It has been confirmed that the honorary professor with the UCL Faculty of Life Sciences has resigned, “following comments he made about women in science at the World Conference of Science Journalists on 9 June.”
The university also assured that “UCL was the first university in England to admit women students on equal terms to men, and the university believes that this outcome is compatible with our commitment to gender equality.”
In a speech he delivered at a recent conference in South Korea, the British biochemist reportedly stated that women scientists “cry” when you criticize their lab work, and that they’re always in danger of “[falling] in love” with their male coworkers.
"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 criticize them they cry."
The fact that he called women “girls” (a word choice that is often criticized as being infantilizing and demeaning when directed toward grown, professional women) is the least of Hunt’s offenses. He also seems to believe that men will lose focus in the mere presence of a woman—which is an unfair characterization of men, too.
When a woman is distracted by a man, it’s her fault.
When a man is distracted by a woman, it’s her fault.
You’d expect a tad more logic from the man who made such groundbreaking progress in the field of medicine.
You’d also expect that, in the face of such flagrant chauvinism, the Internet would be up in arms.
And sure enough, twitter delivered.
Hunt has since come out with an "apology" by which he put his foot back firmly in his mouth:
“[I’m] really sorry that I said what I said…[it was] a very stupid thing to do in the presence of all those journalists.”
“[It was] intended as a light-hearted, ironic comment [but was] interpreted deadly seriously by my audience.”
“I did mean the part about having trouble with girls….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.”
Thanks? That’s like saying I’m sorry your face was in the way of my fist.
photo credit: flickr @ palomabaytelman