A university professor in London quits after railing against women in the sciences


Sir Tim Hunt

AP Photo/Alastair Grant

Dr. Tim Hunt, head of cell cycle control at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund is pictured after winning the Nobel Prize for Medicine in London Monday, Oct. 8, 2001.

Sir Tim Hunt, a Nobel laureate and honorary professor at University College London has quit after he made some controversial statements citing the "trouble with girls" in the science profession.

BBC News reports the 72-year-old academic went to a conference in South Korea, where he reportedly made this declaration to the audience about women who are scientists: 

"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."

On Wednesday, Hunt responded to the uproar that followed on BBC Radio 4, acknowledging his comments were "a very stupid thing to do in the presence of all those journalists."

He then defended his problem with girls, but reframed the original criticism that they fall in love with coworkers and said he, too, had done the same - finding that "these emotional entanglements made life very difficult."


Naturally, the internet was less than sympathetic to Hunt's mea culpa and thus, the #distractinglysexy hashtag was born:

Social media snark aside, Hunt's remarks evoked some sobering observations from other people in the science and engineering fields. Among them, this comment from the British Science Association's chief executive, Imran Khan:

"Sadly, dealing with sexism and other forms of discrimination are a daily reality for many people, and I imagine it's hard to find Sir Tim's comments funny if you've been held back by systemic bias for years - whether those remarks were intended as a joke or not,"

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