Jonathan Dimbleby has taken a stand for Sir Tim Hunt and resigned from his honorary fellowship at University College London. He felt that the treatment received by Hunt from the University was unfair.
Sir Tim Hunt, who is a Nobel Prize winner, had been asked to resign after he made controversial remarks about women in science at a press conference in South Korea.
Dimbleby, who is a broadcaster and a writer, accused the college of a ‘disgraceful’ rush to judgment in forcing the scientist to quit his fellowship at UCL.
“The college has a long and honorable tradition of defending free speech, however objectionable it may be. Sir Tim made a very poor joke and it quite rightly backfired. He then apologized for that,” Dimbleby told the Times.
Sir Tim Hunt, who is 72, 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.” But he continued his speech with ‘now seriously’ and went on to praise female scientists.
“This is not an offence that should be enough to ensure that a distinguished scientist should be told to resign his position.” Dimbleby said.
Dimbleby has urged others also to follow suit so that UCL can revoke its decision.
Meanwhile Hunt has apologized and said he made an ‘idiotic joke’ but also insisted that his remarks were taken in poor taste and he had the support of hundreds of female scientists.
Dimbleby feels that it was blown out of proportion on the account of inappropriate reporting by the social media.
“The idea that serious grown-up women thinking of pursuing a science career, and thinking of going to UCL to do so, would be put off by an elderly professor saying something silly then apologizing for it seems bizarre.”
Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, and scientist Richard Dawkins also feel as that Hunts remarks were blown out of proportion.
Despite all these statements, Professor Michael Arthur, president of University College London, said an honorary appointment, given to Sir Tim, is meant to bring honor, both to the university and to the person. He added that he felt that although Hunt has apologized for his remarks, 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.”