#DistractinglySexy Proves That Women Are Essential To The Advancement Of STEM — And Always Have Been
When Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt said at a conference that science should keep women separate from men because otherwise people will "fall in love" with each other (and also that women cry all the time), the world was quite predictably not pleased. And as part of the much-deserved backlash against both Hunt and his outdated, sexist attitude, Vagenda Magazine started a hashtag, #DistractinglySexy, to fight the idea that women in STEM fields are an impediment to science. And people have used the hashtag to tweet everything from pictures of famous female scientists throughout history to photos of themselves doing scientist things. It's pretty awesome, and it proves that women not only are essential for the advancement of science and technology, but always have been essential for it, as well.
Despite all the backlash, Hunt seems to still be unrepentant regarding his sexist worldview. During a radio program he admitted he was "sorry" and that he knew it was "stupid" to say such things in the presence of journalists, but couldn't seem to help but add, "I did mean the part about having trouble with girls."
He has, however, resigned from his honorary professorship at University College London. In a statement the university said, "UCL was the first university in England to admit women students on equal terms to men, and the university believes that this outcome is compatible with our commitment to gender equality." So good for them.
Hunt's comments about needing to keep men and women separate were not only impractical (how are people supposed to do great work if they can't collaborate?) and heteronormative (so, men and women only fall in love with each other now?), but they also implies that women can't ever be scientists in the way that men can. Because women doing science is only distracting if you can't think of the woman in question as a scientist and instead just see her as someone to "fall in love with." It's insulting and not at all the way things work in the real world, where women are, you know, people.
So naturally, the Twitterverse has taken up the cause to show just how foolish Hunt is with the tongue-in-cheek #DistractinglySexy hashtag.
Some have used it to draw attention to famous female figures in STEM, such as Ada Lovelace, who created the first computer program way back in the mid 19th century:
To Marie Curie:
To Katherine Hamilton:
To Gertrude Elion:
To Rosalind Franklin, whose research was used without permission by the men who went on to win a Nobel Prize for "discovering" the structure of DNA.
And in addition to the historical lady scientists (because yes, there really were a lot of them), modern day women working in science posted their own photos as well. You will note that none of them seem to be either falling in love or crying in any of the pictures; rather, they're intent on unlocking the mysteries of science, because science is awesome:
And even some of the guys got involved:
So let's stop perpetuating all these unnecessary and innacurate stereotypes. Science is cool, no matter who is making it happen.