In early June of this year, Noble Prize-winning biochemist Sir Tim Hunt made the following remarks at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea:
“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls… three things happen when they are in the lab… You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them, they cry.”
He then went on to say that he is personally in-favor of single-sex labs, while assuring audiences that he “doesn’t want to stand in the way of women.”
In a STEM environment in which women are already disadvantaged by obstacles that range from sexual harassment to institutional discrimination, Hunt’s words not only naturalizes any sexual harassment and sexism women experience at the hands of male colleagues and/or superiors, but also places the blame of such things on women’s presence in the lab.
Though Hunt has resigned from his teaching position at University College London, his sexist remarks are still indicative of how some male scientists feel about and act towards women in their field.
Thus, women scientists across fields and geography have taken a stand to protest and challenge the attitude and words of Hunt by satirizing his claim with the hashtag #DistractinglySexy.
— Sarah Durant (@SarahMDurant) June 11, 2015
As we see in the above tweet, female scientists satirize the notion of Hunt’s words that presence of women necessitates love happening in the lab and that women always cry at the mere presence of criticism by sharing pictures of themselves doing the daily tasks of their jobs with a sarcastic quip about how the presence of women doing the same tasks as male scientists becomes inherently “sexy.”
For more images of such awesome tweets and a further discussion of the problematics of Hunt’s words, especially in how they also serve to devalue emotions as simply detrimental to science, click this link to read the rest of The Mary Sue article: Female Scientists Use #DistractinglySexy Campaign to Protest Noble Winner’s Sexist Remarks.