Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Defending Tim Hunt

Today: remarks from a female former scientist who worked for him:
I have seen discrimination and sexism in science and in wider society. I have seen female colleagues talked about in negative ways when they left the lab to have children. The issue is a genuine one that demands urgent attention. But it is grossly unfair that Tim should be considered, and treated, as an emblem of this sexism or gender discrimination.
Hunt's remarks, in context:
According to The Times, a report of the event by a European Commission official who was at the lunch was suppressed by the commission.

He wrote: 'This is the transcript of Sir Tim Hunt's speech, or rather a toast, as precise as I can recall it: 'It's strange that such a chauvinist monster like me has been asked to speak to women scientists. Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. 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. Perhaps we should make separate labs for boys and girls?'

According to the official, Sir Tim immediately said after: 'Now seriously, I'm impressed by the economic development of Korea. And women scientists played, without doubt an important role in it. Science needs women and you should do science despite all the obstacles, and despite monsters like me.'
Eight Nobelists decried the "lynch mob" chasing Hunt out of his posts, and complaints about University College London's lack of dedication to free speech. (It comes out rather the worse for wear than Hunt, says the Spectator.)

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