It's been just about a year since Tim Hunt's remarks about women scientists at a lunch at a journalists' conference in Seoul and on BBC radio ("I did mean the part about having trouble with girls": 10 June 2015). I chronicled first the media storm that broke out (Tim Hunt Timeline in July), and then the "un-calm" after the storm (September).
Although the issue had stopped being widely-covered and discussed in the general media within a week in the US and within 6 weeks in the UK, the debate over what had happened was still raging. I updated the post on 25 October, but within a few weeks a trio of major posts arrived on Medium.
- Saving Tim Hunt (9 November), by Dan Waddell and Paula Higgins (a 53 minute read, according to Medium).
- Lost in Translation (8 December), by Sue Nelson (30 minute read).
- The Tim Hunt Debacle (15 December), by Louise Mensch (75 minute read).
Mensch had also published another post on her Unfashionista blog on 29 October. In news relevant to later coverage, in February she discussed her move to start Heat Street with Noah Kotch for News Corp. Both Louise Mensch and Dan Waddell have indicated that more writing on the episode is on the way.
Hunt answered questions about the incident and aftermath in 2 recorded interviews:
- Andrew Macfarlane interviewed Hunt in July 2015, and uploaded to YouTube on 5 October (final questions about scientists, family life, and the storm over his remarks begin at 1 hour 31 minutes: just under half an hour).
- Impakták science podcast in Budapest in September 2015, uploaded to iTunes on 21 September. Also here on Soundcloud: click near the end - the discussion starts at 25:25 and last about 5 minutes).
Below I've gathered major media discussions or references to Tim Hunt or the controversy in major English-language media via US Google News, picking up from the September listing. There was a small increase in December, with the controversy's inclusion in some roundups of events in 2015, and coverage of Hunt's plans to live in Japan following Mary Collins' appointment to the position of director of research at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology.
Other than that, coverage has continued to taper off, but not disappear. The amount of coverage reduced - never reaching more than a handful a day - with far less attention going to each item than earlier. Coverage reduced within the pieces themselves as well: it was mostly brief references to the incident in the context of articles about sexism, behavior on the internet, journalism, and/or freedom of speech (on campuses in particular). The division of opinion that characterized coverage from the start, remains.
While the issues raised by the remarks, and the response to the remarks, have consistently been the main topics in the wider community, a lot of the discussion in blogging and other social media circles has been investigating and contesting details of what happened and why.
Although much has been added (and much remains without corroboration), accounts have coalesced around the once heavily-contested issue of what Hunt actually said in Seoul. In July, I had come to the conclusion that Deborah Blum's 16 June report was the most reliable account of the broad content of the remarks (beginning with positive statements about women scientists, then the remarks about "the trouble with girls" and single-sex labs, then encouragement to women scientists again). That those elements were contained in his remarks no longer seems to be contested - although the nuance and intentions remain in dispute. (I've updated the additional listing of eye-witness accounts, too.)
Those debates have been critically important to the people and institutions most closely affected, but they have not attracted the wide intensity of attention as there had been in June. Here again is a chart of the media coverage from my September post. I've signaled 2 events that had an impact on the trajectory of coverage - Mensch's entry into the debate, and the event I believe was the most influential in extending major media interest in the UK: the UCL Council meeting to consider the case, and the lobbying to affect its outcome.
Another angle to get an idea of general community interest in the UK is to look at search results in Google Trends. Here are the results for Tim Hunt (the academic):
Here is the same search set against interest in a more famous British scientist for additional perspective:
This was another case where, as important as it was for the lives of some people and institutions who had to deal with the repercussions of the episode, what followed didn't have anywhere near the same community reach as what happened in the first days. The most frequent messages that are now entrenched in mentions? Remarks like these are social anathema to many, that it (or what poured out afterwards) indicates the problems of sexism in science - and that many are concerned about the price to individuals of public mis-steps. Regardless of what happened to Tim Hunt, the person, "Tim Hunt" also now has a hashtag life - as a byword or poster child on several hot button issues.
6 June 2016
(I also wrote a long blog post, Unsnarling the Complexity of Naming and Shaming. It mentions Tim Hunt as an example.)
Tim Hunt in major online media - an update:
I stopped monitoring media on the controversy around Tim Hunt in August 2015. I've added here pieces in major media from English-speaking countries since 26 October 2015, because they were included in the English language (US) Google News feed (from any country) either about Tim Hunt, or mentioning him in the context of the controversy or women in science or free speech (and including Huffington Post). (I also searched within some outlets, but not systematically.)
26 October: WBUR (radio), Meghna Chakrabarti, mention in: Why there are still so few women in science.
28 October: The Australian, Simon Haines, mention in: Hong Kong universities under pressure from Beijing allies.
29 October: Telegraph, Glen Poole, mention (without name) in: What's so funny about a men's rights debate?
30 October: Guardian, Jonathan Coe, mention in: Is Martin Amis right? Or will Jeremy Corbyn have the last laugh?
11 November: San Francisco Chronicle, Jackie Speier, mention in: End harassment culture in science.
12 November: ABC (radio, Aust), Eleanor Hall, mention in: Women in science: significant gender imbalance remains.
18 November: The Times, Will Humphries, mention in: Cambridge cuts 'racist, sexist' Starkey from funding campaign.
18 November: Daily Mail, Sian Boyle, mention in: Cambridge University axes historian David Starkey from its funding video after students branded him 'sexist and racist'.
19 November: Telegraph, Jemima Lewis, mention in: Our brightest students should be ashamed of their intolerance.
23 November: The Dominion Post (NZ), Nicola Gaston, mention in: Sexism is still one of science's biggest issues.
23 November: Telegraph, Alex Proud, mention in: The Offence Police can get stuffed - we all need to be more insulting.
24 November: Telegraph, Martin Daubney, mention in: George Lawlor's story shows how universities have become hostile to men.
26 November: Daily Mail Online, Katie Hopkins, mention in: KATIE HOPKINS: We used to send young people to university to expand their horizons - now the main objective seems to be to close their minds.
15 December: Evening Standard, uncredited, mention in: Londoner's diary: Could the US embassy's eagle face meltdown?
15 December: Chicago Tribune, Associated Press, mention in: Notable quotes of 2015.
16 December: Fox 61 TV, Associated Press, mention in: Pope's comments on global warming top Yale notable quotes list.
17 December: Nature, Alexandra Witze mention in: Joan Schmelz: a voice for women, in 365 days: Nature's 10.
17 December: Guardian, Ian Sample: Nobel laureate at centre of female scientists row to leave UK for Japan.
17 December: Daily Mail, Daily Mail Comment: A brilliant man lost, in Immigration, secrecy and our right to know.
17 December: Telegraph, Danny Boyle: Sir Tim Hunt 'to leave Britain for Japan' after sexism row.
17 December: Daily Mail, Eleanor Harding, Colin Fernandez, Guy Adams, mention in: PC zealots force Oxford University to rip down plaque honouring 19th century imperialist Cecil Rhodes after students branded him 'racist'.
18 December: The Times, Tom Whipple: Sexism row scientist is moving to Japan.
18 December: Evening Standard, Kiran Randhawa: Sir Tim Hunt to leave UK for Japan after UCL sexism row.
18 December: Gizmodo India, George Dvorsky, mention in: The most notorious science scandals of 2015.
19 December: The Times, Janice Turner: Women need to man up about online trolling.
19 December: The Times, Tom Whipple: Sexism row scientist back working for Royal Society.
19 December: Breitbart, Allum Bokhari: Sir Tim Hunt to leave Britain: how feminists chased away one of Britain's geniuses.
19 December: Mail Online, Sam Tonkin: Sexism row scientist back working for Royal Society just six months after he was forced out for complaining the problem with women in labs was that 'they fall in love with you'.
19 December: Observer & Guardian, Robin McKie: Tim Hunt and Mary Collins: 'We're not being chased out of the country. Our new life's an adventure'.
21 December: Forbes, David Kroll: Professor Mary Collins takes top Japan research post, Royal Society's Sir Tim Hunt to follow.
21 December: Breitbart, Richard Lewis: Sir Tim Hunt didn't leave Britain in defeat after feminist fibs ... he won.
23 December: Guardian, Lottie O'Connor, mention in: Top stories on women in leadership in 2015.
23 December: Guardian, Van Badham, mention in: Twelve months of sexist jerkery - and those who stood up to it.
24 December: Guardian, Tash Reith-Banks, mention in: 2015: the year in science - in pictures.
26 December: Telegraph, Bryony Gordon, mention in: Bryony Gordon: what I haven't learnt in 2015.
27 December: Gizmodo Australia, George Dvorsky, mention in: Most notorious science scandals of 2015.
27 December: Observer, Euan Ferguson, mention in: The Observer quiz of the year 2015.
27 December: Guardian, Guardian Australia staff and iQ Trivia, mention in: Guardian Australia's quiz of the year: world news in 2015.
28 December: Guardian, Zofia Niemtus and Judy Friedberg, mention in: The higher education quiz of 2015.
28 December: San Jose Mercury News, Joan Morris, mention in: Year in review: warriors, Trump and 'Star Wars', of course.
29 December: Guardian, Zofia Niemtus, mention in: Philosophers and #distractinglysexy scientists: top universities of 2015.
30 December: New Statesman, Barbara Speed, mention in: The best and worst of the internet in 2015.
30 December: Newcastle Chronicle, Jonathan Arnott, mention in: How illiberal, how authoritarian, have some people become in their quest to airbrush history?
31 December: Telegraph, Allison Pearson, mention in: Was 2015 as dark as you think it was?
5 January 2016: The Conversation US, Joanna Williams, mention in: Safe space hand wringers are attacking academic freedom - we must fight back.
7 January: Times Higher Education, Stefano Bonino, mention in: Hunting the wrong witch.
7 January: Daily Mail, Daily Mail Comment, mention in: Hate-filled extremists warping young minds.
8 January: The Rebel, Stephen Boucher, mention in: In defence of online anonymity.
11 January: Vanity Fair, Michael Kinsley: How American P.C. culture conquered Britain, too.
17 January: Breitbart, Milo Yiannopoulos: Lying liar Connie St Louis just accused me of calling for an assassination! Follows a BBC TV audience debate show, The Big Questions hosted by Nicky Campbell, asked "Does social media reveal men's hatred of women?" (On YouTube)
20 January: Telegraph, Matthew Scott, mention in: There is no evidence of an establishment conspiracy to protect Lord Janner. But nobody cares.
27 January: Sunday Express, Anne Widdecombe, mention in: Let's control PC whining before it does any more damage, says Anne Widdecombe.
28 January: Guardian, Brian Logan, mention in: The Jon Ronson Mysteries review - stories from the eye of the Twitter storm. Note: on 27 January, Jon Ronson had invited Hunt and Collins to participate in the discussions he was having as part of the paperback release of his book on internet shaming. Here is an interview of Ronson by James O'Brien on 28 January, discussing that Hunt had suicidal thoughts.
28 January: The Conversation US, Zuleyka Zevallos, mention in: How to stop the sexual harassment of women in science: reboot the system.
29 January: The Rebel, Binks Webelf: Feminism: Not entirely wrong?
29 January: Breitbart, Allum Bokhari, mention in: The Gregory Alan Elliott verdict is the Stalingrad of free speech.
31 January: Telegraph, Matthew Stadlen, mention in: Sir Paul Nurse: "I don't think cancer will ever be cured".
2 February: Bustle, Lara Rutherford-Morrison, mention in: 10 comments that prove we still have a long way to go when it comes to equality.
3 February: Popular Mechanics, unnamed, mention in: Cheering on the next generation of women scientists.
9 February: Asian Scientist, Liu Yuchun, mention in: Inspiring minds, fueling passion at the Global Young Scientists Summit 2016.
9 February: Chicago Sun Times, Hedy Weiss, mention in: The British Empire rules again in hilarious 'Explorers Club'.
10 February: allAfrica, Aisling Irwin: View on gender - are single-sex labs the answer after all?
15 February: Guardian, Alice Arnold, mention in: Twitter can be cruel, but Stephen Fry didn't have to leave.
16 February: Nouse, Julia Guy, mention in: More successful women deserve our recognition.
18 February: Montreal Gazette, Montreal Gazette Editorial Board, mention in: Editorial: The shortage of women in science.
19 February: Express & Star, Kirsty Bosley, mention in: Are you a feminazi?
22 February: The Big Issue, Lucy Sweet, mention in: Could the Stargazer Lottie doll inspire a new generation of female scientists?
26 February: Mail Online, Imogen Calderwood, mention in: Anger as competition aimed at getting girls interested in science is won ... by a BOY.
5 March: The Sunday Times, Sian Griffiths: Experiment with emotion. (Interview with Emily Grossman, who had done a TedXUCL talk in December 2015: Why science needs people who cry. As a member of the Reclaim the Internet campaign, there are further interviews with her speaking about the online harassment around Tim Hunt, without directly identifying the episode.)
9 March: The Sun, Cyan Turan: 'I want to see you get raped': meet the women fighting sick trolls online.
14 March: Heat Street, Cathy Young, mention in: Feminism vs fauxminism - campus free speech, bullying, and Tim Hunt.
16 March: Huffpost Women, Ellie Guzman, mention in: On smart, virtuous, good women versus dumb, sexual, bad women.
18 March: Evening Standard, Susannah Butter, mention in: The Brain Prize, winner Timothy Bliss on brain-hacking, Brexit and AI.
5 April: Breitbart, Allum Bokhari, mention in: Tech SJWs in disarray after attempts to silence conference backfire.
7 April: spiked, Tom Slater, mention in: Now it's war on the wiggas.
14 April: spiked, Brendan O'Neill, mention in: Why has the Guardian declared war on Internet freedom?
14 April: Huffington Post UK, Jessie Thompson, mention in: Isabel Hardman was right to call out the 'Totty' MP - the media were wrong to name and shame him.
19 April: Heat Street, Tom Teodorczuk, mention in: Title's wrong for David Furnish and Elton John.
3 May: Telegraph, Celia Warden, mention in: Sorry, Nicky Morgan, but calling out sexism has gone too far.
5 May: Heat Street, Louise Mensch: Connie St Louis, in NEW: the most social-yusticy SJWs part two - meet the all-wahs.
7 May: Star Online, Lyana Khairuddin, mention in: A woman's place is her space.
24 May: Forbes, Luke Timmerman, mention in: Sexism in biotech: it's more widespread than you might think.
28 May: Mail Online, Chris Summers, mention in: Female computer science professor blasts sexist geeks she says show 'staggering' bias against women.
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The cartoon at the head of this post is my own (CC-NC license).
Disclosures: I have a full-time day job. Blogging and cartooning are my hobbies, and income related to those activities is below the threshold applicable to me for conflict of interest. I've been a member of the American science writing community since 2012, include for a time blogging on the Scientific American Blog Network. (I moved to the US in 2011). I'm an occasional contributor to MedPage Today, where Ivan Oransky is global editorial director. I have come to know Deborah Blum in the last few months, in the context of discussing continuing education for journalists (which has been an area of occasional teaching for me for many years). I don't believe I have ever met Tim Hunt, Louise Mensch, or Connie St Louis.
Footnote: In addition to this update, I updated Supplementary File 2 for the Tim Hunt Timeline (eye-witness account summary). I also dealt with the broken links in the Tim Hunt Timeline caused by Louise Mensch's deleted tweets, with an archive Supplement on 6 June.
The thoughts I express here are personal, and do not represent the views of the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (or any organization with which I am associated).