The trouble with girls... | Portsmouth High School

The trouble with girls…

Last week the Nobel laureate Tim Hunt caused a bit of a storm by saying “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”.

He later claimed that his remarks made remarkably to a group of female scientists were meant to be amusing. Apparently women had a problem seeing the joke. Actually I think he had the problem. For such an eminent scientist what did he think his comment would do for the advancement of women in science? This is not the Victorian times when some men genuinely believed that women were not capable of rational scientific thought. At PHS we get so used to girls studying science that we may be forgiven for believing such chauvinism in the world is long dead and at least at our school the girls who pursue a science related career leave strong enough not to be brow beaten into thinking otherwise by some old fashioned man who lives in a different era. They also might be able to resist his advances and surely would be savvy enough to find his views unattractive despite what he may think.

Hunt said sorry of course or rather he apologised for causing offence which isn’t quite the same. This was a discussion I had with year 5 when I taught them this week and our lively debate centred around “is saying sorry when you don’t mean it acceptable?”

Tim Hunt’s claim that girls cry a lot (or at least more than men) was supported by the likes of Boris Johnson who said it had been proven through research that women are more emotional than men. Tim according to Boris was only pointing out a natural phenomenon. Whilst it may be true that women who by nature are nurture carers are likely to show emotion more than men I disagree most strongly that they do it when criticised. There is no evidence to support that at all. Maybe Tim’s criticism of his science lab girls wasn’t constructive but more chauvinistic and women in his lab cried tears of sheer frustration at his sexist attitude.

Furthermore I do not understand why he ever thought it acceptable to voice his opinion in public, loudly and in front of lots of women. He may be a great scientist but he displays an extraordinary level of arrogance and ignorance.