This unfortunate incident must not be portrayed as a private story told as a joke

Also of interest, the letter that the Korea Federation of Women’s Science and Technology Associations sent to Tim Hunt asking him to apologize for being so obnoxious at the lunch they hosted.

Dear Sir Tim Hunt,
We, the members of the Korea Federation of Women’s Science and
Technology Associations (KOFWST), the sponsoring organization of the WCSJ
luncheon on June 8, 2015, decided to request your official acknowledgement
and apology for the remarks made at the luncheon. Attached, please find,
our call for apology. We hope to get your response within 24 hours. Your
prompt and sincere apology is the least we can ask for any future
collaboration with Korean scientists.
Yours sincerely,
Hee Young Paik, President

KOFWST call for apology over inappropriate comments
made by Sir Tim Hunt
At a luncheon hosted by the Korea Federation of Women’s Science and
Technology Associations (KOFWST) during the World Conference of Science
Journalists in Seoul on June 8, 2015, Nobel Laureate Sir Tim Hunt made
some inappropriate remarks over which KOFWST would like to express its
very strong regrets.
Sir Tim Hunt said that if men and women work in the same lab: “You fall in
love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticize them, they
cry.” As women scientists we were deeply shocked and saddened by these
remarks, but we are comforted by the widespread angered response from
international social and news media: we are not alone in seeing these
comments as sexist and damaging to science.
In a subsequent BBC interview, Sir Tim Hunt elaborated on his statement,
saying that “I did mean [it]” and “I meant to be honest.” His “honest”
beliefs reveal deep gender prejudices and bias in how women’s role in
science is perceived. The international science community, including Korea,
has been making great efforts to overcome persistent gender inequalities in
science that prevent women advance on equal terms with men. During the
last several decades, efforts made by Korean society, government and
individuals helped make great strides toward a more gender equal society.
We cannot allow sexism to undermine this progress.
Although Dr. Hunt is a senior and highly accomplished scientist in his field
who has closely collaborated with Korean scientists in the past, his
comments have caused great concern and regret in Korea. They show that
old prejudices are still well embedded in science cultures. On behalf of
Korean female scientists, and all Koreans, we wish to express our great
disappointment that these remarks were made at the event hosted by
KOFWST. This unfortunate incident must not be portrayed as a private story
told as a joke. We cannot accept sexist remarks that threaten [to] reverse
the gains made towards equality for women scientists, and women in the
wider society.
On behalf of all women scientists in Korea and the world, we at KOFWST
ask Dr. Hunt to acknowledge the seriousness of his remarks and extend a
sincere and prompt apology in order for gender equality in science. Such
an apology is the least that he can do in order to facilitate his future
fruitful collaboration with Korean scientists.
KOFWST will continue to make every effort to foster a society, in which men
and women can collaborate harmoniously and without gender bias or
discrimination, to succeed.

Has Dawkins complained about them? Has Brian Cox? Has the Spectator? Has the Daily Mail? Do they all think the Korea Federation of Women’s Science and Technology Associations has no business asking a guest to apologize for patronizing and insulting them at their own lunch?

I haven’t seen any of them complaining about that – I’ve only seen them complaining about more local women, women from the US and the UK, who object to Tim Hunt’s patronizing insults. I’m going to guess that’s because they think they have more authority over local women – that local women are “their” women while Korean women are someone else’s business to keep in line. In other words they may feel a little more bashful about trying to bully women in distant foreign countries. They may have a vague sense that it wouldn’t look good.

Hunt did apologize by the way.


  1. sambarge says

    Also, where are their complaints/concerns for women like Anita Sarkeesian or Brianna Wu or Rebecca Watson? Do you want to talk about people being attacked online until they fear for their lives? Well, great! I’d love it if we all talked about that too and if we all practiced social intolerance for that behaviour.

    But since Dawkins and Cox couldn’t be arsed to care (or in Dawkins’s case, they’ve actually participated in the abuse) until an old, white man felt some online heat, then I don’t give a fuck what they think.

  2. karmacat says

    So now there is a whole country that disagrees with Dawkins et al about Tim Hunt’s remarks. You would think that would shut them up, but that would require some introspection which seems lacking

  3. citpeks says

    @karmacat, There is one federation of organizations that reside in Korea saying this. Conflating their statement with the opinions of all Korea is counterproductive.

  4. culuriel says

    The fact that Hunt apologized should really shame the people who keep insisting that it’s been overblown, or anyone reported it unfaithfully.

  5. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    The fact that Hunt apologized should really shame the people who keep insisting that it’s been overblown, or anyone reported it unfaithfully.

    That implies said people have the capacity for shame.

  6. xyz says

    This is both sad and hilarious. Dawkins and company are basically hoping they can gaslight the entire internet into thinking what Hunt said is just a joke. C’mon you guys, who are we going to believe, Richard Dawkins, or our lying eyes, ears, multiple journalists, and an official statement from Hunt’s hosts at the lunch?

    I mean… it really makes me wonder how many demeaning comments have been swept under the rug by Hunt’s defenders in various work environments where there WEREN’T cameras and journalists present and the sexist comments weren’t part of official, public remarks. What other “jokes” have they excused away over the years? What other “witch hunts” have they nipped in the bud?

  7. says

    Oh, I can tell you the answer to that question, because I’ve been seeing it from a LOT of people over the past few days – the answer is many many many. Hunt’s “joke” was completely typical and ordinary; it’s the pushback that’s unusual.

  8. xyz says

    I can only imagine. But if they can bring out this kind of aggrieved entitlement in a situation where there’s ample documented proof they are wrong, I’d sure hate to get on their bad side in a he said, she said situation.

  9. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I’d sure hate to get on their bad side in a he said, she said situation.

    Ahem… see the Interwebs Court Case of Michael Nugent and Slymepit v. PZ Myers, Poopyhead for daring to suggest Michael Shermer might have done something bad.


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