A blistering explanation of what’s sexist about the backlash against the response to Tim Hunt’s day out by medical doctor Amy Tuteur.
Tim Hunt made offensive comments about women scientists in front of a group of women scientists. He apologized and he resigned.
Many men feel very bad about this.
No, not bad about the fact that Hunt felt free to humiliate women at a meeting designed to honor them. Be serious! They felt bad that any male scientist should be held to account for his not so subtle put down.
Maybe they wouldn’t mind it so much if he were a young bench scientist – but Tim Hunt is senior and important. Senior important guys shouldn’t be held to account, because not being held to account should be one of the perks of being senior and important.
There are a few apologists that are willing to acknowledge the obvious, but then minimize its significance. Jonathan Dimbleby, a broadcaster and writer has resignedhis honorary appointment at University College of London, in solidarity with Tim Hunt.
According to Dimbleby:
This is not an offence that should be enough to ensure a distinguished scientist should be told to resign his position.
Woah! What’s next? Donating the proceeds from sale of his unicorn? Nothing like demonstrating your support (resigning an honorary post) in a way that changes nothing and costs you nothing.
I like the unicorn line.
Moreover … and let me see if I can spell it in terms Hunt’s apologists can understand … the issue is not the joke. The issue is the gender bias behind the joke. Someone who feels free to make women the butt of his jokes at a conference designed to honor women may be so clueless about his own gender bias that he feels equally free to display and act on it in his treatment of his female graduate students.
Tim Hunt was entirely free to make offensive remarks to women. Connie St. Louis was entirely free to report his remarks. UCL was entirely free to condemn him for it.
The fact that apologists think there should be no consequences for Hunt’s speech, but condemnation and worse for those who were offended by it, is a classic tactic in dismissing gender bias, and it is unacceptable.