Nobel Scientist Tim Hunt Heavily Criticized For Sexist Remarks

guest author image

Aamna Mohdin

Guest Author

445 Nobel Scientist Tim Hunt Heavily Criticized For Sexist Remarks
Tim Hunt via Wikimedia Commons

Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt told a room full of journalists that the trouble with “girls” in the lab is that “they fall in love with you and when you criticize them, they cry.” Though Hunt told BBC Radio 4 that he was “really sorry” for the offense he caused, he insisted he “did mean" the remarks he made and just wanted to be “honest.”

Hunt was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine for his work on the role of protein molecules in cell division in 2001. He told BBC Radio 4: "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 was speaking at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea when he came out in favor of sex-segregated labs, saying he didn’t want “to stand in the way of women,” the Guardian reports. His comments were first live tweeted by Connie St Louis, and quickly sparked outrage. Louis wasn’t very impressed with Hunt’s apology, telling BBC Radio 4: “It wasn’t funny, what he was saying, at all. What he was saying is that women should be separated from men in the laboratory.”

The Royal Society, who made Hunt a fellow, quickly distanced themselves from him by releasing a statement saying: “Too many talented individuals do not fulfil their scientific potential because of issues such as gender and the Society is committed to helping to put this right.”

Hunt has been heavily criticized by leading members of the scientific community, including Professor Anne Glover, former chief scientific adviser to the European Commission president, who said in a statement: “Tim Hunt seems to have been speaking about his personal problems in relating to women. What he describes is not my experience and I have never had a student (male or female, straight or gay) cry when their research was criticized. Maybe it has something to do with the way you criticize. I hope his attitudes regarding women are largely confined to a former generation.”


  • tag
  • female,

  • male,

  • sexism,

  • tim hunt,

  • sex-segregated labs