Brandy Zadrozny Wags Her Finger At “Sexist” Scientists

So the Daily Beast published this wonderful piece complaining about a man’s opinion and his failure to show the proper reverence for the superior sex (read: Women).

Lady scientists: they’re always falling in love and crying about it. Amiright?

Let’s start with the most important thing: Tim Hunt has fantastic nose hairs. Typically, nose hairs are the sign of a disgusting, ill-kept, troglodyte. But Tim Hunt’s nosehairs are like two gray middle fingers, defiantly presented to the world, clear signs that he gives not a single fuck about your feelings without having to be so crass as to articulate how little of a fuck he gives. And you are absolutely right, Brandy. Women are steadily in their feelings about love, or some other woman being mean to her, or something she read, or saw on TV. The end result? Crying.

So says important man of science, knighted and Nobel Prize winning biologist Sir Tim Hunt, at a luncheon for science journalists hosted by Korean women scientists.

In remarks yesterday before writers, scientists, and engineers attending the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, Hunt stood and after thanking the women journalists “for making lunch,” and warning attendees that he had a reputation as a male chauvinist, offered up his groundbreaking ideas on women in the field.

“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls,” Hunt said, according to science journalist Connie St Louis, who tweeted the most disgusting points in his unrecorded speech. “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.” He continued that while he was in favor of single sex laboratories, he didn’t want to “stand in the way” of women.

Brandy is correct here. Dr. Hunt had no business thanking these women for making lunch, probably because none of them can actually make an edible meal, not even with the power of SCIENCE! Hunt was even nice enough to give the future concubines of Kim Il Jung a trigger-warning before explaining his personal experiences with women in the lab in a joking fashion. Crazy stuff, regarding women as anything less than the closest thing to God on Earth. The gall.

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.”

Deborah proceeded to bawl her eyes out after tweeting, and curled up with some Haagen-Daaz and NetFlix.

“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.”

It’s a bit of a slap in the face coming from such an esteemed scientist, not to mention father of two daughters and husband of Mary Collins, an accomplished female professor at University College London who has managed to run a major department as well as a lab investigating gene therapy approaches for cancer and infectious diseases. At the same time, thinking like Hunt’s seems almost unavoidable in science.

Just last week, Alice S. Huang, a senior faculty associate in biology at California Institute of Technology and former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, wrote in an advice column for Science that a female postdoc scientist should “put up with” her adviser’s constant quest to peer down her shirt while working in the lab, “with good humor if you can.”

Question(s) from the peanut gallery: What does Tim Hunt’s being a Nobel Prize winner and general big brain have to do with a personal observation about relationships between men and women in the confines of the lab? What does his relationship with his wife and daughters have to do with his opinion of women he doesn’t have a personal relationship with? The answer is absolutely nothing. But people like Brandy think that men should regard strangers with the same affection or even tolerance one has for their own relations.

Then we learned of Fiona Ingleby, the female evolutionary genetics researcher from the University of Sussex who after submitting her work to a journal for consideration, was smacked with a peer review that boiled down to: “get a man.” The reviewer suggested having someone with a Y chromosome sign on as an author would protect her work from bias, the implication being that men are able to be objective—the most prized quality for scientists—while women are not.

These examples are not outliers. They are the norm and exist within a field dominated by men of which the overwhelming body of evidence suggests has a bias against the women who dare enter the profession.

In Ingleby’s case, aside from the interpretation that she “get a man” to help with her review, what the reviewer actually wrote that the paper “has fundamental flaws and weaknesses that cannot be adequately addressed by mere revision of the manuscript, however extensive.” The fact that Ingleby chose to interpret it as “get a man” is a personal problem. Brandy, follows up with showing her Progressive bona fides the way a bonobo shows its ass: a handful of incidents, taken out of context, to infer guilt to an entire field or group. The correct answer is that some people are just assholes. I know it’s shocking at first, but with enough therapy and trust exercises, you’ll learn how to live again.

An email to Hunt requesting comment was not returned, but the Nobel laureate has spoken before concerning his attitudes toward women in science. In an interview last year with Lab Times, Hunt was asked why women were still under-represented in senior positions in academia. His answer was revealing.

“I’m not sure there is really a problem, actually,” he said. “People just look at the statistics. I dare, myself, think there is any discrimination, either for or against men or women. I think people are really good at selecting good scientists but I must admit the inequalities in the outcomes, especially at the higher end, are quite staggering. And I have no idea what the reasons are. One should start asking why women being under-represented in senior positions is such a big problem. Is this actually a bad thing? It is not immediately obvious for me… is this bad for women? Or bad for science? Or bad for society? I don’t know, it clearly upsets people a lot.”

Of course, women should be represented in SENIOR positions in academia. Heaven forfend that women be sufficiently represented among the grunts and hoi polloi of the lab. If Disney has taught Brandy and the women like her anything it’s this: If you aren’t the princess (of SCIENCE!), it doesn’t count. Women are also under-represented among the homeless, mineworkers, lumberjacks, fishermen, and murder victims, but one battle at a time, I suppose.

 

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