Some of Italy's top female academics are demanding an apology from the president of the University of Rome for participating in the jury of a "Miss University" pageant to select the "most beautiful and wise" university student.

Eugenio Gaudio headed the pageant jury, in which participants submitted information about their majors and grades — along with their height, bust and waist size.

A dozen female professors lead by economist Mariana Mazzucato of the University of Sussex wrote an open letter to Gaudio over the weekend saying his participation represented a "scandalous stain" on the university and "demonstrates how backward our society is."

Gaudio refused to apologize, noting that his two predecessors also participated in the pageant and that, regardless, the contestants "were not in bathing suits but in evening dresses."