Education

NC State professor suspended after students say he said ‘women are useless’ in class

An N.C. State University physics professor was suspended after students reported he said “women are useless” during class Tuesday.

Professor E. David Davis called on a female student who couldn’t answer a question and jokingly asked if she was dropped on her head as a baby by her mother, The News & Observer’s news partner ABC11 reported.

Davis called on another female student who was also unable to answer the question.

His response, a student told ABC11, was “’Well, the women are useless today. So maybe I should ask a man.’”

Another student in the class stood up and called out Davis for his inappropriate behavior, and Davis said it was a joke, ABC11 reported.

“It’s a joke,” Davis said in a video taken in the classroom. “Obviously women are not useless. If they were useless, we wouldn’t exist as a species. So, I mean, it’s a joke. Try to find the humorous side.”

Students in the class posted about the incident on Twitter and other social media, which caught the attention of the university, N.C. State spokesman Mick Kulikowski said. He said the university advised students to file a complaint with NC State’s Bias Impact Response Team.

“The faculty member has been immediately suspended from teaching while this incident is being further investigated,” the university said in a statement Wednesday. “At NC State we take pride in our campus culture which values and strives to live our commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity.”

Hannah McQueen, a Ph.D. student at NCSU, said, “Stuff like this can’t possibly affect women’s participation rates in STEM majors, right?” in a tweet about the incident.

Davis could not be reached for comment Thursday morning.

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Kate Murphy covers higher education for The News & Observer. Previously, she covered higher education for the Cincinnati Enquirer on the investigative and enterprise team and USA Today Network. Her work has won state awards in Ohio and Kentucky and she was recently named a 2019 Education Writers Association finalist for digital storytelling.
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