The University College London will not be reinstating Sir Tim Hunt, after his sexist remarks left the scientific world shaking. His remarks, which included the notion that female scientists “fall in love” with male scientists, and “cry” when criticized solidified a view of individuals like Hunt, which has stood for years. His views are incomprehensible, given how much of an impact women have had in the scientific world.
UCL released a statement which read in part, “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.” At this point, while some of Hunt’s colleagues have backed him on his professional experience, few have been willing to openly admit any alliance with the scientist gone rogue.
The Nobel Peace prize winner argued that his comments were “light-hearted” and that they were significantly taken out of context, but the context of what he said left its own sting in the hearts of those who have worked hard to eliminate sexist words like this from our modern world.
The school went on to point out that even if his remarks were taken out of context that they wholeheartedly “contradict the basic values of UCL.” Right now, this is where that debate stands. It is entirely unclear where he will be going moving forward – but what is clear is that he will be delivering something that hasn’t recently been seen.
His fall from grace is particularly interesting because it will prove as a great case study for someone who has completely fallen from the top of the scientific world, and has to rebuild and rebrand himself based on social issues, or his views. This is the last thing Hunt himself, would have expected to see at this juncture of his career, but ultimately, this is proof of the day we live in, and the climate that exists.
The type of words he used will not be tolerated at any time, in any setting – when a role like his is had. His opinion, his view, and his energy carries weight, and it’s important to understand that there is something to be learned here. For UCL it’s that moving on from Hunt is important to maintain their own identity. For Tim Hunt, it’s time for him to reconcile the person he has clearly become, and work toward a better change.
It’s unclear at this point where he plans to go next, or if his career in this regard is over. At least as a professor, like he was with UCL.