Saturday, July 11, 2015

Links: Tim Hunt Edition

  1. Maki Naro in Popular Science: The trouble with Nobel Prizes -- They're not magic medals of blamelessness.

    So don't write to me saying I don't care about science because a poor guy tarnished his own gold star by making a bad, sexist joke and got called out on it. Instead, ask yourself how much you care about science that you've allowed the past to supersede the future. Take a long look at the choices that led you to put science before people. Instead of blindly defending an old man with a medal, try to listen and reflect upon yourself and the society that led you to defend him in the first place. Then GTFO.

  2. Alice Bell at Open Democracy: After Tim Hunt: Another Science is Possible. "After the widespread reaction to Tim Hunt’s comments on women in science, it’s time to unpick the various hierarchies that stifle scientific debates and practice."

  3. Janet Stemwedel at the Forbes Science Blog: What if Tim Hunt had done it differently:

    So, let’s rewind the universe to a point in time before Tim Hunt’s trajectory intersected with the controversy. You might think the crucial moment at which to consider “what if” is when Hunt was asked to make some remarks to the luncheon. But let’s go back more than a year earlier, to spring of 2014, when Tim Hunt was interviewed for Lab Times. Here’s part of that published exchange:

    In your opinion, why are women still under-represented in senior positions in academia and funding bodies?

    Hunt: I’m not sure there is really a problem, actually. People just look at the statistics. I dare, myself, think there is any discrimination, either for or against men or women. I think people are really good at selecting good scientists but I must admit the inequalities in the outcomes, especially at the higher end, are quite staggering. And I have no idea what the reasons are. One should start asking why women being under-represented in senior positions is such a big problem. Is this actually a bad thing? It is not immediately obvious for me… is this bad for women? Or bad for science? Or bad for society? I don’t know, it clearly upsets people a lot.

    What if, after the interview, Tim Hunt had done some thinking about the underrepresentation of women in science, especially in senior positions? What if he had sought out some of the people clearly upset by the inequalities in outcomes and listened to them in order better to understand that upset? What if he had looked at the research on the various factors that still present barriers to entry and inclusion for women (among others) in science?

    If he had done that, then by June of 2015, asked to speak at the luncheon, he might have had a somewhat better understanding of the women scientists in his audience.