There’s a lot of wonderful things I’ve inherited from my mother, including my desire for a strong family life (be both have 3 kids), a love for fashion and beauty, and the belief that women can kick ass in ANY career. My mother is pioneer. During the 60’s when most women were gearing up to be stay-at-home moms, my mother was the ONLY female receiving her PhD at MIT in chemistry. And she didn’t stop there. She become one of the most loved and highly prolific professors in the sciences at Wellesley College. She started the computers/IT department and still works in her chemistry lab to this day.
So when I read the incredibly sexist statements by Nobel Prize winner, scientist Tim Hunt, I was shocked and disgusted. Here’s a taste of his drivel: “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.” (Via Daily Mail)
After decades of women rocking it in science, we still have to confront people like this? More than that, Hunt obviously felt his statements had enough legitimacy that he could say them in public without anyone batting an eyelash!
As soon as I read the stories, though, I was equally moved by the reactions. How did female scientists respond? Did they shout criticisms on YouTube videos or write tearful Op-Eds?
Nope. Even better. They laughed at Hunt.
Women scientists around the world photographed themselves in their unsexy, sometimes disgusting uniforms and headlined their pics with statements about how obviously sexual and sensitive they are. The pics were signed with the handle #distractingly sexy. Hilarious! See some of the pics below.
Humor is the best reaction. Not only does it make the point but it empowers us. I’m so proud of these “sexy, sensitive” women. They breaking are ceilings in their fields AND have enough confidence, humor and beauty to fight the system in a united way.
The fact that women used the very media that is often blasted for harming women’s self-image, i.e., photos and social media, could have raised some eyebrows. But I think it’s perfect. When women can show that they are not victims of digital media but can actually harness these tools for their own empowering messages, makes their statements that much more powerful.
Of course Hunt’s statements aren’t funny. And the fact that he can publicize such opinions signals how far we have to go in the sciences to finally give women the opportunities they need.
But the fact that women can congregate and react so quickly and beautifully gives me major hope!