The Trouble With (Needless to Say) Distractingly Sexy Girls

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Michelle La Rue: "Thank goodness for the cold weather gear - otherwise my male teammates (and penguins) might have fallen in love. Big bonus: The goggles hide my lady scientist tears that are frozen to my face."


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It seems the trouble with (sorry to say) astonishingly stupid boys, even otherwise high-achieving ones, is that many remain mind-blowingly sexist. Because last month's implosion of misogyny by a Caltech astronomer wasn't enough, we now have British biochemist and Nobel Laureate Sir Tim Hunt describing out loud his "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 criticize them they cry." Hunt, 72, made the remarks June 9 to an audience at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea, which presumably included no lady-parts writers because how could they possibly understand all that man-talk about math and labs and other STEM-y stuff? With almost all scientific fields mightily struggling with charges of sexism and gender bias, Hunt's comments hit a firestorm of criticism. Afterwards, he called the remarks "very stupid" and explained he'd meant to be "light-hearted (and) ironic," even though he really had found "emotional entanglements (at the lab) made life very difficult." He then resigned his post as honorary professor at University College London. 

 Sir Tim - who sounds a lot like a character in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" - jammed his foot in his under-educated mouth right after California Institute of Technology planetary science professor Shrinivas Kulkarni had declared in an interview, “Many scientists, I think, secretly are what I call ‘boys with toys,'" thus suggesting the estimated million-plus women currently working in science don't, in his mind, exist. His comment sparked #GirlsWithToys. It's good, but pretty mild-mannered compared to the fierce edge and riotous wit of #DistractinglySexy, wherein gloved, masked, goggled, geared-up women crack wise. Entries include a photo of  Marie Curie with, "I'm really glad that Curie managed to take a break from crying to discover radium and polonium," a photo of a white-coated Melanie Link-Perez with, "Me being #DistractinglySexy performing gel extraction of nuclear genes in safety gear," and a photo of a masked, overalled Jennifer Pennel on a cliff with, "In the field because I'm too for the lab. Took ages to find a pic where I'm not crying." So, sorry Sir Tim. Wrong again. Women in science don't cry. They take to Twitter, with a vengeance.

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Amelia Cervera: "Filter mask protects me from hazardous chemicals and muffles my woman cries. Double win!"

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