Alas, the article, if you read it, is somewhat funny. To begin with you might get the impression she was selected for heroically fighting a toothache. And then there is this remark:
“Physics is a male-dominated field, and the assumption is that a woman has to overcome hurdles and face down biases that men don’t. But that just isn’t so. Women in physics are familiar with this misconception and acknowledge it mostly with jokes.”This pissed me off enough to write a letter to the editor. I only learned coincidentally the other day that it appeared in the Jan 21 issue of the US edition. (Needless to say, we get the European edition.) Below is the full comment I wrote and the shortened version that appeared. There are many other things one could have mentioned, but I wanted to keep it brief.
“As a particle physicist, it was exhilarating for me to see Fabiola Gianotti on your list of runners-up, but I was very dismayed by Kluger's statement it is a "misconception" that women in physics face hurdles men don't.
Yes, instances in which I have been mistaken by my male colleagues for the secretary or catering personnel can be "acknowledge[d] mostly with jokes", though these incidences arguably reveal biases and not everybody finds them amusing. But the assertion that women in physics do not "have to overcome hurdles... that men don't" speaks past the reality of academia and is no laughing matter.
In this field the competition for tenure usually plays out in the mid to late thirties, and is not only accompanied by hard work but also frequently by international moves. Men can postpone their family planing until after they have secured positions. Women can't. I am very lucky to live in a country with generous parental leave and family benefits. But I do have female colleagues in other countries who faced severe problems because of unrealistic expectations on their work-performance and lack of governmental support while raising small children.
Both genders face the tension between having a family and securing tenure, but the timing is markedly more difficult for women. You have done a great disservice to female physicists by denying this "hurdle" exists.”