Well, Then…. 


“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.” Sir Tim Hunt, Nobel prize winner

And then he resigned from his university post.

Aside from inciting some very amusing memes, I am not sure how I feel about the whole thing. 



89 thoughts on “Well, Then…. 

  1. I think his name is actually Tim Hunt. To me, it shows that an intelligent person can still be ignorant and obnoxious. He made a very half-hearted apology after the outcry, and then finally resigned. Maybe he was thought he was being funny, but he wasn’t.
    Women scientists are doing a #distracinglysexy thing on Twitter with photos. It’s great.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. It can be difficult to work with folks to whom you are attracted. Same with going to school with them.

    But we all put on our big girl/big boy pants and manage. Usually without crying.

    I’ve been working with both sexes. Women don’t cry any more often than men have temper tantrums. Mostly boys and girls act like grown ups.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. There are at least a dozen Japanese emojis* that reflect the look on my face as I read that, but I can’t remember a single one. Probably because of my incredulity.

    * OK, so I know “emoji” is a Japanese word making every emoki indirectly Japanese, but theirs emphasize the eyes instead of the mouth as source of emotion. Just about the only one I took with me is what one of D’s godmoms calls “Fat Man Hugging”: (>^^)>

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m with Elyse – mixing genders in a lab will produce some interactions and relationships and so will every other human activity. Just grow up and deal with it. My experience is that male/female teams produce quality work – on average better than male only or female only teams. I have also found that working shoulder to shoulder (say at a boardroom table) with the opposite gender also produces an automatic physical attraction that is normal and fades relatively quickly. Again, suck it up buttercup..

    Liked by 4 people

    • At first when I read the quote I thought it was a silly thing to have to resign over. BUT then he admitted to being a “chauvinist” and I thought, “Well, then, screw you.” It is one thing to point out amusing differences and effects of mixing men and women. We should all be able to talk about that. Yet if you use such things as an excuse to deny a qualified woman an opportunity, I hope you burn.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. I spent 20 years working with lots of people just like him: very, very bright, but with little social awareness and minimal social skills. It takes a lot of focus to get a science Ph.D. Even more to get a Nobel. All of that focus costs years in social development. So, while his comment is inept and improper, I don’t find it particularly surprising.

    Liked by 7 people

    • Probably the best response I’ve read. Totally embarrassing and inappropriate, but as you pointed out, higher education is a delicate balancing act. Anyone who appears to have it all is failing somewhere miserably.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I agree Dave. My Mum was in town one day (she lives on the opposite side of the country) and she suggested we have coffee with an uncle of mine that I had never met. I was about 50 at the time and he was about 75 – but very sharp with all his faculties. He was a nuclear physicist and a professor and spent a lot of time at the CERN particle accelerator in Switzerland. He was also the original developer of the computerized blood splatter technique for crime scenes. A brilliant person by any standards. Anyway, i was eager to meet this man and was looking forward to hearing some wisdom..The conversation started well enough and then we got into a discussion of feeding the poor and disenfranchised children in third world countries.- my Mum was a social work prof. My uncle started to spout the most hideous garbage saying that we should not help the poor elsewhere and should use the money within our own borders. I couldn’t believe my ears – this man literally said about children -“Let them starve. That;is their problem, not ours.” Assuming I had misunderstood him, I tried a number of ways to approach the topic – and this uncle kept insisting that starving children were not worth considering, let alone helping. My Mum and I made our excuses and fled. He was clear on our stand before we left. 😦

      Liked by 2 people

      • Lots of super brilliant people have cockamamie ideas about other things, weaknesses in areas of social interaction. These thing seem mutually exclusive. Understanding that we cannot make someone into something they cannot be, do we negate everything good they have done because of their stupidity elsewhere? I hope not. But that also does not mean we should let them operate by another set of rules. Someone else saying this in another arena would not have had the backlash this has generated.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ummm good point Victo. If those words had been said by a worker on a warehouse dock they would have been shrugged off as the utterings of someone frustrated and unthinking. I guess my issue with the fact that he in particular said that, is that the opinions of academics and highly regarded citizens is used to form public policy that, in turn, reflects on all of us. I found his opinions abhorrent although I would defend his right to have those opinions. I also have a tendency to take the opinions of those whose job it is to think .and act for the betterment of humanity, more seriously. Perhaps that is a flaw of mine – in fact it is a flaw of mine.

        Thanks for the comeback..In a way it is similar to the treatment of a friend – separate the wheat from the chaff, discard the chaff and cherish the wheat…

        Liked by 1 person

      • A person being really smart lures us into the (mistaken) idea that they will be really smart about everything. But, many of those people are also extremely focused. They look at and think through what they are interested in and ignore other things. Your uncle didn’t work on blood spatter analysis because it was a social problem that needed a solution. He worked on it because it is an interesting problem (it is a really interesting problem). “Starving children? Why should I be interested in that? Too many children in the world as it is. End of problem.”

        You can be smart in areas of your focus, and stupid in other areas. You might be outspoken. You might say things without thinking. You might be intolerant of different ideas and say awful things to people who differ. (Do you know how he would respond to people who make mistakes in nuclear physics? My guess would be the he isn’t gentle there, either.)

        It might sound like I’m defending him, but I’m not. Being smart and hyper-focused might be part of an explanation of his behavior, but it is no excuse.

        A larger than usual portion of people like this exhibit some or all of the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome. They can only be what they can be–like the rest of us. And for many of them, a sensitive social being is not something they can be. More explanation, but still not an excuse.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Things that make me say, “Ew”…

    Somehow I think I could refrain from falling in love with the man. I managed to get through med school without falling in love with my numerous male preceptors. And never did I cry in front of them. Not even when surgeons got grumpy. I can’t believe I’m the only woman in science who hasn’t done so, which makes me think Dr. Hunt should be careful with generalizing. The words ‘some’ and ‘occasionally’ would have come in handy in his statement.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Not to stand up for the old fart, but he DID say “my trouble”, indicating that HE had a problem because of his own social awkwardness. It looked to me like he was trying to make a joke and failing miserably.

      At least that’s what I got out of his drivel. But then, I’m only three-and-a-half years old and a bear, so what do I know about people?

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Generalizations = when we make generalizations aren’t we really saying what we feel. We have no way of actually knowing what another human being is thinking.

    Funny Part = Mr. Brainiac Scientist is actually telling everyone in the world that he falls in love with every woman coming into the lab, that every woman coming into the lab is falling in love with him, and that he cries when he is criticized.

    Cool Part = it doesn’t matter how smart we are, we still say stupid shit. Oh yeah, and guys will always think with their dicks.

    Good for a laugh!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

      • That’s so true. It is sad. Being human is no reason to resign. Maybe the embarrassment of it all was just too much for him. He would have to show his face in front of women in the lab every day. Not sure what I would have done in his case.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I suspect the resignation was not voluntary. Now, as I said above, if he has used this as an excuse/reason for not giving women positions in his lab, he should go down, I think. But for talking about our differences? Nah.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Judge Richard Kopf, a well-respected senior judge who just happens to also be a WordPress blogger, commented on this earlier this week. Judge Kopf gets himself into a lot of hot water with his comments sometimes, and that was exactly his point in posting this blog. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about Professor Hunt myself, but I do respect the good judge in spite of his occasional forays into questionable commentary. http://herculesandtheumpire.com/2015/06/11/a-supportive-note-to-nobel-laureate-tim-hunt-who-resigned-after-comments-on-female-scientists/

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll leave my two cents worth of opinions.
    As a manager my #1 rule for all women is: NEVER cry at work unless someone dies or there is blood (your blood.) Cry all you want everywhere else. Someone told me that when I was very young. It is some of the best advice I’ve ever received.
    From my professional experience as a female manager, in a scientific/engineering environment, when you criticize men they pout like little boys and feel all hurt for days. Then they tell all of their friends what a bitch you are. Then they avoid you until you go out of your way to be extra nice. Most women don’t cry — they just go out of their way to say mean things about you and tell everyone your hair is ugly or that you’re fat and tacky, or that you’re a slut. Yes, people do fall in love with coworkers. It isn’t always the smartest thing to do but it happens so you just have to deal with it like adults – take it home but keep it out of the workplace. And before you say ANYTHING about anyone else, especially if it might be sexist or racist, take a deep breath, count to one hundred, take a walk, get a drink of water, watch the birds outside, then ask yourself, “do I really want to say that?” Nine times out of ten the answer will be no.

    Fun discussion. I enjoyed reading all of the other responses.

    I thought what he said was sort of funny… you know, in a weird silly character study kind of way.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Thoughts. I don’t think this is sexism or discrimination. There just happen to be some men who really like women a lot and if they are put in close proximity for any length of time they just do fall in love with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think he’s right. After teaching at least 5000 post-adolescent female students and witnessing their behavior (with the eye of a wannabe anthropologist) and accepting their apologies and enduring their manipulation (of me and their male classmates) I think 1) they want you to love them, 2) they are happy to break hearts and 3) chances are good they’ll cry at some point. Boys? I taught at least 5,000 of them, too. 1) they want you to love them (and they might love you), 2) they are intensely competitive (and can be manipulative in order to win), and chances are they’ll fly off the handle. I think it’s hormones.

    Liked by 1 person

      • At the heart of us, I believe, are the imperatives of any species and they are VERY powerful when we’re young adults. I remember the first time a girl student cried about her grade. I was mortified. I thought I’d hurt her. A few days later, I told a young male colleague the story and he handed me a box of tissues and said, “Why do you think this is on my desk?”

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I don’t watch/read the news much, due to its toxicity, so I thought this must be a quote made decades ago. When I looked up this, Sir Hunt, I read that his wife is professor of immunology at University College London, and they have two daughters. I wonder if I should feel sorry for this family and can only imagine the tension at home. Yes, we all say stupid things, but not in such a public forum. Hopefully this experience will broaden the scope of his understanding to things beyond his field of expertise.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I think the poor man just made a faux pas… and people will remember him for this and not the good work he did….
    Doc, you need an intervention;” hurried post from the zoo cafeteria on my smart phone” … put the phone down and walk away….


  14. I had lots of mixed reactions to this. At first I thought he had probably just been misquoted or had his words taken out of context. I couldn’t believe anyone had said something so crass. Then I heard he had apologized and resigned, which I felt was probably an over-reaction. After all, he was clearly a brilliant scientist. But the news coverage plus the twitter #distractinglysexy campaign has probably done a lot for gender equality, so maybe good things can come out of bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that it has started dialog, yes! Not sure he needed to resign over it. An apology, sure. Losing his job? Not so sure. Fortunately, I don’t know the man. I am not sure I would like him much in real life. 😉


  15. Well first fuck him. (Whether his remark was a joke or not.)

    Second whether woman or girl, regardless of gender when you are good at your job you should be appreciated at for that.

    Third, how difficult is it to create a “shared code of conduct of sorts” and to act tactful when something unexpected happens? To make mistakes is human.

    He asked for it. Reduce women at high level operations to “creatures of romance” and you deduce yourself to the supreme being of rationality. Really? Bring on Marie Curie and explain yourself.

    Tim Hunt insulted all his female peers, colleagues and teachers through the years. Fuck him…

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂 I have been waiting for a vehement “fuck him” sort to say something here. Thank you! He did reduce women to creatures of romance and irrational emotionality and that was a very, very stupid, ignorant thing for him to do.


  16. I definitely have found that IQ doesn’t always correlate with EQ. You can be brilliant…and clueless. Emotional sensitivity doesn’t negate the functionality of one’s semantic faculties. Besides, we’re humans, not androids.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: My Article Read (6-13-2015) | My Daily Musing

  18. He was beyond foolish, more naive perhaps, to have said something like that in public to a large group of people. It’s not ideal, it is sexist, but he absolutely shouldn’t lose his job over it. He’ll already have been chastised enough by the furor caused, and might think again before coming out with such twaddle and not expecting repercussions. My dad would say exactly the same as Mr Hunt, but he says it watching the telly of an evening – everyone is entitled to their opinions, but you have to be aware of the potential come backs too. The guy is 72, I feel sorry that he felt he had to resign from his job. I’m with Professor Brian Cox on the matter – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33152345

    – sonmi upon the Cloud

    Liked by 1 person

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