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Johnson backs 'girls' row scientist

Published 15/06/2015

Sir Tim Hunt resigned from the Royal Society and University College London after his remarks sparked a backlash online
Sir Tim Hunt resigned from the Royal Society and University College London after his remarks sparked a backlash online

Boris Johnson has called for the Nobel laureate who resigned from two scientific organisations after making controversial comments about women to be reinstated.

The mayor of London said Sir Tim Hunt did not deserve to be "pilloried" for speaking about the "trouble with girls" at a conference in South Korea last week.

Sir Tim resigned from the Royal Society and University College London after his remarks sparked a backlash online.

The scientist said he had been "hung out to dry" over comments he insisted were meant to be humorous and for which he later apologised.

Mr Johnson said the comments were made during a "light-hearted, off-the-cuff speech".

Writing in the Daily Telegraph he said: "Sir Tim Hunt was doing what he had done all his life - pointing out a natural phenomenon he had observed. He did not deserve to be pilloried, and should be reinstated forthwith to his academic positions."

Sir Tim reportedly described himself as a ''chauvinist pig'' at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul and argued in favour of single-sex laboratories.

He said: "Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry."

Mr Johnson said it is a scientific fact that women cry more readily than men, citing the work of Professer Ad Vingerhoets of Tilburg University, and maintained that it should not be an offence to point out a "gender difference".

The Conservative politician likened the reaction to Sir Tim's comments to what he described as "mumbo jumbo" claims by a Malaysian minister that the actions of tourists, including Briton Eleanor Hawkins, who stripped on a mountain considered to be sacred had caused an earthquake.

Mr Johnson wrote: "I am afraid that we in 21st-century Britain are in no position to snigger at the tribes and their fit of irrational indignation. We have our own mystery gods these days."

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