After asserting that female scientists should be segregated from their male peers because they distract them, fall in love with them and cry, British biochemist Tim Hunt issued a half-hearted apology Wednesday -- and women in science are letting him have it.
Hunt, 72, a Nobel Prize winner and fellow with the United Kingdom's prestigious Royal Society science body, came under fire this week for advocating for single-sex labs in a speech at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea,
"Three things happen when [women] are in the lab: You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticize them, they cry," said Hunt.
"I did mean the part about having trouble with girls," he said. "I have fallen in love with people in the lab and people in the lab have fallen in love with me and it's very disruptive to the science."
Inequality for women in science is a chronic problem. In 2012, researchers at Yale found that physicists, chemists and biologists are likely to favor a young male scientist over a woman with nearly identical qualifications and are more willing to offer the man a job, the New York Times noted. Researchers in the study observed that when women got hired, their salaries averaged nearly $4,000 less than what men are paid.
"Girls" in the science community meanwhile responded brilliantly to Hunt's lunacy on Twitter.
— Louise Marshall (@LouiseNeuro) June 10, 2015
— Prof Sophie Scott (@sophiescott) June 10, 2015
— laura baxter (@scientist_me) June 10, 2015
Dear department: please note l will be unable to chair the 10am meeting this morning because I am too busy swooning and crying. #TimHunt
— Kate Devlin (@drkatedevlin) June 10, 2015
Had *such* trouble doing good science today. What with the crying, and battling my way through hordes of suitors. So distracting. #timhunt
— Katherine Twomey (@ke2mey) June 10, 2015
— Bad at Being Human (@HereBeNabila) June 10, 2015
I am about to finish drafting a major physics review paper BUT I CANNOT SEE THROUGH MY TEARS #TimHunt
— Anna Watts (@drannawatts) June 10, 2015
— Leslie Vosshall (@pollyp1) June 10, 2015
UPDATE - June 11, 2015: Nobel Prize-winning scientist Tim Hunt has apologized for his remarks at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea, but stands by his assertion that mixed-gender labs are disruptive. On Wednesday, he resigned from his honorary post at University College London, The Associated Press reported.