Professor David Price, Vice-Provost for Research at UCL, has written an open letter to Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, to raise concerns about an article commenting on the race and gender of UCL academics appearing on Newsnight. The contents of this letter are reproduced in full below.
"Dear Mr Dacre,
I am writing to express my deep disappointment in the insinuation in your newspaper that Dr Hiranya Peiris was selected to discuss the ‘Big Bang’ breakthrough on Newsnight for anything other than her expertise.
In Ephraim Hardcastle’s column on 19th March, he asserts that Dr Peiris and Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock were selected based on gender and birthplace because ‘Newsnight’s Guardian-trained editor, Ian Katz, is keen on diversity.’
The implication that anything outside of her academic record qualifies Dr Peiris to discuss the results of the BICEP2 study is profoundly insulting. She is a world-leading expert on the study of the Cosmic Microwave Background, with degrees from Cambridge and Princeton, so is one of the best-placed people in the world to discuss the finding. Dr Aderin-Pocock is a highly-qualified scientist and engineer with an exceptional talent for communicating complex scientific concepts in an accessible way.
Mr Hardcastle also wrongly states that the discovery itself was made by ‘white, male American’ scientists, when in fact the study was conducted by a diverse group of researchers from around the world. For the record, I have added an attachment setting out the extensive academic credentials of Dr Peiris and Dr Aderin-Pocock.
It is deeply disappointing that you thought it acceptable to print an article drawing attention to the gender and race of scientific experts, suggesting that non-white, non-male scientists are somehow incapable of speaking on the basis of their qualifications and expertise.
I look forward to your reply and would ask that the Mail rectifies the insinuations made about Dr Peiris and Dr Aderin-Pocock at the earliest opportunity.
Professor David Price, Vice-Provost for Research at UCL” (read more).
(Source: University College London)