Uta Frith at an Ada Lovelace Day editathon in the Royal Society

Uta Frith at an Ada Lovelace Day editathon in the Royal Society. Image credit: Katie Chan, CC BY-SA 3.0

Little did I know that, having just started as chair of our new Diversity Committee, that gender bias would suddenly come into the spotlight of public opinion. This followed the unacceptable remarks at a public event attributed to one of our most distinguished Fellows. Sir Tim Hunt was baffled by the effect of his words on others, and I admit that I too was baffled, but for very different reasons.

His remarks at first seemed to me just a drop in the bucket of millions of similar ones made every day about women in the workplace, often by decent men who would be horrified to be regarded as misogynists. For me they confirmed an age old stereotype of women as trouble, so old that it goes back to Adam and Eve. But they were the drop that finally caused the bucket to flow over. They became a catalyst for a deep-seated bitterness to pour out of people, not only women, who simply felt that enough was enough. This was an outpouring waiting to happen. It needed just that little drop.

What is the bitterness about? Injustice, plain and simple. And it coincides with my own anxieties as chair of the Diversity committee. The bitterness is sustained by the strong feeling that women have not had a fair chance to succeed in science. This is a serious problem in science in general, but it is also a problem for the Royal Society. It is a fact that only 105 out of 1569 Fellows are women (6.7%). It is a fact that only 22 out of 106 of the awards and medals given by the Society over the last 5 years were given to women and that over those five years only 22% of the successful candidates on the Royal Society’s University Research Fellows and Sir Henry Dale Fellows were women.

There are many signs of improvements: the low rate of applications and the low rate of success of women in various fellowship competitions is being examined; the Rosalind Franklin Prize represents a great opportunity to celebrate women; Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowships are rightly seen as spearheading beneficial changes in the conditions for postdoctoral fellowships. Rather more women Fellows are getting elected in recent years and hopefully this trend will continue.  Most striking of all, 11 out of 23 members of Council, the elected ruling body of the Society, are women. But are these signs strong enough to quell the disquiet?

As the case of Tim Hunt has shown, prejudice is unacceptable even if meant in jest. The Royal Society as an institution quickly dissociated itself from his remarks. It was necessary to affirm the truth of its genuine wish to do away with the obstacles that stand in the way of women’s careers in science. To do nothing would send a signal that it is acceptable to trivialise women’s achievement in science. Institutions can do things that individuals can’t. As individuals, whether we are Fellows of the Royal Society or anyone else, we are all capable of saying things that are inappropriate and foolish. Without being aware of it, we favour our ingroup, and are ready to disrespect outgroups, often in rather subtle ways. We are human and we are fallible. Institutions try to transcend this weakness, even if they don’t always succeed.

The Royal Society has been referred to as a bastion of old, white, males, but this caricature is getting rapidly out of date. There are strong stirrings of change and these go back to the predecessors to the Diversity Committee, EDAN and the Diversity Programme Steering Group. The President, Sir Paul Nurse, has stated that achieving a better gender balance is a priority. As one of the short videos celebrating 350 years of scientific publishing shows, women can now feel as Equals, but this dates from quite recent changes in the Royal Society’s history.

The Society has changed many times over the last 350 years, and we are now undergoing such a change again. We now know that a diverse and mixed workforce is the most productive way to conduct science. We now proclaim that any senior scientist has a responsibility to bring the benefits of diversity to their lab. He or she has to make sure that this environment nurtures and cherishes the most talented scientists, whatever their circumstances, regardless of gender, age, class, culture or provenance.

What to do next?

How can we make science careers more attractive for talented and brilliant people who might be lost to science? What can we do to make labs and workplaces more supportive and the people in charge more accepting and respectful of people who are not currently part of the ingroup?

A number of Fellows including Athene Donald, Dorothy Bishop and David Colquhoun have spontaneously written about their determination to work for the advancement of women. We now have a strategy for Diversity, and this does not only encompass women, but also other currently disadvantaged groups. For example, we have a series of case studies that showcase different roads to science and unusual role models.

I believe that for us at the Royal Society the main problem is not overt prejudice, but the hidden anachronistic assumptions and attitudes, the sort that sometimes surface in jokes. One frequently touted remedy is implicit bias training, but I am a bit wary of this. I will not rehearse the many studies that have shown that virtually all of us, women as well as men, are harbouring such a bias to some extent, even if we consciously reject it. Training has been shown to be beneficial in that it shocks people when they confront the truth that what they consciously think is not the same as what they feel unconsciously. However, our enlightened selves exert rather weak control on our everyday behaviour, and every one of us is only too ready to think of themselves as less prejudiced than the average person. It will be very difficult to root out the often subtle put-downs of women and other members of out-groups that slip into references or discussions. We can detect them more easily in others than in ourselves, and therefore we can help each other by calling them out. Calling out unacceptable remarks made by Fellows in public is a case in point.

At the Diversity Committee we are considering a number of activities that might tame our inner dinosaur and celebrate our enlightened phoenix. I will report on these activities as they happen, and they will actively involve the Fellowship, the grant holders, the alumni, the staff, in short, everybody connected with the Royal Society.

All of us on the committee are determined that what we do is not merely a gesture. There will be no overnight solution. We are in it for the long haul.

  • George

    I don’t think that institutionalising presumed guilt, of a mere thought crime (unconscious bias), sets a very enlightened example at all. We also learn that the Tim Hunt story is more complex and nuanced than many people wish to acknowledge. Nor do Maoist style re-education schemes set a very enlightened example – based on public humiliation-confession-brainwashing. “Nulls in verba” – my bottom !

    • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

      Supreme irony that one of Hunts, totally a joke honest fella, points was that women cannot take criticism… Just look at you, what a specimen!
      “institutionalising presumed guilt”
      “thought crime”
      “Maoist style re-education”
      “humiliation-confession-brainwashing”

      “Won’t someone think of the children!!”
      OK, I added the last one. But what a load over over emotional testerical hogwash, grow up and take a little bit of criticism without throwing your toys out of the pram.

      • George Spiggot

        Now OOlon,

        I happen to be a woman. I used the name George (viz George Elliot) hoping to show the hypocrisy and unfairness of the supposed crime of unconscious bias. You may be familiar where gendered names on papers or CVs are used to expose bias. Your statement :

        “Over emotional testerical all hogwash”, clearly assumes I am a man and implies that as a result my views are the result of hormones. Consider if a man said the same about a woman, you no, doubt would be up in arms.

        Anyhow, I nearby ‘ call you out’ ! No nuance, or reply, no context. Entirely on the literal face value of your statements and the implied gender bias.

        Now resign.

        • george spiggot

          nope – oolon. Nothing to add ?

      • george spiggot

        actually oolon i really liked your reply , and all the up-votes it has got, from some of the Tim Hunt persecutors. “women cannot take criticism… Just look at you, what a specimen! ” again blatantly sexist, assuming I’m male, and hypocritical.

        Some good may come of this in that the public will see the shallow hypocrisy of academic social justice warriors. Sad tho to see the RS traduced to the level of an infantile student political group.

        I predict a flurry of law suits against the persecutors and their institutions, possibly even this blog by Frith is libellous?

        The government will have to tweak our laws to protect and counter balance this totalitarian nonsense, perhaps criminalising malicious false accusations.

        • Philip Moriarty

          A major issue with those who hide behind a pseudonym is, of course, that we can’t verify who they are. Moreover, sockpuppetry can be a major issue. (See http://physicsfocus.org/dark-side-post-publication-peer-review/)

          I’d be more convinced of your claims if you weren’t hiding behind a pseudonym…

    • jdm8

      Please point out where she suggests presumed guilt or Maoist re-education. You talk about complexity and nuance, then resort to hyperbole.

    • Brian Hall

      Well said.

  • Brian Hall

    This convinces me, that with the Royal Society supporting a witch hunt against one of its members, against a small minority of broadcasters and lackeys, that Royal Society is not for me or people like me.

    In my viewpoint it would be irresponsible NOT to advise children and adults that if you value common sense, the assumption of innocence rather than guilt and fair treatment for all that the sciences in the UK are not a place to be, as even the Royal Society will not defend the rights of scientists.

    • ahermit

      ‘Witch hunt?” Seriously?

      Given Hunts comments about how women supposedly break down in tears when criticized it’s actually quite amusing to see the hysterical (and yes I use that word deliberately and ironically) reaction .from so many men to what was nothing more than a lighthearted twitter hashtag and some thoughful criticism.

      • Brian Hall

        An esteemed and scientifically respected Nobel Laureate, who had done many great works for society and for students of all genders was driven to despair based upon several individuals who made allegations which have now been found to be roundly false.

        The Royal Society has done nothing other than to encourage that and has not intervened to remove that toxic element.

        When the facts change I change my position, what do you do?

        Do you and the Royal Society continue to be nothing more than cheerleaders for some schoolyard bullies and excuse this because it is ‘funny’?

        If that is the standard of the Royal Society and its numerous ancillary bodies then as I have already stated it is not an institution I consider to be fit for purpose.

        • Dan Wheatley

          what are these false allegations?

          • Brian Hall

            Several articles were published to buzzfeed which have now been pulled.

            The allegations made by Deborah Blum and Connie St Louise which ‘cherry picked’ the statements to invent a problem that did not exist are now debunked by the transcript and the testimony of many other attendees.

            Of course, I think we see what is going on here: The Royal Society and also the UCL know very well that the allegations were hyped and false. They know that it is their professional responsibility to offer guidance protect their members against lynch mobs.

            But they got it wrong but it is brave to admit they made a mistake:

            And they are cowards.

          • Dan Wheatley

            So are you saying that he didn’t say the thing about girls falling in love with you/you falling in love with them/girls cry when you criticise them?

          • Dan Wheatley
  • http://nigguraths.wordpress.com Shub Niggurath

    If you are in it for the long haul you would not harm an individual’s reputation and career falsely.

  • http://cruwys.blogspot.co.uk Debbie Kennett

    I see this affair in a very different light. I have an unpaid position as an Honorary Research Associate in a science department at UCL. I therefore have no contract, and could be removed from my post at any time. The major benefit of my post is that I have access to the UCL online library so I can now access from home all the scientific papers that were previously locked away behind expensive paywalls. I think it’s very important that decisions should be based on evidence, and that everyone should have the right to a fair trial and should be given a second chance. If the original reports attributed to Hunt were correct then I think that UCL and the Royal Society possibly did indeed make the right decision. However, a very different picture is now emerging of what happened in Seoul with other eye witnesses, including two females, telling very different stories. It is one thing to call out unacceptable remarks in public but it is a different matter when the people who do so provide those remarks out of context and put their own spin on what was said. As far as I’m aware no one at UCL or the Royal Society has made any attempt to weigh up the evidence in this particular case. Rather than feeling supported I now feel very vulnerable because it seems that if I make joking comments in public that are misrepresented and cause offence I too could be presumed guilty without any investigation and removed from my post. I do not want special treatment as a female. I want males and females to be treated equally and with kindness and compassion.

    • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

      What different story? You mean Dawkins etc trying to rewrite history where he was drummed out of his “job” by a team of feminist bullies. Hunt apologised for his comments nearly 20 days ago now – and *reiterated* the sexist rubbish in his apology!
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33077107

      • http://cruwys.blogspot.co.uk Debbie Kennett

        I mean the stories that have been published in The Times:

        http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/science/article4482533.ece

        http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/science/article4479101.ece

        http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/science/article4478368.ece

        Unfortunately these stories are mostly behind a paywall and so have not been as widely circulated as the original articles which misleadingly quoted Hunt out of context and also contained many inaccuracies. People should be judged on evidence.

        • Dan Wheatley

          we knew he was “just joking” from the start, and it changes precisely NOTHING, nor does the fact that some applauded. Also, the very people who were organising (and presumably therefore attended) the lecture had this to say:
          https://conniestlouis.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/press-release-kofwst-and-sir-tim-hunt_june-17.pdf

          FWIW he did apologise after this, but the subsequent furore has shown there are many MANY people apart from him who do not understand the issue here.

          • Feanorr

            Noone’s saying that it being a joke changes anything. It’s the context of the joke, and the subject of the joke, that changes everything. The subject was clearly himself; the context was clearly his view that science needs more women.
            Also, noone’s saying that it wasn’t a silly thing to say. It clearly was. But it was just silly – nothing more, and definitely not warranting the sort of response it got.

          • http://cruwys.blogspot.co.uk Debbie Kennett

            There is a big difference between a self-deprecating joke at one’s own expense based on personal experience and making derogatory generalised comments about all women. The context also makes a huge difference (eg, the addition of the words “now seriously”). A number of the statements attributed to Hunt in the initial reports in the Mail and the Guardian and on the Today programme have since been proven to be false. He did not say “I’m in favour of single-sex labs.” He did not say “I hope the women have prepared the lunch”. The latter quote was based on a misinterpretation of a tweet and has since been corrected: http://www.buzzfeed.com/catferguson/nobel-prize-winner-is-a-sexist The press release from the KOWFST is a statement from their President Hee Young Paik, and is based on an out of context report of what Hunt said, presumably based on the Mail and Guardian articles. It is not known if Paik was at the conference or if she consulted with anyone else before issuing the press release. If someone makes a comment that offends you at a conference wouldn’t a considerate and ethical reaction be to have a quiet word with the organisers rather than tweet the offending remarks to the world? The reporting of this affair has also been unethical and irresponsible. Neither the Mail nor the Guardian even had the courtesy to give Hunt the right of response before publishing their exaggerated and mocking stories, and they made no attempt to verify the accounts with other sources. The big issue is not sexism in science but irresponsible journalism. If someone has committed a “crime”, regardless of the nature of that crime, they deserve a right to a fair hearing and not trial by journalism and social media. If you’re going to conduct a fair hearing it takes time to gather the evidence and form a judgement. Instead everyone has been playing Chinese whispers and due process has not been followed.

        • S

          Hunt admitted to saying what he did.

          • Feanorr

            Yes. And noone else is saying he didn’t use all but one of the words attributed to him.
            The point is that his words were taken out of context. In context, the joke was clearly intended as a self-deprecating one *about* sexism. It’s clearly not meant to be. It was a silly thing to say but once put in context it really wasn’t the awful chauvinist speech it was made out to be.
            The accusations of dishonesty are about the removal of context and about changing “my problem with girls” into “the problem with girls”.

        • Jane Robertson

          Try this evidence from his Korean hosts

  • Ricky

    It’s deeply disturbing that UCL/Royal Society, supposedly the paragon of intellectual thought, would rush to judgement without even asking for Hunt’s side of the story. Forget about the freedom to express heretical ideas, what about basic fact checking and due process?

    • http://oolon.co.uk/ oolon

      Hunt apologised for his comments, this was about 20 days ago. I’m not seeing the “rush” … http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33077107

    • Dan Wheatley

      and what exactly do you think his side of the story might have been?

      • Ricky

        I expect they lay the facts on the table and discredit whatever sexist prejudice like intellectuals.

    • Dan Wheatley

      and what might his side have been, exactly?

    • Judith Shapiro

      Why should we forget about the freedom to express heretical ideas?

  • CharleyFarleyFive

    This whole sorry affair has all the hallmarks of a witch-hunt. Reactionary zealotry with a disturbing air of schadenfreude now all too familiar in the world of on-line feminist activism.

    • Daisy Rafter

      Yep all the hallmarks of a witch hunt, ya know, except that Tim Hunt was criticized for stuff he actually did as opposed to imaginary, impossible stuff and only lost a couple honorary positions as opposed to being kidnapped, tortured and murdered. Other than those teeny, tiny, totally unimportant details it’s exactly the same!

      • Brian Hall

        If you look carefully at the upvotes here you will see that Hilda Bastian; one of the ‘so called’ scientists and journalists who is a leader in the witch hunt and her mob of vandals are here in this thread.

        • Dan Wheatley

          so you are now “calling out” Hilda Bastian (and Connie St Louis, above) for saying things you find objectionable, even though they have the “freedom of speech” to do so – is this too a witch hunt then?

          • Brian Hall

            They absolutely have freedom of speech and call outs work both ways when it comes to vandals kid.

      • jbrisby

        Sarcasm: The half-wit’s wit.

        • Dan Wheatley

          pithy one-liners: an attempt to dodge the substance of the point made… also doesn’t that make Hunt a half-wit?

      • CharleyFarleyFive

        Firstly how do you know what he ‘actually did’, were you there? Secondly was on earth has ‘being kidnapped, tortured and murdered’ got to do with anything? Anyone with a modicum of wit is well aware ‘witch hunt’ is a figure of speech. I have to assume your being disingenuous.

        You might want to look into the merry go round of Tweets between David Colquhoun, Connie St Louis, Deborah Blum and various others who really should know better.

    • Alastor Russell

      Yes, all the hallmarks of a witch hunt… except the witches, the hunting, the physical torture, and the public burning at the stake. Otherwise, they are exactly the same.

      • tlitb1

        Could “witch hunt” be allowed to be meant in the same way as it was used to describe the Senator McCarthy 1950s House Un-American Activities Committee?

        As in “Are you now, or have you ever, shown prejudice?”

        Though maybe not actually, since no actual questioning stage seems to be required when detecting *prejudice* since we’ve established Hunt *is* prejudiced with this fantastic scientific observation implicit above:

        “… the case of Tim Hunt has shown, prejudice [and is] unacceptable even if meant in jest.” ;)

        • Dan Wheatley

          if he had said similar things about black people, or gay people, or Jews, even if he was joking, do you not think that would be unacceptable?

          • tlitb1

            “if he had said similar things about black people, or gay people, or Jews, even if he was joking, do you not think that would be unacceptable?”

            “said similar” covers a lot of imaginary sins. How about – since this is a sciencey type place and all- we just sticking to the few words that seem to be generally accepted?

            i.e. these:

            “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 criticize them they cry.”

            What the hell, let’s even forget any context.

            Well let’s see; if we modified those words so he is saying them about gay people then he would definitely be self-deprecating wouldn’t he? Surely that would be OK? Because he would then almost certainly be declaring himself bisexual by saying he falls in love with gays in the lab?

            As for racial substitution. Well you could limit it to “Let me tell you about my trouble with [some race]”, but then you would have to forget the other bits about ‘love’ though wouldn’t you?

            Why don’t you tell us all what racially charged equivalent statement you are imaging?

            Maybe you have a better way to remove the ‘love’ and add in some of the “bitterness” Ms Frith was telling us about above? ;)

          • Dan Wheatley

            The things said about women (in this case) go along with their corresponding stereotypes. The most egregious of the things he said, imho, was the crying after criticism and th subsequent joke about gender-segregated labs. A parallel /might/ be (I am not so good at this but here we go)

            “The trouble with ethnic minority scientists is that they just don’t talk like the rest of us and the result is total confusion in laboratory settings. Plus they can’t take it when you criticise their work – they’re just not like proper English scientists. Maybe we should have racially segregated labs! But seriously…”

            or

            “The trouble with gay scientists is that they fall in love with you which means you have to walk with your back to the wall all the time – not good for science! Plus they can’t take it when you criticise their work and get in a huff – maybe we should have separate labs! But seriously…”

            Obviously these are counter-factual but neither would be acceptable, even if joking or self-deprecating, particularly from an ambassador for diversity/equality, and particularly when addressing a room full of whichever minority was being joked about. There is clearly a similarity with women in the actual events, similarly being joked about using hackneyed stereotypes, and similarly against the background of profound asymmetry in the (in this case gender but could have been black people/gay people etc) make-up of the field.

          • tlitb1

            Well in that case it does appear you have to rely on leaving out the symmetry about mutual love to create your alternatives then.

      • tlitb1

        Could “witch hunt” be allowed to be meant in the same way as it was used to describe the Senator MCarthy 1950s House Un-American Activities Committee?

        As in “Are you now, or have you ever, shown prejudice?”

        Though maybe not actually, since no actual questioning stage seems to be required when detecting prejudice here.

        It appears we’ve established Hunt *is* prejudiced with the fantastic scientific observation implicit above that merely hearing reports of a few sentences from Tim Hunt can *show* his prejudice without regard to any possible context.

      • CharleyFarleyFive

        An odd and largely pointless reply, presumably born of boredom?

  • Imogen

    Uta – Thank you for writing this. You are spot-on and I agree completely. Keep up the good work and pace yourselves because real change is a marathon not a sprint. See also http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/dr-imogen-coe/women-in-science_b_7667232.html for the power of social media in supporting and connecting women in science. Phoenix not dinosaur indeed…

  • Kate Jeffery

    This is an excellent article and I’m very glad the Royal Society is making this move towards equality (hopefully not just in gender).

    Like others, however, I am uneasy about the Royal Society’s, and UCL’s, response to the Hunt affair. Your article mentions twice that “unacceptable remarks” will not be tolerated, but who is the arbiter of acceptibility? Quite a few people – well over 50% if my twitter feed is to be believed – seem to think that Hunt’s satire (as it seems it was) was an acceptable rhetorical device given the context. The whole point of satire is to make outrageous comments as way to emphasize, in a humorous way, the opposite viewpoint, so when stripped of context then of *course* satirical remarks are offensive. That some of Hunt’s caricature was self-mockery (“…chauvinist monster like me”; “… I was being honest”) doesn’t invalidate the satire.

    Are some subjects too serious for satire? Perhaps, and you have cogently outlined why – but who decides which subjects these are? These things can change over time. Two august bodies seem to have decided, without consultation and without informing anybody, that on the subject of gender, satire is not tolerable (contrary, as I say above, to the views of many). It’s a defensible rule but it doesn’t seem fair to have kept it quiet and then applied it retrospectively.

    One more thing – Royal Society members are often elderly, and social attitudes change tremendously over time: sometimes elders’ attitudes can be slow to catch up with the changes. Perhaps it is time to think of media training for FRSs so that they know what is currently acceptable speech to young ears. And perhaps younger scientists could use some tolerance training so as to forgive their elders for some of their antiquated ways. Diversity, after all, includes age and attitudes as well as gender…

    • Philip Moriarty

      “…sometimes elders’ attitudes can be slow to catch up with the changes

      I find this a worryingly patronising attitude, I’m afraid. As one key counter-example, David Colquhoun is six years older than Hunt…

      https://twitter.com/david_colquhoun/status/610095205866434560

      • Brian Hall

        And has been worse than Tim Hunt, happily laughing at sexist jokes towards his wife.

    • Judith Shapiro

      Isn’t anyone here concerned to defend the right to make unpleasant remarks? We can then respond I don’t think they were anything but at worst unwise but if not, so what?

  • Hilda Bastian

    What a wonderful and rich post, Uta. Thank you. Although I have no connection with The Royal Society whatsoever, like many others, I’m encouraged and hopeful about ripple effects from what the Diversity Committee will achieve.

    The bitterness that the firm stance taken by the Society has aroused – well-represented in several of the comments above – is a measure, too, it seems to me, of how far there still is to go. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to visit the exhibit at the Society commemorating 350 years of the Philosophical Transactions. The exhibit highlighted women’s absence, showing that it took nearly 230 years for just 5 papers by women to make it through. I was struck by the story there (1) of one of them, Alice Lee, from UCL.

    That Lee was not able to present her own work directly, that her paper faced additional hurdles to publication than usual, and that her work was about establishing women’s intelligence (and in turn accepted racial stereotypes) (2), are all important reminders of how much there has been (and still is) to overcome. It is not really all that long since our societies had to grapple even with the idea of women attending university and participating in science (3, 4).

    Excluding women from participation in science was also socially acceptable once – and humor disparaging women who wanted an education or who wanted the vote, was socially acceptable too (5, 6). Each step towards diversity – be it gender or other under-represented and discriminated groups – has been accompanied by both struggle, and by many considering concerns to be laughable. Yet, now even sexism from the 1950s (7) and later is widely deplored – although concerns about them were seen as trivial at the time, too.

    Being safe to pursue your work free of harassment, discrimination, ridicule, and the risk of unequal rewards, isn’t trivial, even though these are mountains made of small molehills (8) as well as major matters. It’s exciting that The Royal Society is firmly committed to the path you describe here, Uta. It’s important beyond the Society, too. Thanks for your leadership!

    (1) http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/gallery/2015/feb/12/philosophical-transactions-of-the-royal-society-350-years-of-science-publishing-in-pictures

    (2) http://www.feministvoices.com/alice-lee/

    (3) http://www.jstor.org/stable/986058?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

    (4) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18953782

    (5) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluestocking

    (6) http://theweek.com/articles/461455/12-cruel-antisuffragette-cartoons

    (7) http://www.businesspundit.com/10-most-sexist-print-ads-from-the-1950s/?img=21453

    (8) http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2002/valian-cites-gender-schemas-one-culprit-womens-slower-career-advancement

  • jbrisby

    There are things about this I find highly problematic. For example, Frith says, and I quote: “prejudice is unacceptable even if meant in jest.” Does she really not understand that if it’s ‘meant in jest’, then it isn’t prejudice? That’s sort of what ‘jest’ means, if you think about it.

    And what on Earth am I to make of the existence of a “Diversity Committee” to begin with? Groups like this are all too common in corporate culture; designed to make it appear that a company is ‘doing something’, but in practical terms, the only real work being done is to justify their own jobs. Small wonder that the Chair of the Diversity Committee is uninterested in hearing anything other than the skin-deep spin of this story. When all you have is a hammer….

    And why on Earth is it that the people who are most upset by this story are, without exception, complete mediocrities? Perhaps it has something to do with the tendency for mediocrities to try to build themselves up by tearing down those who have actually achieved something.

    From what I’ve been able to glean from other, less biased, eyewitnesses, Hunt’s joke wasn’t even targeting women. It was a self-deprecating jab at himself, making the point that dinosaurs (his own term was ‘monster’) like him were an all-too-real problem for women in science. In other words, HE’S ON YOUR SIDE! Like creationists who can’t understand basic science, I deeply mistrust social justice warriors who cannot even master basic humor.

    • CharleyFarleyFive

      You are of course correct, however they either don’t, can’t or won’t get it. They’ve got their man, they’ve skilfully steered the faux outrage bus through another victim’s career and regardless of developments in the story will now move on to the next target and feel their work here is done.

      Never mind that a brilliant, well loved man is left with his reputation in tatters. Then again he has obviously committed the sin of being both a man and white, very foolish these days.

  • Philip Moriarty

    Thank you for writing this important, intelligent, and carefully considered piece, Uta. It’s a great shame that the quality of some of the comments in this thread falls rather far below the standard of writing and analysis you set. (I find that when the term “social justice warrior”/SJW appears — and it’s tediously trotted out with brain-numbing regularity in certain online cliques — it’s generally time to stop reading. For commenters who must lapse into that type of vacuous language, the trigger warning here may be helpful.)

    I’m a member of our School’s Diversity Committee and, as you might expect, Hunt’s comments and the response of the Royal Society have been the subject of quite some discussion here at Nottingham. I’m also Undergraduate Admissions Tutor for the School of Physics Astronomy. I’ve drawn the following analogy previously when discussing the Hunt case with colleagues here (and elsewhere). It might be helpful for those baying about “witch hunts” and the like to consider the following scenario…

    Last Friday and Saturday I stood in front of many hundreds of applicants and their parents at our open days to give talks about our admissions process and the teaching and research in our School.

    Did I have the freedom of speech to say something mildly or even exceptionally sexist/homphobic/racist to the students and their parents, even as a “throwaway gag” during my presentations? Did my academic freedom permit me to do this?

    Yes, probably.

    Would it have been an immensely stupid and inappropriate thing to do?

    Yes.

    Would the Head of School be justified in hauling me into his office, reading me the riot act, and telling me that my services as Admissions Tutor were no longer required?

    I’ll leave that as a rhetorical question…

  • Philip Moriarty

    OK, my previous comment seems to have been swallowed up by the Disqus gremlins. I’ll try again…

    Thank you for writing this important, intelligent, and carefully considered piece, Uta. It’s a great shame that the quality of some of the comments in this thread falls rather far below the standard of writing and analysis you set. (I find that when the term “social justice warrior”/SJW appears — and it’s tediously trotted out with brain-numbing regularity in certain online cliques — it’s generally time to stop reading. For commenters who must lapse into that type of vacuous language, the trigger warning here may be helpful.)

    I’m a member of our School’s Diversity Committee and, as you might expect, Hunt’s comments and the response of the Royal Society have been the subject of quite some discussion here at Nottingham. I’m also Undergraduate Admissions Tutor for the School of Physics Astronomy. I’ve drawn the following analogy previously when discussing the Hunt case with colleagues here (and elsewhere). It might be helpful for those baying about “witch hunts” and the like to consider the following scenario…

    Last Friday and Saturday I stood in front of many hundreds of applicants and their parents at our open days to give talks about our admissions process and the teaching and research in our School.

    Did I have the freedom of speech to say something mildly or even exceptionally sexist/homphobic/racist to the students and their parents, even as a “throwaway gag” during my presentations? Did my academic freedom permit me to do this?

    Yes, probably.

    Would it have been an immensely stupid and inappropriate thing to do?

    Yes.

    Would the Head of School be justified in hauling me into his office, reading me the riot act, and telling me that my services as Admissions Tutor were no longer required?

    I’ll leave that as a rhetorical question…

    • Ricky

      Yes, but the difference is that Hunt was forced to resign BEFORE the facts about his sins are established.

    • Brian Hall

      Re: You’re request for my input

      First I should preface my experience. I’m an Engineer, I have been for a bit under a decade and in that decade I’ve worked all around the world, with subordinates and bosses of all kinds of shapes and sizes. I’ve helped to put together the case to remove sexual harassing bosses from roles, which I’m sure you can understand I cannot discuss in depth. I’m now self employed and still work throughout the world, so there’s no boss you can write to about me.

      So maybe I bring a rather different experience from those who in academia have saw this as a very ‘theoretical problem’ which they have magically resolved but to be honest doesn’t appear to be working properly in practice. From what I’m seeing I’m certainly bringing a much higher level of standards and expectation to the table than these institutions have.

      In my view point for the UCL and the Royal Society to have behaved appropriately they must respect their duty of care, they must be proportionate, and they must be fair. None of these things can be done when the information is still developing.

      From what I’ve seen, none of these things have taken place which has caused the “Witch Hunt Train” unleashed “in the name of diversity!’ to roll right back through the front door of the UCL with disastrous consequences for the reputation and perhaps the mental well-being of the institution, its fellows, alumni, faculty and students.

      So I can say, that with that reversal of the train that my expectations aren’t all that far off many, many members of the public who are stakeholders in the problem as they (in part) fund the institution.

      Re: Information

      It’s required that the information is accurate, transparent and complete. Otherwise, you cannot understand the situation and make an appropriate decisions. That should be clear.

      There is currently lots of new information coming to the table and being report by journalists, and I’ll say it: Louise Mensch has really gone to town on it. But hey, that’s what investigative journalists do: they are conviction driven and that’s something we are often missing today.

      e.g. Apparently the original ‘interview’ done by the BBC who got a ‘sorry’ out of Tim Hunt was mis-transcribed regarding ‘meaning to be honest’. The information given by Connie St. Louis was only partial. That has been contradicted by a Russian Journalist, she backs the ‘transcript’ which has now turned up. I’m afraid that yes, I do need to question the strength of character of anyone who lies on their CV.

      But yet before all of this, within hours, we have the UCL apparently phoning Tim Hunts wife, who is also a Professor at the UCL and stating ‘If he doesn’t resign, we’ll sack him’. That’s absolutely incredible.

      Let us also be honest these are pretty big gaps, what was presented in the original was ‘A statement which was sexist which lasted 5-7 minutes’. Now where are we? We have a transcript which shows about 2-3 minutes of impromptu speech where Tim Hunt makes a really quite self-depreciatory “Joke about sexism” which some are still attempting to describe as “A sexist joke”.

      Re: Proportionate

      When we talk about “A sexist joke” that’s a very very odd statement to anyone outside of the “everything is IST” gender bubble. If it is a joke that would promotes discrimination? Not really. In fact I would suggest that most people *do* meet partners in their life and something people cry and some people *do* fall in love in laboratories.

      And even if you view it as having ‘ist’ effects, there’s a positive opposite: *Join a Lab, Fall in Love!* and I think the public understands that very, very well. I also think they understand the difference between a joke about sexism and a sexist joke.

      Anyone outside of this bubble who see all ‘relations’ as negative doesn’t have a proportionate position, they have a partial position.

      They do not recognise that this discussion might actually help women and men who want both to work in a Lab and to have a loving home life to see science as a career they might want to be involved in; rather than viewing science as dry and dispassionate.

      Now, another argument of proportionality, I see that the public understands very well that in liberal civil society, which in the UK we have enjoyed for a long time; freedom of speech *does* extend to things which others might just be offended by.

      Because the limit of speech by the liberal definition is that where either hatred, discrimination or harassment of a group or individuals is advocated is an absolute “No No”.

      You can discuss anything you want beyond that limit including some things that some might just find to be offensive. The answer is: Sorry, though, offense is taken not given.

      Tim Hunt’s joke which was a Joke about sexism did not call for the hatred, discrimination or harassment of women in laboratories. This is absolutely true whether you think it is sexist or not.

      Re: Fairness

      We can see that Tim Hunt made a joke. Some view it as sexist. I would state rather than argue: They are wrong.

      But was the action taken fair? I understand “Diversity Commitees” have a well established reputation for struggling at the definition of fair. So I will state what my definition of fair is: “What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.”

      Well, here’s the latest ‘snippet’ which is being passed around the internet (which as you know is really just the Public House 2.0): https://archive.is/qQm4F

      So in this discussion, we see Jenny Rohn, a UCL professor and David Colquhoun another UCL professor and one who would appear to actually be quite involved in the whole debacle in UCL in his position on the ‘Diversity Commitee’ making and laughing at was a sexist joke, this time directed at Tim Hunt’s wife, who is as I’ve stated and you probably know is also a Professor at the UCL.

      David Colquhoun has stated that because ‘everything is sexist’ its right to point a gun at Tim Hunt’s head and pull the trigger to ‘help women into science’

      Why didn’t he take that gun and fire it at Jenny Rohn?

      Its very clear that making a joke about sexism stating ‘women cry’ is much much less disincentivising to women pursuing careers in science than stating ‘If your husband slips up, we’re going to make sexist jokes about you.’ Isn’t the idea that we should all be helping everyone to participate? Does the suggestion that women who are married can’t participate and be treated with respect suggest otherwise?

      Now why isn’t the UCL hauling this employee out in public to ‘fairly treat them’ as Tim Hunt was treated?

      I can say that he has been treated unfairly Q.E.D.

      Is there legal precedent for this: Yes. Under the Equality Act 2010 – which by the way isn’t just about employment, it has chapters regarding public office there are protected characteristics which apply regardless of what your race. gender, age. If the logic that the UCL wishes to deploy is that there is no need to fire Jenny Rohn, but to be willing to defenestrate Tim Hunt, then there’s a serious legal case to answer.

      I’m of course not suggesting that Jenny Rohn should be fired, I would rather that Tim Hunt is reinstated, but, as above, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander: and that’s what the law states.

      And regarding the other actor we can clearly see that David Colquhoun has some real issues with fairness, and equality based on his publicly stated views: https://archive.is/6fwjD

      I would say he isn’t really fit to be on any kind of diversity committee, because he really doesn’t get it and he has behaved unfairly and abominably throughout.

      Re: Duty of Care

      From what I’ve seen, the people who are unwilling to call for Tim Hunt to be reinstated really don’t understand what Duty of Care is, or how it applies.

      For me its really quite simple, when anyone is involved in anything, we have a duty of care to each other. It extends from road user to road user, it extends from the shopping mall to the shopper, from employee to employee and also from organisations to participants.

      It extends to providing protection for a person who is involved in an activity with your buy in and there is an opportunity cost which you are exposed to due to their failure to provide Duty of Care.

      I myself as an Engineer, when I bring someone in as an employee, whether directly, as a contractor, or even just a speaker go to lengths to ensure there are resources in place to provide them a Duty of Care, security, safety, evacuation, food, water, toilets, public relations, etc. Otherwise, if something goes wrong, they and the government would have every right to throw the book at me.

      By being a fellow of the UCL and UCL pulling the rug from under Tim Hunt, there is an opportunity cost to Tim Hunt. They should have been providing public relations support to minimise the harm. They did not, they have inflamed the situation and therefore under Duty of Care, I would say there’s a real problem at the UCL.

      In Summary,

      What needs to change at the UCL (and the Royal Society who have made the same profound mistakes) to address this.

      I think its pretty root and branch reform you’re going to need; but I would suggest they can start with a pretty front page public apology both to Tim Hunt and to his wife stating this or something close to it as a rationale. Acknowledging that yes, there are ‘diversity issues’ to work on, but that many actions went the liberal society that the greater public believe in and value which all of the universities in the UK are a part of.

      If you don’t I’m afraid from looking at things, I don’t think those diversity committees are going to last more than a decade. The costs of that will be alarming and profound regardless of your views on the topic.

      • Philip Moriarty

        Brian,

        You told me over at my blog that the Royal Society was blocking your comments here (https://muircheart.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/yes-were-all-individuals/#comment-355).

        That now appears not to be the case?

        Anyway, here’s my response to your comment above: https://muircheart.wordpress.com/2015/06/25/yes-were-all-individuals/#comment-358

      • quijoteMike

        I, as you, am an engineer, but now self-employed, and so also free from shackles of corporate imposed responsibilities.
        If I were that eloquent I would have written your piece.
        Had TH said similar in the mega-corp I worked for, in no event would s/he have been upbraided in the 24hrs(?) it took for these institutions to do so publicly. There would have been 2 interviews with relevant parties before any sanction.
        From the outside the actions taken appear ill considered at best and vindictive at worst. Even Ms Frith’s article here appears hasty and, if recent information is correct, requires further explanation.
        Even as an engineer I understand semiotics and context are all.

    • Brian Hall

      I made a fairly large post, but the disqus gremlins at it, so I’ll post it again. Apologies if you see this twice.

      First I should preface my experience. I’m an Engineer, I have been for a bit under a decade and in that decade I’ve worked all around the world, with subordinates and bosses of all kinds of shapes and sizes. I’ve helped to put together the case to remove sexual harassing bosses from roles, which I’m sure you can understand I cannot discuss in depth. I’m now self employed and still work throughout the world, so there’s no boss you can write to about me.

      So maybe I bring a rather different experience from those who in academia have saw this as a very ‘theoretical problem’ which they have magically resolved but to be honest doesn’t appear to be working properly in practice. From what I’m seeing I’m certainly bringing a much higher level of standards and expectation to the table than these institutions have.

      In my view point for the UCL and the Royal Society to have behaved appropriately they must respect their duty of care, they must be proportionate, and they must be fair. None of these things can be done when the information is still developing.

      From what I’ve seen, none of these things have taken place which has caused the “Witch Hunt Train” unleashed “in the name of diversity!’ to roll right back through the front door of the UCL with disastrous consequences for the reputation and perhaps the mental well-being of the institution, its fellows, alumni, faculty and students.

      So I can say, that with that reversal of the train that my expectations aren’t all that far off many, many members of the public who are stakeholders in the problem as they (in part) fund the institution.

      Re: Information

      It’s required that the information is accurate, transparent and complete. Otherwise, you cannot understand the situation and make an appropriate decisions. That should be clear.

      There is currently lots of new information coming to the table and being report by journalists, and I’ll say it: Louise Mensch has really gone to town on it. But hey, that’s what investigative journalists do: they are conviction driven and that’s something we are often missing today.

      e.g. Apparently the original ‘interview’ done by the BBC who got a ‘sorry’ out of Tim Hunt was mis-transcribed regarding ‘meaning to be honest’. The information given by Connie St. Louis was only partial. That has been contradicted by a Russian Journalist, she backs the ‘transcript’ which has now turned up. I’m afraid that yes, I do need to question the strength of character of anyone who lies on their CV.

      But yet before all of this, within hours, we have the UCL apparently phoning Tim Hunts wife, who is also a Professor at the UCL and stating ‘If he doesn’t resign, we’ll sack him’. That’s absolutely incredible.

      Let us also be honest these are pretty big gaps, what was presented in the original was ‘A statement which was sexist which lasted 5-7 minutes’. Now where are we? We have a transcript which shows about 2-3 minutes of impromptu speech where Tim Hunt makes a really quite self-depreciatory “Joke about sexism” which some are still attempting to describe as “A sexist joke”.

      Re: Proportionate

      When we talk about “A sexist joke” that’s a very very odd statement to anyone outside of the “everything is IST” gender bubble. If it is a joke that would promotes discrimination? Not really. In fact I would suggest that most people *do* meet partners in their life and something people cry and some people *do* fall in love in laboratories.

      And even if you view it as having ‘ist’ effects, there’s a positive opposite: *Join a Lab, Fall in Love!* and I think the public understands that very, very well. I also think they understand the difference between a joke about sexism and a sexist joke.

      Anyone outside of this bubble who see all ‘relations’ as negative doesn’t have a proportionate position, they have a partial position.

      They do not recognise that this discussion might actually help women and men who want both to work in a Lab and to have a loving home life to see science as a career they might want to be involved in; rather than viewing science as dry and dispassionate.

      Now, another argument of proportionality, I see that the public understands very well that in liberal civil society, which in the UK we have enjoyed for a long time; freedom of speech *does* extend to things which others might just be offended by.

      Because the limit of speech by the liberal definition is that where either hatred, discrimination or harassment of a group or individuals is advocated is an absolute “No No”.

      You can discuss anything you want beyond that limit including some things that some might just find to be offensive. The answer is: Sorry, though, offense is taken not given.

      Tim Hunt’s joke which was a Joke about sexism did not call for the hatred, discrimination or harassment of women in laboratories. This is absolutely true whether you think it is sexist or not.

      Re: Fairness

      We can see that Tim Hunt made a joke. Some view it as sexist. I would state rather than argue: They are wrong.

      But was the action taken fair? I understand “Diversity Commitees” have a well established reputation for struggling at the definition of fair. So I will state what my definition of fair is: “What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.”

      Well, here’s the latest ‘snippet’ which is being passed around the internet (which as you know is really just the Public House 2.0):https://archive.is/qQm4F

      So in this discussion, we see Jenny Rohn, a UCL professor and David Colquhoun another UCL professor and one who would appear to actually be quite involved in the whole debacle in UCL in his position on the ‘Diversity Commitee’ making and laughing at was a sexist joke, this time directed at Tim Hunt’s wife, who is as I’ve stated and you probably know is also a Professor at the UCL.

      David Colquhoun has stated that because ‘everything is sexist’ its right to point a gun at Tim Hunt’s head and pull the trigger to ‘help women into science’

      Why didn’t he take that gun and fire it at Jenny Rohn?

      Its very clear that making a joke about sexism stating ‘women cry’ is much much less disincentivising to women pursuing careers in science than stating ‘If your husband slips up, we’re going to make sexist jokes about you.’ Isn’t the idea that we should all be helping everyone to participate? Does the suggestion that women who are married can’t participate and be treated with respect suggest otherwise?

      Now why isn’t the UCL hauling this employee out in public to ‘fairly treat them’ as Tim Hunt was treated?

      I can say that he has been treated unfairly Q.E.D.

      Is there legal precedent for this: Yes. Under the Equality Act 2010 – which by the way isn’t just about employment, it has chapters regarding public office there are protected characteristics which apply regardless of what your race. gender, age. If the logic that the UCL wishes to deploy is that there is no need to fire Jenny Rohn, but to be willing to defenestrate Tim Hunt, then there’s a serious legal case to answer.

      I’m of course not suggesting that Jenny Rohn should be fired, I would rather that Tim Hunt is reinstated, but, as above, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander: and that’s what the law states.

      And regarding the other actor we can clearly see that David Colquhoun has some real issues with fairness, and equality based on his publicly stated views: https://archive.is/6fwjD

      I would say he isn’t really fit to be on any kind of diversity committee, because he really doesn’t get it and he has behaved unfairly and abominably throughout.

      Re: Duty of Care

      From what I’ve seen, the people who are unwilling to call for Tim Hunt to be reinstated really don’t understand what Duty of Care is, or how it applies.

      For me its really quite simple, when anyone is involved in anything, we have a duty of care to each other. It extends from road user to road user, it extends from the shopping mall to the shopper, from employee to employee and also from organisations to participants.

      It extends to providing protection for a person who is involved in an activity with your buy in and there is an opportunity cost which you are exposed to due to their failure to provide Duty of Care.

      I myself as an Engineer, when I bring someone in as an employee, whether directly, as a contractor, or even just a speaker go to lengths to ensure there are resources in place to provide them a Duty of Care, security, safety, evacuation, food, water, toilets, public relations, etc. Otherwise, if something goes wrong, they and the government would have every right to throw the book at me.

      By being a fellow of the UCL and UCL pulling the rug from under Tim Hunt, there is an opportunity cost to Tim Hunt. They should have been providing public relations support to minimise the harm. They did not, they have inflamed the situation and therefore under Duty of Care, I would say there’s a real problem at the UCL.

      In Summary,

      What needs to change at the UCL (and the Royal Society who have made the same profound mistakes) to address this.

      I think its pretty root and branch reform thats needed; but I would suggest they can start with a pretty front page public apology both to Tim Hunt and to his wife stating this or something close to it as a rationale. Acknowledging that yes, there are ‘diversity issues’ to work on, but that many actions went the liberal society that the greater public believe in and value which all of the universities in the UK are a part of.

      If they don’t I’m afraid from looking at things, I don’t think these diversity committees are going to last more than a decade. The costs of that will be alarming and profound regardless of your views on the topic.

    • george spiggot

      except that that is not what happened in this case. He made a self deprecating joke about sexism, to highlight the opposite point. A joke about sexism is not the same as a sexist joke. What is amazing here is the contrast between how academic handles things and how industry would. You all deserve to get sued for libel and defamation

      • Philip Moriarty

        Sorry, George, but Disqus is not sending me notifications about new comments/responses so I missed your reply. It’s an awful commenting platform.

        I know full well that a joke about sexism is not the same as a sexist joke.

        Except the issue here is that Tim said on national UK radio that he was “being honest” about “the bit about girls in the lab”.

        Moreover, the self-deprecation, as you put it, was at best extremely subtle and at worst not self-deprecation at all. It was a stupid way to start a talk about women in science, agreed? He then followed it up by saying he was “only being honest”.

        I’ll extend the admissions tutor/open day analogy I describe above. Let’s say I said exactly what Tim said at the start of an open day presentation to potential applicants for our physics courses and their parents. And when asked to clarify what I meant during the Q&A session after the talk I said “I was only being honest”.

        In your opinion, should I retain the role of admissions tutor? Or might there possibly be a more appropriate choice of ambassador for my department?

    • Jane Robertson

      Exactly. He could have said anything constructive and intelligent, he was there to advance the debate and the best he could do was this awful cringeworthy embarrassing old dinosaur sneering at “girls”. We are all fed up of this.

    • Judith Shapiro

      But what about your primary position?

  • George Spiggot

    Oolong,

    The entire subtext of this page is riddled with presumed guilt. “Calling out” is a euphemism for Accusation-in-public, where the guilt of the person being called out is assumed. This is identicle to the tyrannical methdology of the cultural revolution where “denouncements” were made against those considered to be not part of the cultural revolution, they were then humiliated in public and sent on re-education. required to accept the new truths dictated by the prevailing ideological dogma.

    The author advocates such a process, couched in more fluffy language – followed by compulsory re-training.

    If you think this is hyperbole then I would have one question for you all. Following a “calling out” what provision do you make for the accused to mount a defence, reply, show evidence and get a fair hearing? I haven’t seen any of those checks and balances mentioned here or elsewhere by the anti-hunt mob. The chair of this committee clearly has scant regard for them too, hence their absence. That is presumed guilt !

    If only Tim Hunt had had a chance to mount a defence in a fair hearing following some due process ! The cowardly RS really took somebody’s word for it instead !

    • Dan Wheatley

      er, he did /actually say those things/, and then and then admitted he’d said them…

      • george spiggot

        er no. do soe more online research. I know it hard to accept evidence contrary to ones chosen outlook

  • https://cubistcrystal.wordpress.com/ Jenny Martin

    Thanks for a terrific post Uta. Achieving gender equity in the sciences will require rethinking how we as a society measure merit, and perhaps considering demerit in that measurement. For ideas out of the box perhaps look at: https://cubistcrystal.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/merit-and-demerit/.

    I look forward very much to hearing more detail about the activities that the RS Diversity Committee are implementing.

  • Brian Hall

    I have replied in your personal blog, as the author of this blog has issues with showing examples of the naughtiness of the UCL over this issue.

  • Dan Wheatley

    You didn’t read the link, in that case – it was to the letter send from KOFWST to Hunt, and had nothing to do with St Louis, only that there is a copy on her site. It begins:

    “Dear Sir Tim Hunt,
    We, the members of the Korea Federation of Women’s Science and
    Technology Associations (KOFWST), the sponsoring organization of the WCSJ
    luncheon on June 8, 2015, decided to request your official acknowledgement
    and apology for the remarks made at the luncheon. Attached, please find,
    our call for apology. We hope to get your response within 24 hours. Your
    prompt and sincere apology is the least we can ask for any future
    collaboration with Korean scientists.
    Yours sincerely,
    Hee Young Paik, President”

    and the call for apology is attached.

    • Brian Hall

      Instead of twisting, address the point. Don’t be dishonest by changing the topic.

      • Dan Wheatley

        how is that changing the topic? I was addressing your point that there was somehow some lying going on in the statement that was made and I was providing evidence that that was indeed what was said

        • Louise Mensch

          Sorry you have provided no such evidence. There is no reason to suppose Dr. Paik was even at the lunch. Her words are wrong (the ones she attributes to Sir Tim). The English in the apology demand varies wildly from the Korean. I doubt the same person wrote it.

          Lastly; I have some audio and I am working on a story for publication. How fortunate that in slamming UCL as he did, Sir Paul Nurse rescued the Royal Society from the kind of specious nonsense in the post above.

  • Ricky

    Dear Professor Frith FRS, fellow scientists and intellectuals. What about Paul Nurse’s comment then?

    “My cunning plan is they arrive single, fall in love and stay in the
    UK.” The Francis Crick Institute should be more than a centre for
    scientific research. It must double up as a marriage bureau.”

    http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/my-cunning-plan-is-that-scientists-arrive-single-fall-in-love-and-stay-in-the-uk-sir-paul-nurse-on-science-and-romance-9793154.html

    I like his joke but some killjoys may not. Is it possible to make jokes, without ever sounding inappropriate to someone sometimes? Is an apology not enough?

    Come on neurobiologists! Are human beings ever going to stop joking about men and women? What a dull place that would be

  • Kevin Tildsley

    “As the case of Tim Hunt has shown, prejudice is unacceptable even if meant in jest”.

    Surely,
    if it is meant in jest, it isn’t prejudice ? If it is said seriously,
    it is prejudice, if it is said as a joke, it isn’t prejudice. You can’t
    have it both ways, but in deciding to ignore the logical fallacy, and
    make an issue out of something clearly a joke, the Professor here
    demonstrates a prejudice of her own – that is, men should not be allowed
    to make jokes about sexism.

    I suspect if a female scientist had
    made such a joke, the Professor here would be gushing with sympathy. One
    has to go further, and suggest that the Professor seems to be of the
    opinion that women are so frail and weak, they must be protected from
    any nasty man making a joke about sexism, in which case, one has to ask,
    which person here is demonstrating the most sexism ?

  • Louise Mensch

    You have no idea what remarks Sir Tim made. If you actually cared about calling out “unacceptable remarks made by Fellows in public” then David Colquhoun, who is on your committee, would no longer be on it; he called Sir Tim “the Misogynistic Nobel Prize winner” before he had said a single word in public. His continued presence on your committee means none of you have any credibility. This remark is by a Fellow of the Royal Society. It is unacceptable. It is public. So why don’t you call it out?

    https://twitter.com/david_colquhoun/status/608417818145599488

  • Sam juno

    There is another saying, “From Barbarians to Bureaucrats.”