Monday, 15 June 2015

What Tim Hunt said

was silly. What has been said since is far, far worse.
Hunt is, I understand, the product of the English "public school" system. He went to a private, fee paying, single-sex, boarding school. Some people,  usually those who have not been to such schools, say that is part of the problem. Perhaps it is.
It might also be that Hunt does find the opposite sex distracting. He wouldn't be the first male to have that problem. He won't be the last.
I also imagine that there are some females who find the opposite sex distracting. Some people find the same sex distracting. Some people simply find other people distracting.
I find people distracting at times. Sometimes I simply work better alone. I can just get on with it. This has a lot to do with what I am doing.
I don't see what Hunt said as being a hanging offence. I suspect he just said what a lot of other people actually think. Was that perhaps the reason for the outcry? Or was it the "political correctness" police seeing the chance to arrest and imprison a high profile human to further their cause?
It appears not to matter at all that here is a scientist who, whether distracted or not, has managed to produce work considered worthy of a Nobel Prize. I think that's what really bothers me. What we seem to be being told is something like this, "It doesn't matter what this man has done for the world. All that counts is the way he sees women."
Hunt hasn't murdered or raped anyone. He hasn't been convicted of any sort of vile sexual practices. In all likelihood he is the sort of man who opens doors for women. (I know, there are women who find that offensive too. I don't.) 
I think the reaction to Hunt's comments say more about society than they do about him. His words were silly but there are far worse offences committed by scientists every day. There are scientists who falsify data and plagiarise. There are scientists who ignore bodies of evidence which do not fit their pet theories. There are scientists who bully both sexes. Many of them get promotion or more funding.
So, why hunt Hunt?


JO said...

Why Hunt? Because he's made life tough for women in science - I have a daughter, who didn't go to private school, who is a forensic scientist. And she feels that she has to prove herself at every step - often proving herself to be much better than the men before anyone takes any notice of her. She feels that these silly comments have made life even tougher for her.

Anonymous said...

Hello Jo
I hope the person who writes this blog won't mind me commenting here but I would like to say I am sorry you feel that way about Tim Hunt.
Professor Hunt encouraged me, a "girl", to go into science. He has encouraged other women too. We don't feel the need to constantly "prove" ourselves. We just get on with it.
Science is "tough" but it is tough for everyone. Good work will be recognized whoever does it. We don't need to prove ourselves at every step or prove ourselves better. We just need to show we can do the job. Men need to show that too.
If Professor Hunt does not return to his work of encouraging young scientists we will be the losers.
Janet Robinson