'Trouble With Girls' Scientist: I've Been 'Hung Out to Dry'

Tim Hunt says it was just a dumb thing to say, but he's not sexist
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2015 10:00 AM CDT
'Trouble With Girls' Scientist: I've Been 'Hung Out to Dry'
A 2001 photo of Dr. Tim Hunt, winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, who says he was forced to resign after his "trouble with girls" comments.   (Alastair Grant)

Tim Hunt gave a less-than-full-throated apology over his "trouble with girls" in science comments, and he's now underscoring that sentiment by adding that it was definitely not his idea to step down in the ruckus that ensued. "I have been hung to dry by academic institutes who have not even bothered to ask me for my side of affairs," he tells the Guardian in a joint interview given with his wife, prominent immunologist Mary Collins. "It was an unbelievably stupid thing to say," says Collins, but Hunt is no sexist and "certainly not an old dinosaur. He just says silly things now and again." Both claim University College London, where both worked, forced him to resign his post, then very publicly distanced itself instead of the "low-key affair" Collins says they were promised.

Hunt's dominoes have swiftly toppled as other scientific bodies back away from him. But the AP notes that Hunt has been defended by several prominent women scientists. Says one of his former undergraduate students: "It is quite clear to me that he is not a sexist in any way. I don’t know why he said those silly things, but the way his remarks have been taken up implies that women in science are having a horrible time. That is not the case." Hunt doesn't appear to be under any illusions that he'll redeem himself. "I am finished," he says. "I have become toxic. I think I may have more time for the garden now—especially the quince trees." (More Nobel laureates stories.)

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