And yet he met his wife there
Witless UCL Professor Sir Tim Hunt was forced to resign last night after jokingly claiming men and women could not work together in the lab.
The 72-year-old was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2001 for his work on how cells divide, but his intelligence escaped him when he branded himself a “chauvinist” and made some cack-handed comments about working with women.
Blundering through a conference in South Korea, he said: “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.”
His words sparked outrage with the scientific community, as Oxford Neuropsychology Prof Dorothy Bishop said: “The comments get at the heart of bias against women in science: the notion that we can’t be serious contenders because we are too emotional, and, even worse, we distract the men from their science by our sexual allure.”
Last night, UCL announced Sir Tim had resigned, adding: “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.”
Sir Tim’s wife, UCL Immunology Professor Mary Collins insisted he had made “a light-hearted and ironic comment” which had been “interpreted deadly seriously”.
Meanwhile, Sir Tim told the BBC he was just “being honest”.
Speaking on Radio 4, he said: “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.”
Sir Tim was referring to his own experience as he met his wife in the lab, directing her Biochemistry studies at Cambridge.
He has stood by his comments, adding: “I did mean the part about having trouble with girls.
“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.”