To be certain, Sir Tim Hunt’s words were unprofessional and indefensible. They were off color, and Sir Tim acknowledged as much in his seemingly genuine apology:
And who is Sir Timothy Hunt? A British biochemist, he won the Noble prize in physiology or medicine for his breakthrough work on how cells divide. In 2006, he was knighted. The man is a genius and should be regarded as a hero to the nation—at least that’s how I assumed being knighted worked.
Sir Tim, for example, is 72 years old. A lot has changed in the way society views women in 72 years. Should the fact that his views are not in time with the most recent trends really surprise anyone? Is ostracizing him for those views not a form of ageism? It would be one thing if colleagues had attested that he treated women poorly or disparaged their work. But the man has been highly regarded throughout his distinguished career.