Mad scientist and trouble with girls


I think there is no doubt over whom I mean, and undeniably his guffaw has been doing the circuits through our academic emails.

Yes, its Tim Hunt, and not surprisingly like a disgraced politician has opted to resign (although I’m in no doubt that he was requested to resign by his University). Unfortunately, a remark such as his, even if orated in humour is not one to propagate in this day and age. We are driven towards discovery and both the left and the right side of the brain can contribute to this endeavour. Or else we would be like our middle eastern counterparts that still segregate female from male colleagues…

Tim Hunt made a significant contribution to science. He discovered the first Cyclin protein that assists cyclin dependent kinase proteins in controlling the entry of cells through the phases of the cell cycle. Sadly, this is overshadowed by his latest discovery!

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Neuro Doc Gnanapavan


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  • Evidence (as if it was needed) that no matter how eminent, it doesn't preclude you being a complete idiot.

  • Did you know that in UK there is a charter to support women in Science

    ECU’s Athena SWAN Charter was established in 2005 to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and research.

    In May 2015 the charter was expanded to recognise work undertaken in arts, humanities, social sciences, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. The charter now recognises work undertaken to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.

    ECU’s Athena SWAN Charter covers women (and men where appropriate) in:

    academic roles in STEMM and AHSSBL
    professional and support staff
    trans staff and students
    In relation to their:

    progression of students into academia
    journey through career milestones
    working environment for all staff

    Back in the days when the MD's were nippers science was about 80% male and on job adverts we had to write "women are encouraged to apply" now I would say that the reverse is opposite in that applications for science jobs are about 80% female. However in the higher escutcheons there is still a male dominance, hence the Athena SWANN charter. Maybe with time it will become female dominant and will those job adverts change

  • Already "resigned" his emeritus position at UCL. We'll have to see if the Royal Society takes any action. There's no room for sexism is science, no matter how esteemed you are.
    The glaring point is that over the decades, tim Hunt will have sat on may committees that decide on job awards/grants/promotion for women scientists. Those that were turned down might now have reasonable grounds for complaint, which is why I suspect he's gone from UCL so quickly.
    I suspect we haven't heard the last of this.

    • I feel this sort of comment will give female scientists the impetus to prove he is wrong to generalise. Just as my boss did when he told my future manager that I was "very good at her job, but she will never amount to anything, because she's got MS and she'll always be ill". I didn't need any more motivation to prove him wrong.

    • In Sweden a some years back a Swedish female scientist proved that the grant committee was biased against women and they were replaced. But it took a lot of courage and fight to prove it. Agnes Wold is her name.

    • It's quite a bit like the second-to-last episode of Mad Men, in which Joan took the severance payoff for a lesser amount because the battle to prove sexual harassment would have been longer and less profitable. Goddess bless the women who choose to fight, but I know in my career I've tended to take the Joan way out rather than stay in the heat.

    • It was quite convenient that Nobel prizes were not awarded to posthumously after Rosalind Franklin (DNA) died.

  • Future job ad: "Candidates must be able to demonstrate their eligibility to work in the UK in accordance with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. After the EU referendum 2017, candidates may have to leave the country. Candidates must be willing to work in a mixed gender lab where falling in love and crying is permitted. Informal enquiries can be made to xxx"

  • Ultimately it comes down to the old " book smarts v street smarts", sort of. He said it out loud, but there are others who have the same feelings but realise that they don't say it publically. Opinions have to change, not just the vocalising of them.

    Given that his wife is also a successful scientist, I'm sure there was an interesting conversation to be had when he got home…

  • Interesting that this topic is coming up on your blog. I wanted to comment the other day about the teaching trip but the post was not open for comments. You didn't identify the country but what I found most interesting with the western scientists is that you were all male. At least the country you visited had three women present and available for the photo.

    • However, you will note they were covered the western scientist with tributes I think and the ladies with clothe

    • I don't fully understand your response. Yes, the women (not ladies, puhleez!) were covered with clothing, as were many of the men, albeit white clothing and you could see their faces. But what are you referring to with the western scientists and tributes? I wasn't there so I don't know what you mean.

    • This is shocking Dr McMullin should be saying the exact opposite because it's opinions like hers which make it acceptable, trainees are young and yes, vulnerable and should be supported through their careers, not the other way around.

    • Very funny …well done. Though one has to ask what's life without falling in love (no matter where) or tears. I try to do the former now and again and more frequently do the latter 😉

    • MD2, you need to take Graham Parker's advice "Don't bother with the laboratory girls…..don't bother with them they don't bother me." Maybe play it in your lab.

  • Maybe Dr. Hunt has the data to back up his claim. I think we need a funded study to get to the bottom of this.

  • This is a comment from his wife in the science section of the observer: “You can see why it could be taken as offensive if you didn’t know Tim. But really it was just part of his upbringing. He went to a single-sex school in the 1960s. Nevertheless he is not sexist. I am a feminist, and I would not have put up with him if he were sexist.”

  • let's face it- team g is sexist- the heads are male, females are the underlings. i'd like to see NDG take over from prof g, but let's face it it will never happen.

    • ?? Let's face it….you are a ……I think NDG does ProfG clinics already:-) and I am sure that ProfG would welcome shedding administrative tasks.

      Does NDG want to do 7 blog posts a week?

    • so NDG does the work and prof g takes the credit???

      i'm sure she could easily take over from Prof G, she has like 20 publications!



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