Janet Stemwedel takes a different view of the reactions to Tim Hunt from that of Professor Richard Dawkins FRS. Her view is pretty much the opposite of his.
The vigorous reactions to remarks by biochemist Tim Hunt about women in science on social media and elsewhere are being cast as “internet shaming.” That’s a mistake. The reactions are, in fact, exactly part of the way scientists engage with each other to build knowledge.
Tim Hunt, winner (with Paul Nurse and Leland H. Hartwell) of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, made news last week for remarks he made to members of the Korea Federation of Women’s Science and Technology Associations at a luncheon at the 2015 World Conference of Science Journalists…
…Asked to clarify his position, Hunt asserted that he “meant the remarks to be humorous” but affirmed that he “just meant to be honest.” In the wake of the public criticism, Hunt resigned an honorary post (one with no salary, teaching responsibilities, or lab space) at University College London (UCL), though there are conflicting accounts of whether this resignation was voluntary or not. Now, the vocal criticism of Hunt’s remarks is being characterized using hyperbolic terms like “lynchmob,” “witch-hunt,” and “disemboweling.”
Stemwedel cites Robert Merton’s “norms of science,” in particular universalism (everybody can contribute to science and social status is beside the point) and organized skepticism (is what Hunt said a crock of shit?).
There’s another facet of the situation worth considering in the context of the norms of science: the content of Hunt’s controversial claims seem to reveal him to be falling short on the norm of universalism.
Merton wrote about instances where members of the scientific community failed to live up to the norms of science, usually due to pressures from the larger societies in which the scientists were embedded. Writing in 1942, when pressures from the Nazi regime on German scientists were likely on his mind, Merton noted:
Scientists may assimilate caste-standards and close their ranks to those of inferior status, irrespective of capacity or achievement. But this provokes an unstable situation. Elaborate ideologies are called forth to obscure the incompatibility of caste-mores and the institutional goals of science. Caste-inferiors must be shown to be inherently incapable of scientific work or, at the very least, their contributions must be systematically devalued. 
It’s hard not to see Hunt’s remarks about “the trouble with girls” in the lab as suggesting that women as a group are inherently incapable of scientific work because of their emotions, or their tendency to provoke emotions in men (who are assumed to be capable of scientific work). His claims, in other words, work to identify women as caste-inferiors rather than to recognize them as equal members of the scientific community.
But preemptively characterizing women scientists as a group as likely to cry, as Hunt did, falls down on universalism, writing them out of the knowledge-building conversation before they’ve even had a chance to be heard. (Writing women off like this is ironic in light of the contributions women made to the research for which Hunt shares a Nobel Prize with two other men.)
Professor Richard Dawkins FRS please note.