Nobel prize winner Tim Hunt resigns following ‘trouble with girls’ comments

11 Jun 2015

Tim Hunt, the Nobel prize winner who caused a storm this week when he made controversial comments about women being involved in science, has stepped down from his position at University College London (UCL).

A biochemist, Hunt was at an event in South Korea earlier this week when he 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.”

Evidently such remarks didn’t endear him to too many people, with UCL releasing a statement to confirm his departure from the position of honorary professor in the college’s Faculty of Life Sciences.

“UCL was the first university in England to admit women students on equal terms to men, and the university believes that this outcome is compatible with our commitment to gender equality.”

"Tim" Hunt, FRS FMedSci is an British biochemist.

British biochemist Tim Hunt stepped down from his UCL position – image via WikiCommons

Speaking to the BBC, Hunt was fairly embarrassed by the whole affair it seems, claiming it was meant as an ironic statement, “interpreted very seriously”.

However his words were “reported accurately”, and despite his apparent tongue-in-cheek remark, he “did mean the part about having trouble with girls”, he said.

“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,” he said, according to the BBC.

“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.”

Inspirefest 2015 is Silicon Republic’s international event running 18-20 June in Dublin that connects sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity.

Two scientists in a lab image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic