@1: It just occurred to me that the difference between the kind of interaction you describe, which is both common and useful, and Tim Hunt’s peculiar reaction to criticism in this situation is that men don’t like to be criticised by women. I know in my own work I have to be very cautious, and have developed all sorts of elaborate roundabout ways of expressing criticism, to make sure my points are heard and the men I’m criticising don’t have emotional meltdowns instead of engaging and learning as you’ve described. And this is particularly interesting in light of Hunt’s ‘women just cry when you criticise them’ thing.
After writing that comment I realised something that I’m going to share here, because it’s only just occurred to me how important it is to me. A year or so ago I was in a room with a female client and a male engineer. The male engineer physically attacked us when the female client pointed out, in a perfectly calm and rational way, that he had not demonstrated how his proposals met the requirements she’d stated in her project description. I’ve only just realised that this incident has had a significant effect on my career prospects–both I and my boss are now reluctant to assign me to any project he’s involved in, and it turns out that the projects he works on are ones that I’d be interested in doing and would excel in. I’m planning to leave this job, and leave STEM, imminently, and have literally only just realised that the fact that this man threatened me, and is now indirectly keeping me from being assigned to work I’m well suited for and could use to demonstrate my skills, is part of the reason.