#distractinglysexy takes off on Twitter after Sir Tim Hunt's comments
Of women in labs, Tim Hunt said: "They fall in love with you and when you criticize them, they cry"
It’s safe to say few tears have been shed by women in science over the resignation of Nobel-winning scientist Sir Tim Hunt after his now infamous comments regarding his experience of “girls” in laboratories.
“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,” Hunt said, prompting outcry, then condemnation and now mirth.
On Twitter, the “girls” of science are doing their best to prove how #distractinglysexy they are, by posting pictures of themselves at work.
Some are even seen posing with poop. Anne Hilborn tweets: “I was so #distractinglysexy when collecting cheetah crap that even I lost track of what I was doing and dropped some.”
And cows. “Here I am shoulder-deep in cow rectum, so seductive!” tweets Vanessa Adams.
Alongside photos of herself wearing protective gear and heavy boots, Twitter user @xLiserx laments, “Guess I can’t save the lives of my geological counterparts - I’m too #distractinglysexy to the team. As if!”
Charlene Blomquist, who describes herself as a science nerd, said she had posted the only photo she had of herself “where my mascara isn’t running from all the crying.”
University College of London announced Hunt’s resignation on Wednesday, with a brief statement saying: “UCL can confirm that Sir Tim Hunt FRS has today resigned from his position as Honorary Professor with the UCL Faculty of Life Sciences, following comments he made about women in science at the World Conference of Science Journalists on 9 June.”
“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.”
Steve Diggle, a microbiologist from the University of Nottingham stepped in with a ready-made sign to address Hunt’s concerns about coed labs.
“Caution: Mixed Gender Lab! No falling in love or crying permitted”
After the initial outcry, Hunt apologized in an interview with the BBC for any offense his comments had caused, but said that he stood by them.
“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,” he said. “I found that these emotional entanglements made life very difficult.
“I’m really, really sorry I caused any offense, that’s awful. I certainly didn’t mean that. I just meant to be honest, actually,” he added.
Some came to Hunt’s defense, questioning whether his resignation amounted to a curb on free speech.
“Seems London’s Professors are not allowed free speech at UCL as #TimHunt resigns. It’s all @uclnews to me,” tweeted Barbara Cookson, a European patent lawyer and IP expert.
Hunt was part of the team that won the Nobel Prize in physiology in 2001 for the discovery of key regulators of the cell cycle.
Monica Sarkar and Georgia McCafferty contributed to this report.