Sign that mofo

Connie St Louis set up a petition. It has only 195 signatures so far. Let’s do better.

Its time to elect a female president to lead the Royal Society

The Royal Society was founded in 1660. In that time there has never been a female President at its helm. This may not be surprising in the light of sexist comments made by one of it’s Nobel Laureates, Tim Hunt, in Seoul, Korea on 8 June 2015 at a lunch sponsored by the Korean Female Scientists and Engineers. Royal Fellow and Nobel Laureate, Tim Hunt took the podium: identifying himself as a “male chauvinist pig,” he declared that he found the charms of “girls” who enter scientific fields inherently distracting, and, astoundingly, proposed “single-sex labs” as a solution. The Royal Society have refused to censure him in any way and have only distanced themselves from his comment.  If they are ‘committed to a diverse science workforce”, why have they not elected a female scientist to be the head of this organisation? Please join me in asking them to redress this inequality in November 2015 when a new Presidential term begins.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    As a feminist, I approve the sentiment; as a copy editor, I bemoan the specific wordage & punctuation.

    And I say this as a mere colonial; no doubt actually English speakers and writers of English now writhe helplessly in puddles of their own bodily fluids.

  2. Erp says

    They’ve already elected the next president, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (Chemistry Nobel 2009).

    A problem is that they tend to draw from a rather exclusive group even within the FRS (having a Nobel prize greatly increases your chances and there aren’t many British women with science prizes). I took a look at the list of female FRS ( and assumed one would probably have to be an elected member for at least 10 years before becoming president and yet not too old. My guess is that Nancy Rothwell or Fiona Watt are the best bets (Jocelyn Bell Burnell is unfortunately too old). A lot of the British academic establishment can be very conservative socially. The Royal Society admitted women only starting in the 1940s (except for honorary Royals). Trinity College, a bastion of Nobel laureates and Royal Society presidents, didn’t elect a women Fellow until 1977 (and only has one woman FRS at this time). I wonder which will be first, Trinity electing a woman master or the Royal Society electing a woman president?

    The Royal Society could do with some women in the junior positions also though I suspect a junior position is not a good stepping stone to the presidency.

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