TiU professor’s research used to defend Tim Hunt
Tim Hunt, the professor who resigned from his job at the University College London after he was accused of making sexist comments, received help from the mayor of London. Boris Johnson backs up his defense with research from Ad Vingerhoets, a professor from Tilburg University who wrote the book “Why humans weep. Unravelling the mysteries of tears”.Last week, Hunt became the target of world-wide outrage when he climbed the stage at a conference in South Korea and 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 criticize them, they cry.” A lot of people took offence, and on Twitter, women started posting photo’s of themselves under the hashtag #distractinglysexy.
Now, the mayor of London, Boris Johson, says the Nobel laureate was just making a joke and he should not get punished like this. In an opinion article in the Daily Telegraph, he writes: “the world’s leading expert on crying, Professor Ad Vingerhoets of Tilburg University, has shown that women on average cry 30-64 times a year, while men cry only between 6 and 17 times a year; and the Dutchman also claims that women cry for an average of six minutes, while men cry for only two to three minutes.” His most important argument is: “There is […] a gender difference, and it should not be an offence to say that.”
“I am honored,” Ad Vingerhoets jokingly said this morning. “I can send this to talkshow host Eva Jinek, she wants to talk to me if crying becomes a topical issue. It goes a bit far though, to use my work to defend Tim Hunt, since it only concerns one of his three statements. But yes, it is true that women cry more often than men, it is a scientific fact.” The ‘cry professor’ says that crying in work situations is an often-discusses theme, especially in American media. “Studies show it can cost people promotions if they cry at the work floor.”
Boris Johnson sees the denial of gender differences as the cause of inequality. He continues: “At the moment we are failing to unlock the talents of both sexes because we are failing to grasp that they are intellectually equal but in some ways emotionally different. Until we work out how to handle and how to compensate for these gender differences, we will continue to see too few female scientists, and too many male kids who are getting left behind by the system.”