Scientist sorry over girls comment

Published: Wednesday 10th June 2015 by The News Editor

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A Nobel laureate has apologised for any offence caused by comments about the “trouble with girls” involved in science.

Sir Tim Hunt, who was awarded the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine in 2001, insisted his comments had been intended as a joke.

He reportedly told the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea : “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.”

The Royal Society distanced itself from Sir Tim’s comments, which had sparked a backlash online.

Sir Tim told the BBC his comments were meant to be humorous, but added: “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.

“I found that these emotional entanglements made life very difficult.

“I’m really, really sorry I caused any offence, that’s awful. I certainly didn’t mean that. I just meant to be honest, actually.”

Sir Tim became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1991. Ten years later he was awarded the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine alongside Lee Hartwell and Paul Nurse for their discoveries of “key regulators of the cell cycle”.

The Royal Society said Sir Tim’s comments did not reflect its views.

In a statement on its website, it said: “The Royal Society believes that in order to achieve everything that it can, science needs to make the best use of the research capabilities of the entire population.

“Too many talented individuals do not fulfil their scientific potential because of issues such as gender and the society is committed to helping to put this right.

“Sir Tim Hunt was speaking as an individual and his reported comments in no way reflect the views of the Royal Society.”

Published: Wednesday 10th June 2015 by The News Editor

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