Tim Hunt, a 72-year-old scientist who won the 2001 Nobel prize in physiology or medicine, reportedly gave a sexist speech at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea.
Hunt said, “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.”
His speech got reactions from scientists all over the world.
Seriously ppl, here on Twitter, we're laughing our progressive heads off, but men like Tim Hunt still run universities, businesses, politics
— KateMaltby (@KateMaltby) June 10, 2015
Tim Hunt's comments demonstrate that men are simply too irrational to work in scientific fields.
— Baenerys (@Auragasmic) June 9, 2015
The Royal Society posted a tweet saying Sir Tim's comments did not reflect its views.
— The Royal Society (@royalsociety) June 9, 2015
The organisation then released an official statement headlined “Science needs women” on their website.
They said “The Royal Society believes that in order to achieve everything that it can, science needs to make the best use of the research capabilities of the entire population. Sir Tim Hunt was speaking as an individual and his reported comments in no way reflect the views of the Royal Society.”
"Just meant to be honest"
Radio 4's Today programme spoke to Hunt on Wednesday to address his remarks.
Hunt said he did not want to cause any offence but he meant to be honest when he made those remarks.
Hunt said he was "really sorry that I said what I said," and that his words were "a very stupid thing to do in the presence of all those journalists."
However he added, "I did mean the part about having trouble with girls. It is true that people - I have fallen in love with people in the lab and people in the lab have fallen in love with me and it's very disruptive to the science because it's terribly important that in a lab people are on a level playing field.”
Hunt also said, "I found that these emotional entanglements made life very difficult.I'm really, really sorry I caused any offence, that's awful. I certainly didn't mean that. I just meant to be honest, actually."
Hunt won the Nobel Prize for discovering protein molecules that control the division of cells.