A brief note on Tim Hunt

The big story on gender politics in science this week was Nobel Laureate Tim Hunt’s comments on mixed gender labs. I’m sure you’ve already read this a thousand times, but I’ll repeat his quote here for completeness.

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls,” he was reported as saying. “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.”

Naturally, I don’t have much to say on this very controversial issue, aside from mentioning that (most) scientists are humans, and humans fall in love, and relationships will always be a distraction from science.  But emotion doesn’t make a person a bad scientist; in fact, emotion is what allows scientists to pursue questions for many years with little reward!  We love our science.  And love, as always, brings a mixed bag of strengths and weaknesses, biases and passions, to the table. It makes humans…human.  It’s unavoidable.

(And single gender labs are also bound to lead to relationships, fyi.)

I’d also like to point readers to the somewhat humorous response of many female scientists, the hashtag #distractinglysexy.

I’m not a twitterer, but if I were, this portrait of a field biologist would be my contribution.

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10 thoughts on “A brief note on Tim Hunt

  1. Ha, ha! I’ve spent a lot of time with people in PPE and its just not that sexy, I gotta say! I still love your portrait of a field biologist and understand the desire to reward your request with the middle finger!

  2. I did read the responses and they were hilarious. Those women really have a sense of humor. As for what he said, I too work in a man dominated profession and really had to put up with sexist remarks too. One of the guys called me Sweet Cheeks every chance he got. Others got nasty when my designs won client approval and they got shot down. Boy did I want to pop Mr. Sweet Cheeks. At 6’5″, I would have needed to climb on my stool.

  3. As a former bench biomedical researcher, I was really glad all these women responded with humor. In many ways, it’s much more effective and was good for some laughs. I think it very effectively put Tim Hunt in his place.

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