Thursday, June 11, 2015

Double standards?

I'm feeling slightly shocked that Nobel laureate Tim Hunt of UCL has been forced to resign from his position in the faculty of life sciences over some remarks he made about Women and men at a recent conference. He said that when women work together with men in the lab they fall in love and cry when criticised (implying this was an impediment to productive working), factually correct albeit a generalisation fallacy, but seriously, why such a shocker?

Now, he did say this to a conference about Women in science so certainly not sensitive, tactful or clever; but let's face it we all know geeky people like this who are socially awkward when addressing members of the opposite sex. Public speaking, empathy and emotional intelligence is usually NOT their forte! But, think about it this way, who would you rather have working on a cure for cancer at UCL, Tim Hunt or Russell Brand?

Now, clearly Prof. Hunt has screwed up, he's made what's known in the trade as a "gaff" and his geeky, socially retarded manner seems to have caused him to dig the hole even deeper as he tried to apologise, but in the big picture of the oppression of Women in the world, so what? Give the guy a reprimand and ban him from attending conferences for six months or make him attend a communications skills course; such a minor infraction does not warrant being hounded out of his job. This over-reaction is especially pulled into focus when you consider how other people in public roles can seem to get away with sexist or racists remarks pretty much unnoticed. If he was a Muslim Imam, for example, who proclaimed from his pulpit that Women and men should be segregated because his sky God disapproved then no one would have blinked an eye; in fact people would probably be screaming Islamophobia at this point and rushing to defend his precious "beliefs". Even UCL itself is no stranger to segregation rows, only last year there was a scandal when the Islamic Students Society hosted a debate and ordered that men and women in the audience should sit separately! Jeremy Bentham will be turning in his grave (or at least shuffling slighting in his chair)!

What a hypocritical world we live in.

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