Talking sense or full of hot air?

Definitely the latter, her critics would say. Averil MacDonald, a leading scientist and lobbyist for the shale gas industry, has been accused of reinforcing sexist stereotypes after saying that women are more opposed to fracking than men because they "don't understand" it.

Oh dear, what was her reasoning?

The chair of UK Onshore Oil and Gas and emeritus professor of science engagement at the University of Reading said that women preferred to go with their "gut reaction" and "are always concerned about threats to their family more than men".

Is that so…...

Speaking to The Times, Professor MacDonald said: "Why are men persuaded? That's because an awful lot of facts have been put forward." She added: "[Men] will say, 'fair enough, understand'. But women, for whatever reason, have not been persuaded by the facts. More facts are not going to make any difference. What we have got to do is understand the gut reaction, the feel."

Science's new Tim Hunt?

Like the Nobel Prize winner who was derided earlier this year after remarking that women should be banned from labs because they cry, Professor MacDonald has been rebuked, though it remains to be seen if she will be forced to resign as Sir Tim was.

What have her critics said?

Dame Anne Glover, the former chief scientific advisor to the European Commission, told i: "I am perplexed by the comments, it doesn't ring true to me. Of course women are concerned with their families but in my experience so are fathers." She added the comment wasn't "helpful". Shadow minister, Louise Haigh MP, said: "I can assure Averil MacDonald that I understand fracking fine and am opposed to it nonetheless."

Has she responded to the backlash?

Writing for Comment is Free, MacDonald said that she has spent her career encouraging girls and women to be interested and encouraged about science but stood by her commments that "men and women think differently."

As an educator I understand why people who do not engage with science are turned off by scientific facts. And the plain truth is that in this country we are extremely bad at encouraging women to engage with science.

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