The Tim Hunt affair refuses to die down. A letter in the Times today (£) from Hyunsook Lee, Professor of Biological Sciences at Seoul National University:
Sir, I am a Korean female scientist, and as this unhappy event happened in Seoul I feel I should say something. I must admit that I was totally shocked when I read the report in your newspaper. It did not sound like Tim at all. I have known him for more than 15 years, ever since he examined my thesis for my PhD. During all those years, he couldn’t have been more supportive.
The thing I like about Tim is that he never treated me as a “female scientist” but as a “scientist”. In the scientific community, and in the world in which we live, you sometimes feel that you are being treated as a “female”. I never had this uneasy feeling from Tim.
I learnt a great deal from him and from his attitude to science. He will continue to be my mentor.
The only way I can make sense of this whole business is to assume that Hunt gave two speeches in Seoul. At the first he started out with some light-hearted banter about female scientists, before getting down to the main part of the speech. No one particularly minded, though doubtless few if any of the attendees were shaking with laughter. The second time, he ill-advisedly decided to set out his reasons for believing that male and female scientists should work separately - and that female scientists were all a bit silly - before a few visiting feminists.
Well, either that, or we're seeing the same old business that we've seen in other contexts recently, where certain people are all primed up to take offence.