The US National Academy of Sciences is expelling biologist Francisco J. Ayala for being considered sexually harassing his colleagues | Science
The prestigious National Academy of Sciences of the United States, made up of about 2,400 high-ranking scientists from around the world (including 190 Nobel laureates), expelled Madridista scientist Francisco G. Ayala after taking into account accusations of sexual harassment. Against this being proven true in 2018. Ayala, a neo-Darwinian biologist who is considered a world authority in his field, is losing his place among this intellectual elite, according to a personal in your profile academy. In 2018, honors at his university in Irvine (California) were actually withdrawn when three complaints of harassment and gender discrimination were confirmed. Ayala, 87, decided to quit her job as a teacher.
The academy changed its statutes two years ago to be able to expel members who had violated its code of conduct, which included “proven cases of sexual harassment.” as posted nature. After the change, the foundation reviews the positions of many of its members. First, astronomer Jeff Marcy He was fired a month ago, after considering that he had to leave UC Berkeley for several sexual harassment cases.
Now the case of Ayala was taken into account; Scientists who were harassed by a biologist were the first to announce the decision on Wednesday on social networks, and then confirmed it Science. In addition, the Academy is currently reviewing the status of two other scientists, one of whom is another Spaniard: Barcelona architect Sergio Verdo, according to Sciencewho entered the academy in 2014 and He was expelled from Princeton University for sexual harassment. Verdu appealed this university decision, so the academy is waiting for the case to be resolved. The Foundation did not respond to this newspaper about the details of the two cases.
Ayala’s case exploded in 2018, when the University of California, Irvine, to which he has devoted more than 30 years and donated $10 million, withdrew all honors for sexual harassment.
Connection Ayala case It exploded on June 28, 2018, when the University of California, Irvine (UCI), to which it has dedicated more than 30 years and donated $10 million, announced the withdrawal of all honors for that institution’s most important professor. A note claimed that Francisco J. Ayala, a US citizen, received four complaints of sexual harassment from the same number of center employees. After half a year of investigation and more than 60 interviews by two specialists, it was decided to accept three of these complaints as good. According to this report, Ayala violated university regulations dedicated to protecting its employees from gender-biased behavior in these three cases.
Weeks after the investigation was known, and after the magazine Science The report was published in full, and Ayala explained to this newspaper that it was all a “plot” to discredit him, orchestrated by top UCI officials. This supposed plot involved the university’s president, dean, and department head. When asked why the center designed a conspiracy against its main patron, the scientist could not provide evidence or reasons to justify it. This newspaper has not been able to contact Ayala for the past two days.
“What they want is to do me harm for their own good, and remove me from my position,” Ayala said in 2018, noting that “everything is not an invention, but a lot of it is.” In the report submitted by the UCI at the time, it was expressly detailed for each of the complainants That their testimony is “credible”: “There are no grounds to suggest that she may have been motivated by exaggeration or fraud of her accusations.” In addition, he questioned the credibility of Ayala’s testimony: in eight different cases, witnesses denied his words.
The UCI report is a detailed mosaic of what has happened over the past few years in the lives of these women, through the accounts of more than 60 witnesses. In this group are included many witnesses who have nothing against him and confirm that he is just a chivalrous and old-fashioned man. The main woman in the complaints is the current chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Kathleen Treseider, who arrived at the UCI in 2003 and says that since then, she has had to put up with Ayala’s sexist behavior towards her. Tresaider notes that she can’t get rid of him whenever they meet, to the point where she has to call for help. On one occasion, when she complained that a man grabbed her ass while riding a bicycle, as an example of sexual harassment of women, he asserted that he could not blame the man and that he also wanted to “grab his ass”. Thanks Tresaider on Twitter Ayala was expelled from the academy despite his criticism of being late.
Ayala explained to this newspaper that the whole thing was a “plot” to discredit him, although he could not provide evidence or reasons to justify it.
Ayala denied to this newspaper all the accusations of Treseder, whom he considers the instigator of the plot. “They are completely wrong. Among other things because I don’t use that language to touch my ass,” he said in 2018. Investigators accept the accusations as good because there are many witness testimonies where Ayala uses that language, such as when he joked that he says to an interrogator If he had enjoyed spending his grant money on “whores and coke”.
Based on Tresaider’s accusations, investigators have obtained Associate Professor Jessica Pratt’s testimony as a witness, who in February 2015 will suffer one of the report’s most critical episodes. She was going to give her first presentation in the department and to connect her computer she sat in the seat Ayala had requested for himself. Upon his arrival, the Spanish biologist commented that if he wanted, he could sit on his lap. These words, heard by many witnesses, constitute the only serious charge Ayala admitted, which he regrets as a “grave error of judgment.” However, the report states that the first thing Ayala did was scold Pratt when she learned she had complained about the comment, accusing her of being “too sensitive”. Another witness confirmed that she had suggested that she sit on top of him.
On the occasion of the episode, Ayala was formally warned by the UCI Vice President and by the then head of the department that he must change his attitude towards women. The report highlights many of the comments that women on campus found annoying, inappropriate or discriminatory. Several witnesses say Ayala’s inappropriate behavior towards women was a common comment among campus members.
Since the accusations were known, the Spanish biologist has received many samples of support from the scientific community, such as two letters signed by 14 and 20 international researchers, respectively, who worked with Ayala and defended her integrity. The report finds her account that her compliments have been “misinterpreted” as unconvincing, and highlights Ayala’s horrific stance, as evidence that she abused her power, and that she consciously ignored the warnings she received in 2015. By providing warnings to the report’s conclusion, Ayala resigned: They told me either I would resign or they would fire me,” he explained.
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