Nobel Laureate Resigns After Comments About Female Scientists


Nobel laureate Tim Hunt has resigned from the University College London, where he was an honorary professor, after comments made at the World Conference of Science Journalists Monday about female scientists.

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls,” Mr. 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 criticize them they cry.”

The comments were reportedly met with tumbleweeds at the conference. Once repeated they sparked immediate backlash, especially as they came in a discipline in which women have had to battle entrenched sexism in and out of the laboratory. Natch, the incident spawned a hash tag, #distractingsexy, which is worth a tour:

Hunt tried wanly to walk back his comments to the BBC, saying what had been “intended as a light-hearted, ironic comment” had been “interpreted deadly seriously by my audience.” He went on to reaffirm the meat of his comment, saying that romantic relationships between lab partners could “disrupt the science.”

The University College London distanced itself from Hunt’s comments, as did the Royal Society. “UCL was the first university in England to admit women students on equal terms to men, and the university believes that this outcome is compatible with our commitment to gender equality,” UCL said in response to Hunt’s resignation.

Listen to Hunt’s apology below, via the BBC:

[h/t New York Times]
[Image via Shutterstock]

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