Tim Hunt, an English biochemist, won the 2001 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for discovering the protein molecules that control the division of cells. The self-admitted "chauvinist" seems to have found the protein molecules responsible for making oneself a trending Twitter hashtag.
The Nobel laureate, while speaking to the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea, advocated single-sex labs. "Let me tell you about my trouble with girls," Hunt said, according to The Guardian. "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."
The 72-year-old added that he didn't want to "stand in the way of women."
The Royal Society, of which Hunt is a fellow, quickly put distance between itself and Hunt's remarks: "Tim Hunt's comments don't reflect our views."
The Royal Society later released a statement: "The Royal Society believes that in order to achieve everything that it can, science needs to make the best use of the research capabilities of the entire population. Too many talented individuals do not fulfil their scientific potential because of issues such as gender and the Society is committed to helping to put this right. Sir Tim Hunt was speaking as an individual and his reported comments in no way reflect the views of the Royal Society."
The gender gap in the sciences is pronounced. Only 13 percent of people working in STEM occupations are women, according to Wise, a campaign that promotes women in science, technology and engineering. A whopping 84 percent of full-time professors working in STEM are male.
Perhaps Hunt hasn't yet discovered the protein molecules needed for keeping ones mouth shut or perhaps, thinking before speaking, but judging from this audio of Hunt explaining what he meant at the conference, time to think hasn't changed his mind:
Twitter has been a flurry of comments ranging from a below-the-belt shot to a quick one-two jab combo. One Twitter user wondered how pointy a Nobel Prize is and exactly where it could fit. Others, took a higher road, like this woman, a postdoctoral researcher, who, according to The Guardian, Tweeted: "For every Tim Hunt remark, there's an extra woman in science that takes an interest in feminism. Ever wonder why there are so many of us?"