Sir Tim Hunt had sparked controversy after making a joke at a press conference in South Korea. He was forced to resign soon after due to the ‘sexist’ comments.
Professor Michael Arthur, president of University College London, stated that Sir Tim Hunt was right to give in his resignation as his comments had struck such a discordant note with the women.
Sir Tim Hunt, who is a Nobel Prize winner, had said at the conference: “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 criticize them they cry.”
Professor Arthur said that although he regretted the personal difficulty that Hunt is going through but gender equality is above that.
The University’s aim to create a working environment where women feel supported, Professor Arthur felt that such comments were at odds with that aim.
Arthur, in a statement in the staff news section of the UCL website, said that Hunt’s offer of resignation was his personal choice and the honourable thing to do.
He admitted hat he has been getting many calls to reinstate Hunt but he strongly feel that the decision was a correct one.
“Our view is that reversing that decision would send entirely the wrong signal and I have reason to believe that Sir Tim would also not want that to happen,” he said.
Many professors, Nobel Prize winners and scientists have supported Hunt, calling for his reinstatement.
The evolutionary biologist and author, Professor Richard Dawkins, described criticism of Hunt as a “witch-hunt”.
Sir Andre Geim, of the University of Manchester, who shared the Nobel Prize for physics in 2010, told The Times that Hunt had been “crucified” by ideological fanatics. He also slammed UCL for “ousting him” from his post.
Avram Hershko, an Israeli scientist who won the 2004 Nobel Prize in chemistry, told the paper: “Maybe he wanted to be funny and was jet lagged, but then the criticism in the social media and in the press was very much out of proportion. So was his prompt dismissal — or resignation — from his post at UCL . . . I think that he was very unfairly treated.”
Despite all these statements , Arthur said an honorary appointment, given to Sir Tim, is meant to bring honur, both to the university and to the person.
He added that he felt that Hunt has apologized for his remarks and they in way diminish his work as a scientist.
“However, they do contradict the basic values of UCL – even if meant to be taken lightly – and because of that I believe we were right to accept his resignation.
“Our commitment to gender equality and our support for women in science was and is the ultimate concern.”