Tim Hunt, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for his work in cell biology, was forced to resign last week for his comments about women in the field of science, but some of his female colleagues have stood up to support the biologist.
Hunt was told by University College London that he should resign, and was offered no opportunity to defend his comments, made at the Women in Science lunch at the world conference of science journalists in Seoul.
“I was hung out to dry. They haven’t even bothered to ask for my side of the affairs,” said Hunt in an interview with the Observer.
Several female colleagues of Hunt’s came forward to defend him, including physicist Dame Athene Donald, biologist Professor Ottoline Leyser, and physiologist Dame Nancy Rothwell. All three, spoke highly about his past support for scientists of both genders.
“Many will testify to Tim’s great support and encouragement for younger scientists, both male and female. Indeed, he has trained and mentored some outstanding female scientists,” said Rothwell.
Since his comments in Seoul, which implied women were more emotionally insecure than and not as focused on their work as men, Hunt has suffered expulsions and forced resignations from other positions in the scientific world, including one on the European Research Council’s science strategy and another on the Royal Society committee.
“I have become toxic. I am finished,” Hunt told the Observer.