Admittedly, I have no idea what the state of gender discrimination law is in the UK. It also appears that scientist Tim Hunt doesn’t seem to have an active lab at this point. But if he were an active U.S. researcher and if his Ph.D. and post-doctoral trainees were heavily biased towards men (I haven’t been able to determine the gender of his former trainees), then, under U.S. law, his comments could be grounds for a Title IX discrimination investigation.
And just to be clear: he did openly call for ‘separate but equal’ laboratories.
I hope this is satire gone horribly wrong, but his comments to journalist Deborah Blum* suggest not.
If he doesn’t have a pattern of hiring discrimination, then he’s just an idiot. Verily, there are assholes and they walk among us. But if there was a pattern of hiring discrimination, then this is a truly bad thing–the comments are merely an indication of a more serious problem.
Even if you’re not an asshole, most everyone will end up saying stupid shit at some point, but if said stupid shit is backed by actions, then there’s a problem. In the U.S. context (again, I realize Hunt is British), if there were a pattern of hiring discrimination, he very well could have misused federal funds.
Potentially not a trivial thing at all. Nor would it be ‘radical feminism’ run amok, but basic civil rights established in 1972.
Just some context.
Maybe lady scientists just can’t take a joke? Not so, tweeted prominent science writer Deborah Blum, who wrote that Hunt doubled down when she asked him about his comments. “I was hoping he’d say it had been a joke. But he just elaborated. Sigh.” Blum tweeted. “He did tell me that he thought I might hold up okay because I didn’t seem the crying kind.”