UCL: ‘Hunt will not be reinstated’

Sir Tim Hunt

Sir Tim said he had been “hung out to dry”

The president of University College London has said that Prof Sir Tim Hunt will not be reinstated.

Prof Michael Arthur said that he “regretted” the personal difficulty suffered by Sir Tim, who has been accused of sexism.

But he said his comments about women in laboratories had struck “such a discordant note”.

He said they were at odds with the university’s aim to create a working environment where women felt supported.

Prof Arthur added in a statement in the staff news section of the UCL website that Sir Tim’s offer of resignation was his personal choice and the honourable thing to do.

He said that despite many calls for him to reinstate Sir Tim, there had been “very significant” representations to him not to do so – and not only from women in science.

“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.

The Nobel prize-winning scientist resigned from his honorary post at UCL earlier this month following the reaction to comments he made at a science journalism conference in South Korea.

He said at a lunch that women in labs “cry” when criticised and “fall in love” with male counterparts.

His resignation prompted many messages of support for Sir Tim from scientists, including many Nobel prize winners calling for his reinstatement. His supporters said that his comments were meant as a self deprecating satirical joke and were taken out of context.

The evolutionary biologist and author, Prof Richard Dawkins, described criticism of Sir Tim as a “witch-hunt”

But Prof Arthur said in his statement that “an honorary appointment is meant to bring honour both to the person and to the university”.

“Sir Tim has apologised for his remarks, and in no way do they diminish his reputation 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.”

Follow Pallab on Twitter

What Next?

Recent Articles

Leave a Reply

You must be Logged in to post comment.