One of Britain’s top scientists has supported the condemnation of Tim Hunt, who quit his job in the wake of controversial comments he made about women working in laboratories.
Paul Nurse, who was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine with Mr Hunt in 2001, told the Daily Telegraph that his partner’s statement was “stupid”.
Mr Hunt provoked a backlash on social media after he reportedly said the ”trouble with girls” in laboratories was that ”you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry”.
He subsequently apologised for the comments – made at a conference in South Korea – saying they had been intended to be jocular and ironic, but said that he was told that if he did not resign his position at University College London he would be sacked.
A number of high-profile figures have come out in support of Hunt.
London mayor Boris Johnson called for his reinstatement, and television physicist Professor Brian Cox said the remarks had been ”very ill-advised” but that the response – which also saw him give up a position at the Royal Society - had been ”disproportionate”.
But Mr Nurse told the Telegraph: “Tim is a lovely man and I have known him for a long time.
“But there is no question about it, he did say some stupid things which cannot be supported and they have to be condemned.
“He said he was a chauvinist and that is not acceptable.”
Mr Nurse, who is president of the Royal Society, added: ``I don't hold with people who say it has shone a light on the issue.
“It would have been better if it hadn’t happened. It hasn’t been good for science or the Royal Society.”