Sexist “Trouble With Girls” Comment Causes Nobel Laureate Tim Hunt To Resign

Sexist “Trouble With Girls” Comment Causes Nobel Laureate Tim Hunt To Resign
Walter, Bernales & Hunt Paloma Baytelman / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

A Nobel Prize recipient who faced criticism for making extremely sexist comments about the female gender, saying that the trouble with girls is that they make men fall in love with them, has resigned from his position as Honorary Professor with the University College London (UCL) Faculty of Life Sciences.


Sir Tim Hunt, an English biochemist, had made the comment in question at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea. He said, “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.”

According to the BBC, he said that although he “did mean” the comments he made, he was “really sorry,” and further added that it was “a very stupid thing to do in the presence of all those journalists.”

He said the remarks were “intended as a light-hearted, ironic comment.” However, they had been “interpreted deadly seriously by my audience.”

He further said that he stood by some of his comments.

“It is terribly important that you can criticize people’s ideas without criticizing them,” he said. “If they burst into tears it means that you tend to hold back from getting at the absolute truth. Science is about nothing except getting at the truth and anything that gets in the way of that, in my experience, diminishes the science.”

UCL released a statement on its website, confirming that Hunt had stepped down from his position with the university “following comments he made about women in science at the World Conference of Science Journalists on 9 June. 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 statement issued by the Royal Society after the World Conference of Science Journalists, the society said, “Too many  talented individuals do not fulfill their scientific potential because of issues such as gender and the Society is committed to helping to put this right. Sir Tim Hunt was speaking as an individual and his reported comments in no way reflect the views of the Royal Society.”

Last year, a study conducted by Wise revealed that only 13 percent people working or employed in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics are women.

For his work on cell reproduction, Hunt was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2001, as reported by Forbes. He received knighthood in 2006.

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