“Let me tell you about my trouble with girls,” British Nobel laureate Sir Tim Hunt said.
"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."
The 72 year-old won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2001 and says a mixed-gender working environment is not conducive to productivity.
Speaking at a South Korean conference, Hunt called himself a "chauvinist pig", before launching into his tirade. Hunt later told the BBC that he was trying to be honest, but that he was sorry for any offence caused.
The problem in science, however, is that there are too few women, rather than too many. In the UK, only about 12.8 per cent of science, engineering and technology posts are filled by women. If health-related jobs are removed from the equation, the figure falls to less than 10 per cent. These figures were cited by Wise, a campaign to promote women in science, technology and engineering.
A Yale study in 2012 showed that science had a deep-seated bias against women, with employers more likely to favour male applicants over female, even when both were equally experienced.
The Royal Society released a statement saying:
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.