The Guardian wrote an editorial on the Tim Hunt question…a shockingly misleading one for the first two paragraphs. Wouldn’t you think newspapers would manage to get the basic facts right, especially three weeks in?
Those first two paras:
It is three weeks since Sir Tim Hunt, a Nobel prize winner, shared his sexist opinion of female scientists – distractingly sexy, prone to weep when criticised and best segregated at work – with a room full of science writers. His remarks were relayed into the Twittersphere by several of those present, including British-based science writer Connie St Louis. At once, he came under global and sometimes viciously personal attack on social media. He delivered a non-apology on BBC radio. According to his wife, also a senior scientist at UCL, it was made clear to her that to protect UCL’s reputation, he had to resign.
Within 24 hours of his after-dinner speech, he had gone. By the weekend, he was complaining to sympathisers that he had been hung out to dry, unleashing a wave of support that included famous colleagues such as Richard Dawkins and Brian Cox. Today Jonathan Dimbleby joined the protest. Next week, UCL’s council meets and the Hunt affair will once again be on the agenda. This bitter mix of resentments amplified by the polarising environment of social media should have met a calmer official response. But the professor still had to go.
Unbelievable, isn’t it? It sounds as if UCL told Mary Collins that Hunt had to resign from an actual job at UCL. It sounds as if Tim Hunt had a regular academic job at UCL that he was forced to resign. No one who didn’t already know could possibly tell from that opening that the Guardian is talking about an honorary professorship, one explicitly held at the pleasure of UCL and subject to withdrawal at any time – not a regular tenured job with a contract and salary. It would be interesting to know how much of this ridiculous fuss has been caused by the abject failure of news organizations to make that clear from the beginning.
Only in the third paragraph does the Graun admit that it was an honorary post that Hunt was pushed to resign (assuming it’s true that he was pushed). That’s three paragraphs too late.
It goes on to say grudgingly that sexism in science is bad ok, but all the weight was put on the bogus claim that Hunt was forced to resign. Nice job, Guardian.