Okay folks, here’s another one for the WTF folder. Biochemist and Nobel laureate Tim Hunt made some, shall we say, less than enlightened comments at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea. He called for gender-segregated research facilities for scientists because, he said, “the trouble with girls” is that “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.”
Frankly, with an attitude like that, I find it hard to believe the ladies are really swooning over this guy.
The bigger issue here is that it’s these kinds of beliefs that make it more difficult for women to excel in STEM fields. These are very old and tired stereotypes — the caricatures of women as being overly emotional and interested only in snagging a man. Yet they continue to be perpetuated, sometimes by people with significant influence like Hunt.
The problem is, we can’t just write this off as one douchebag saying something dumb. Many professions in STEM fields are still largely boys clubs to varying degrees, and when prominent, respected individuals make blatantly ignorant and sexist statements, it hinders progress and makes it unnecessarily challenging for intelligent, talented women to succeed.
Yes, there are bigger, more heinous affronts to women’s rights going on around the world. But the way women are portrayed by the media and others who have a soapbox to stand on matters. It’s important because perceptions can create reality, and they can determine how women are actually treated. If we as women want to be treated equally, it’s important that we try and make sure we’re portrayed as equals.
According to the New York Times, Hunt has since resigned from his role as honorary professor at University College London.
Here's the audio of Hunt basically saying "sorry, not sorry" for his comments.