After Tim Hunt What Next?

On her blog Athene Donald (Professor of Experimental Physics and Gender Equality Champion at the University of Cambridge) makes some suggestions about what we can all do as a result of the news stories surrounding Tim Hunt’s comments:

■Call out bad behaviour whenever and wherever you see it – in committees or in the street. Don’t leave women to be victimised;
■Encourage women to dare, to take risks;
■Act as a sponsor or mentor (if you are just setting out there will still always be people younger than you, including school children, for whom you can act);
■Don’t let team members get away with demeaning behaviour, objectifying women or acting to exclude anyone;
■Refuse to serve on single sex panels or at conferences without an appropriate level of female invited speakers;
■Consider the imagery in your department and ensure it represents a diverse group of individuals;
■Consider the daily working environment to see if anything inappropriate is lurking. If so, do something about it.
■Demand/require mandatory unconscious bias training, in particular for appointment and promotion panels; Unconscious bias training is taking place for 20 SAGES staff this month!
■Don’t let the bold (male or female) monopolise the conversation in the classroom or the apparatus in the laboratory, at the expense of the timid (female or male);
■Nominate women for prizes, fellowships etc;
■Tap women on the shoulder to encourage them to apply for opportunities they otherwise would be unaware of or feel they were not qualified for;
■Move the dialogue on from part-time working equates to ‘isn’t serious’ to part-time working means balancing different demands;
■Recognize the importance of family (and even love) for men and women;
■Be prepared to be a visible role model;
■Gather evidence, data and anecdote, to provide ammunition for management to change;
■Listen and act if a woman starts hinting there are problems, don’t be dismissive because it makes you uncomfortable;
■Think broadly when asked to make suggestions of names for any position or role.








What will you do? What can we all do………..?

Female scientists post ‘distractingly sexy’ photos

Trending today:

‘Female scientists have been sharing “distractingly sexy” photos of themselves after a feminist website encouraged them to respond to comments by a Nobel laureate. On Thursday the hashtag #DistractinglySexy began taking off, with more than 10,000 tweets in a matter of hours. The trend was prompted by a shout-out by the feminist online magazine Vagenda which urged female scientists to share pictures of themselves at work. WARNING: the photos are not graphic in the slightest!’  Read more about this story on the BBC News website –











At Southampton they have even updated their laboratory signage!











Do you have any photographs to share?

Athena SWAN set to spread wings and head Down Under

Published today (11th June) in the Times Higher, Holly Else discusses the upcoming 10th anniversary of Athena Swan, and its expansion both across institutions in the UK, and also potentially globally-

”The Equality Challenge Unit is in advanced talks to take its flagship charter mark for improving gender equality in higher education to universities in Australia. David Ruebain, chief executive of the ECU, said that there was interest in the Athena SWAN scheme “across the world” but that discussions are advanced in Australia, where the ECU is looking to develop a partnership with an agency to run the scheme there”

See the full article here –



Sir Tim Hunt resigns from university role over girls comment

Tim Hunt has resigned from his position as Honorary Professor with the Faculty of Life Sciences at UCL.

‘He told the BBC he “did mean” the remarks but was “really sorry”. See the full story here –

Tim Hunt







‘A statement from the university read: “UCL can confirm that Sir Tim Hunt FRS has resigned from his position as honorary professor with the UCL faculty of life sciences following comments he made about women in science at the World Conference of Science Journalists on 9 June. UCL was the first university in England to admit women students on equal terms to men, and the university believes that this outcome is compatible with our commitment to gender equality.”

Sir Tim Hunt ‘sorry’ over ‘trouble with girls’ comments

Tim Hunt told BBC Radio 4 Today programme that he “did mean” the remarks but was “really sorry”.

See the full story on the BBC News website –

‘He went on to say he stood by some of the remarks. “I did mean the part about having trouble with girls,” he said. “It is true that people – I have fallen in love with people in the lab and people in the lab have fallen in love with me and it’s very disruptive to the science because it’s terribly important that in a lab people are on a level playing field. “I found that these emotional entanglements made life very difficult. “I’m really, really sorry I caused any offence, that’s awful. I certainly didn’t mean that. I just meant to be honest, actually.”


Nobel scientist Tim Hunt: female scientists cause trouble for men in labs

Tim Hunt, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Medicine has addressed the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea to argue that men and women should not work together in science labs.  He argued that gender-segregated labs are essential. “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.”

See more about this news story in the Guardian -”Hunt’s words have also been roundly criticised by female scientists on Twitter. One woman, a postdoctoral researcher, 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?”










What do you think about these comments?

Faking it

On 7th June Athene Donald (Professor of Experimental Physics at Cambridge) wrote a blog post about ‘Faking It’ – how to fake a lack of experience to appear confident.

”It is bound to feel a bit unnerving to do anything for the first time and, as a result, there is the danger that you will ‘freeze’ or, at the very least, perform less well than you feel you’re capable of. How to beat that? In my view, the only way to do it is to ‘pretend’ that you know what you’re doing and slowly you’ll find that perhaps you really do. Of course, there are some things you may never be very good at; that is also true for everyone and in time you can work out what your own weaknesses are and avoid the wrong kind of situations and tasks. But, if you avoid everything just in case….you’ll never find out your strengths………….”










Have you put this into practice?  Does this work for you?  Do you have any hints and tips?

Students with ‘grit’ do not push themselves to excess

Published on the 8th June on the BBC News website, Abigail Simmons explores the balance between academic success and working excessive hours. ‘Students who show “grit” in their character do not push themselves at all costs, say researchers. A study rejects the idea that such determination is linked to extreme behaviour, such as missing out on sleep or working excessive hours. Four thousand teenagers took part in the research project by Wellington College and Harvard Graduate School of Education’ –








‘Neuroscientist Christina Hinton, a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, says: “Our results suggest that grit does not require pushing yourself at all costs, but rather cultivating healthy emotional regulation skills and effective learning strategies.”

How easy is it to have a work life balance?  Do your colleagues/role models do this?

The perils of juggling motherhood and academic work

‘When Patty Ramirez became pregnant during her PhD she assumed she could ‘have it all’. The reality was far more stressful.’ See the full article by Patty Ramirez published in the Times Higher today (4th June 2015).









‘I was euphoric when, two weeks after starting my PhD, I found out I was pregnant. Having been brought up with the feminist conviction that I could “have it all”, and having reassured myself that maternity leave and childcare funding would be available to me, I felt sure I could successfully juggle childcare and doctoral study.

On a bleak January day five years later, as I numbly handed in my thesis, I reflected on how wrong I had been. In reality, the cost of childcare brought my family to its financial knees – and the stress that it imposed on my marriage, my parenting and my mental health has led me to quit academia for good.’