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Science of apologies

Disgraced scientist thanks female colleagues for support after uproar over sexist remarks

By WITW Staff on June 22, 2015

Beleaguered Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt, who was forced to resign from several academic posts after a media storm erupted over his ill-advised comments on women in science, thanked hundreds of female scientists over the weekend who he says have come to his support. “My inbox is now bulging with touching emails from young women scientists who have been kind enough to write and thank me for inspiring them and helping them on their way,” Hunt told The Observer. “It has also been of great comfort to me to see many women at the top of science testifying for my record in supporting women scientists.” Top female scientists like physicist Dame Athene Donald, biologist Professor Ottoline Leyser and physiologist Dame Nancy Rothwell touted his past support for young scientists of both sexes, while also denouncing his “jocular remarks.” Hunt insisted that he had always sought to help female scientists in their work, explaining how he had “fought for seven years to have creche facilities at the Okinawa Institute of Science of Technology – and was ultimately successful.” He also pointed out that his remarks on women in science had not been fully reported by the media, as he added the phrase “now seriously” after his remarks, which he says indicated everything that the preceding remark was a joke, before going on to praise the role of women in science and in Korean society. However, Hunt acknowledged that his “idiotic joke” had touched an important nerve. “My comments have brought to the surface the anger and frustration of a great many women in science whose careers have been blighted by chauvinism and discrimination,” he said. “If any good is to come from this miserable affair, it should be that the scientific community starts to acknowledge this anger, recognize the problem and move a lot faster to remove the remaining barriers.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.