Editor's comment | Those 'troublesome' female scientists...
12 Jun 2015
Female scientists have been hitting back at Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt this week after he made sexist remarks while speaking at a conference in South Korea.
British biochemist Tim Hunt was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2001 for the discovery of protein molecules that control the division of cells.
Earlier this week, however, Hunt used his platform at a conference in Seoul to discuss the “trouble with girls”…*SIGHS HEAVILY*
“Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry
Tim Hunt, Nobel Prize winner
Hunt said: “Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry.”
Hunt, who has since resigned from his role at University College London, said the comments were meant to be light-hearted but told the BBC he “did mean” the remarks, although admitted he was “really sorry”.
As you’d expect, his initial comments, and I daresay his subsequent remarks, have prompted a serious backlash from the science community.
Zoe Schnepp, Birmingham Fellow, University of Birmingham, said: “Aside from the issues of sexism, Sir Tim’s statement is also short-sighted because it assumes people cannot be professional.
“I met my husband when we were both doing PhDs. We travelled together to Germany and then to Japan where we were both working in the same building - even adjacent offices - during our Postdoctoral Fellowships.
“Far from being distracting to each other, we have six joint papers, a joint research grant and have done numerous joint experiments at beamline facilities, such as Diamond Light Source.”
What’s more, social media erupted in the wake of Hunt’s comments, sparking the hashtag: #distractinglysexy, in which female scientists are sharing “highly distracting” images of themselves at work.
As you’d expect, many of the tweets highlight the short-sightedness of Hunt’s comments, while simultaneously mocking his views.
Click here for a link to the #distractinglysexy thread on Twitter, or here for the ’16 on-point responses from female scientists’.
If anything good is to come from Hunt’s comments, I hope that they act as a catalyst and spur more people, especially women, to take up STEM careers and help debunk any outdated and short-sighted views on men and women working together…