Sexism in Science Is Alive and Kicking

Professor Tim Hunt, a knighted and Nobel Prize-winning biochemist, resigned from his position at University College London after making inappropriate, sexist comments about women scientists at a conference in Seoul, South Korea. All of his 72 years and the coveted award have not broadened his views about women scientists. His apology broadcast by BBC Radio’s Today program, that he was “honest” with his remarks, but was “stupid” to make them “in the presence of all those journalists” says it all.

It is unfortunate that such opinions still exist and are expressed in public by white men who are the accepted standard for every determination, analysis, and conclusion. There is no place for such behavior in today’s society. But whom are we kidding? From time immemorial, women in science have been treated as subservient to the men. From Rosalind Franklin, who contributed to our understanding of the molecular structure of DNA, but got little to no recognition from her male colleagues, who then went on to win the Nobel award, to Lawrence Summers, President Emeritus of Harvard University, who stated at an academic conference in 2005 that underrepresentation of women in science and engineering could be due to a “different availability of aptitude at the high end,” sexism in science is rampant. Summers ultimately resigned his position, avoiding an imminent no-confidence vote by the faculty, but he remains a professor at the university. As a woman scientist, it is difficult to accept this bias, let alone grow immune to it, because there are no gender differences in intelligence.

Disparities in the number of women chairpersons and tenured women faculty in universities and the existence of archaic, non-faculty academic titles tailor-made for female scientists, are part of the attempt to keep women from attaining equality with their male counterparts. Women’s perceived —> Read More