How a discipline can and should respond to the minimising of sexual harassment charges.
We are writing to give feedback on a story which appeared in the October 11 edition of the NYTimes, titled “Geoffrey Marcy, Astronomer at Berkeley, Apologizes for Behavior” by Dennis Overbye. Appended at the end of this letter is a Letter to the Editor to be considered for publication.
The authors of this letter are all professional astronomers and physicists, from across the world. Women are dramatically underrepresented in our field and other sciences, in part because of the sexism and misogyny that this article reinforced.
This article epitomizes the culture that champions the voices of predators and minimizes the experiences of survivors. Mr. Overbye’s piece repeatedly sympathizes with Marcy, portraying him as a misunderstood, empathetic educator. This viewpoint is captured in the title of the article, and it is reinforced by quotes from Marcy and his wife that Marcy was “condemned without knowing all of the facts” and “the punishment Geoff is receiving here in the court of hysterical public opinion is far out of proportion to what he did”. Not only are these statements false (see the next paragraph), but they employ the damaging tactic of painting female targets and their supporters as overly sensitive trouble-makers….