Women scientists 'distract men, fall in love with them and cry when criticised,' says Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt

Tim Hunt made the sensational claims at a conference in South Korea where he also called himself a 'chauvinistic pig'

Aftab Ali
Wednesday 10 June 2015 10:39 BST

Women scientists should work in same-sex labs because they distract men from their work, fall in love with male colleagues and cry when they are criticised.

At least that is the view of British Nobel Prize winner, Tim Hunt, who admitted yesterday that he is a “chauvinistic pig” at a conference in South Korea which was hosted by female scientists.

Sir Tim – who won the 2001 Prize for discovering protein molecules that control the division of cells – was giving a toast at a lunch where he raised a glass to tell his stunned hosts: “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.”

The 72-year-old laureate’s remarks were reported by Connie St Louis, a science journalism lecturer at London’s City University, who was at the conference. She said: “Suddenly, he jumped up and said he was a chauvinist pig.

“They were horrified, really horrified. Some people laughed nervously. Some just sat there and put their heads in their hands. It was so awful and worse – he was British.”

Sir Tim’s comments have struck a negative chord because careers in science are still hugely dominated by men – with only 13% of workers being women – despite campaigns over the years by successive governments to get more women into the field.

The Royal Society – of which Sir Tim is a fellow – distanced itself from his remarks last night and seemed to be in no mood to jump to his defence anytime soon.

Uta Frith, a neuroscientist, called it a “Watson moment” – referring to controversial racial statements made previously by James Watson.

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