Science & Tech

A British Nobel Prize winner actually said this about female scientists

A British Nobel Prize winner actually said this about female scientists

He may be one of the sharpest minds in biochemistry, but British Nobel winner Sir Tim Hunt is clearly a bit of a clod when it comes to gender equality.

Speaking at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea, Hunt reportedly admitted that he had a reputation for being a "chauvinist" before making several sexist comments just to prove his point.

The 72-year-old, who won a Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2001, reportedly thanked female journalists "for making lunch" before saying that scientists should work in gender-segregated labs:

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.

He then clarified that he "doesn't want to stand in the way of women". Right.

The Royal Society, of which Hunt has been a fellow for more than two decades, was quick to distance itself from his comments:

The Royal Society believes that in order to achieve everything that it can, science needs to make the best use of the research capabilities of the entire population.

Too many talented individuals do not fulfil their scientific potential because of issues such as gender and the Society is committed to helping to put this right.

As the Daily Beast's Brandy Zadrozny points out: "It’s a bit of a slap in the face coming from such an esteemed scientist, not to mention father of two daughters and husband of Mary Collins, an accomplished female professor at University College London who has managed to run a major department as well as a lab investigating gene therapy approaches for cancer and infectious diseases."

Hunt later apologised for his comments, explaining to BBC Radio 4: "I'm really, really sorry I caused any offence, that's awful. I certainly didn't mean that. I just meant to be honest, actually." Right.

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