• 06.12.15

Boneheaded Nobel-Winner Inspires #DistractinglySexy Twitter Campaign

After experimenting with misogynist remarks this week, Nobel-winner Tim Hunt has incurred the wrath of female scientists on Twitter.

In 2001, English biochemist Sir Tim Hunt won a Nobel Prize for his distinguished work in the field of physiology and medicine. This week, however, the scientist took home an Oh, Hell No prize for his contribution to casual misogyny and colossal failure to read the room.


Speaking before an assembly of scientists and journalists at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea, hosted by female scientists, Hunt said perhaps the most wrong thing one could possibly say at a scientists’ conference hosted by female scientists. “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls,” he began, thus digging the first shovelful of his own grave. “Three things happen when they are in the lab… You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry.” Oof! It’s as though he read Megan Amram’s satirical textbook Science… For Her, saw his whole worldview validated, and felt emboldened to preach to the choir. Of course, this did not play out well on social media, where women scientists around the world excoriated Hunt with class and, one assumes, no small measure of relish.

Since the Nobel-winner spoke out on June 9th, the #distractinglysexy hashtag on Twitter has played host to a photographic outpouring of women doing what they do best—stoically attempting to go about their lives in the face of great adversity. The images feature female scientists geared-up in labs or out in the field, with playfully sarcastic captions like, “Filter mask protects me from hazardous chemicals and muffles my woman-cries.” It’s a not-so-gentle reminder that Hunt’s personal experience may not in fact hold any bearing on what actually goes on in laboratories elsewhere in the world. (He has since resigned as honorary professor at University College London.)

Have a look through more #DistractinglySexy images in the slides above.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.