Members Perspectives

German Chemical Society supports Diversity and Equality

On 4 June 2020, Angewandte Chemie (Angew. Chem.), the renowned journal owned by the German Chemical Society (GDCh), published an essay by Tomas Hudlicky. The article expressed offending views about women and other groups underrepresented in science. In addition, the Chinese research community was unjustly defamed. The article has led to significant criticism on social media, especially on Twitter. As an immediate consequence, the article was retracted pending the results of an internal investigation.

“Not only the Advisory Board of Angewandte Chemie, but also the Board of Directors of the GDCh, distances itself from the statements made in the Hudlicky article and we sincerely apologize to those who feel hurt by the article,” said Peter R. Schreiner, GDCh’s President. “We are fully committed to the principles of diversity and we are convinced that diversity not only enriches our society but also stimulates our research and thus leads to better results.” On 25 June, a Guest Editorial “From Scientists to Scientists – Moving Angewandte into the Future” was published with a detailed description of the incident and its consequences:

“We are committed to freedom of speech and Angewandte Chemie should continue to be a journal in which different opinions have their place and are discussed respectfully”, emphasized Wolfram Koch, CEO of GDCh. “However, it must not and will not happen again that statements that are diametrically opposed to our values are published.” Since the investigation confirmed the concerns that the publication infringes the publisher’s professional ethical code, the essay was formally withdrawn before a Version of Record had been generated. As a consequence, the copyright on the article fell back to the author.

As a further consequence, GDCh wants to use this incident to implement activities towards diversity and equal opportunities more resolutely than before in full agreement with GDCh’s mission statement of diversity ( “There is no doubt that the idea of equal opportunities is overwhelmingly approved in the community of the approximately 31000 members of the GDCh”, said Stefanie Dehnen, Vice President of GDCh. “We are confident that this incident, however painful it is at the moment, will enhance communication, foster diversity, reduce biases and thus will lead to a better understanding within the chemical community.”

Karin J. Schmitz
GDCh, Head of Public Relations Department