Boris Johnson has called for Tim Hunt, the scientist who resigned from his senior academic positions after making provocative comments about women at a conference last week, to be given his jobs back.
The London Mayor claims it is a “fact” that women cry more than men, and Hunt should therefore not be punished for his comments.
Speaking to an audience of science journalists in Seoul, Hunt said: “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.”
The resulting backlash caused the pre-eminent scientist, who won a Nobel prize for his research into cell development in the 1980s, to step down from his positions at the Royal Society and University College London.
But in an article for the Daily Telegraph, Johnson said Hunt had been “pointing out a natural phenomenon”, and that he “should be reinstated forthwith to his academic positions”.
To back up his point, he used the example of a study into crying by Professor Ad Vingerhoets of Tilburg University, which showed how women cry on average 30-64 times a year, while men cry between six and 17 times a year.
Whether you say it is a function of biology or social expectation, it is a fact that – on the whole – men and women express emotion differently. There is, in other words, a gender difference, and it should not be an offence to say that.