Sir Tim Hunt sexism row: College that refused to reinstate scientist for 'sexist' comments holds dinners at 'men-only' Garrick club

The 72-year-old Nobel Prize winner was forced to resign in June

Victoria Richards
Wednesday 15 July 2015 15:55
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Sir Tim Hunt made the remarks about women in science at a science journalist conference in South Korea.
Sir Tim Hunt made the remarks about women in science at a science journalist conference in South Korea.

The university that refused to reinstate Sir Tim Hunt in the wake of his 'sexist' comments about female scientists has been revealed to hold dinners at a 'men-only' London members club.

The Garrick club hit the headlines earlier this month when a vote failed to win a two-thirds majority in favour of admitting women members, despite 50.5 per cent backing a change to the rules.

And now University College London has been accused of hypocrisy after it was revealed that for the past two years it has used a function room at the venue to entertain guests at prestigious science events.

It follows a backlash over Nobel Prize winning scientist Sir Tim Hunt's comments in June, in which he told a conference in South Korea that the "trouble with girls" was that, "you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry".

Sir Hunt, who won the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, was forced to resign from the university in his role as honorary professor. He said he had been "hung out to dry" after UCL refused to reinstate him, maintaining that equality was one of its "core values".

Female academics have now criticised the club - which until recently reportedly insisted that female guests use separate entrances and staircases - as an "odd" venue for an event which aims to promote accessibility to science, The Times reported.

The Garrick Club in Covent Garden, London

Dame Athene Donald, professor of experimental physics at the University of Cambridge, said that for professional working dinners to be held in a club which formally excludes women from membership seemed "totally inappropriate". "

"This is particularly true if the dinners are associated with an organisation, such as UCL, publicly pledged to gender equality," she said.

Another academic told the newspaper that she had been to some of the working dinners there and described it as "hypocritical".

“Although the Garrick itself has since removed some of the ridiculous rules, you are still on territory that is gender-segregated, and to my mind that feels very odd," she said. "It does not feel comfortable.”

Professor Tony Segal, a club member who organises the events, insisted it had "nothing to do with sexism".

I love women," he told The Times. "The more the better. And I might well have voted to admit women. It just happens that these sorts of events are a massive undertaking."

He said that the dinner, which was designed to introduce potential benefactors to senior academics, was held at the Garrick because is the "most attractive, convenient and cost-effective option".

But he did admit that they were considering changing the venue next year, even though UCL said it had not received any complaints.

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