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Korean Women Scientists Condemn Serious Distortions in Tim Hunt Story

Paula Higgins and Dan Waddell photo
Paula Higgins and Dan WaddellUnited Kingdom
Korean Women Scientists Condemn Serious Distortions in Tim Hunt Story
The Korea Federation of Women's Science and Technology criticises misreporting and 'serious distortion of facts' in Tim Hunt case.

The Korea Federation of Women's Science and Technology (KOFWST), who sponsored the lunch where Tim Hunt made his infamous comments last June, have broken their silence to condemn 'foreign commentators' misreporting of the story.

KOFWST (membership: 61,000) have today published a statement on their website, following a special meeting of its Executive Council on 16 November 2015 in which it 'examined what was argued in a series of email messages [by Louise Mensch--see below] sent to KOFWST President Hee Young Paik.' 

The statement says, 'as far as KOFWST's involvement is concerned, the case involving Sir Hunt’s inappropriate remark is a matter brought to resolution; KOFWST requested an apology, Sir Hunt responded with an apology, and his letter of apology, along with its Korean translation, was made public.'

'In light of this, KOFWST issues a warning about the ongoing serious distortion of facts by foreign commentators, suggesting that KOFWST has lied, or that KOFWST’s request to Sir Hunt was influenced by foreign journalists. Such allegations ignore undeniable facts and evidence and demonstrate a lack of regard for KOFWST’s autonomy and integrity [emboldened in original].’

The statement also clarifies any further doubt about the organisation's role as sponsors of the lunch:

'KOFWST sponsored the lunch on June 8, 2015 for the 9th WCSJ Conference held in Seoul. This fact was confirmed by the Secretariat of the 9th WCSJ. The Conference proceedings, distributed on June 8th, 2015, also lists KOFWST as an official sponsor. (Evidence 1 & 2).'

It reaffirms the rationale behind KOFWST's original statement of last June demanding that Hunt apologise for his comments:

'During the lunch, Sir Hunt made a remark that disparaged female scientists who often work under difficult conditions in the lab. KOFWST Executive Council reaffirms that it found the remark to be inappropriate and offensive to women in science and technology, even if meant as a joke.'

Mensch and others have claimed that KOFWST demanded the apology at the request of foreign journalists, and have even accused those same journalists of playing a role in writing or translating the statement. KOFWST vehemently denies these allegations, as clarified in today's statement.

'Pursuant to a resolution adopted by its Executive Council in a special meeting on June 15, 2015, KOFWST sent a letter to Sir Hunt requesting an official apology for the remark. The action was entirely KOFWST’s own decision and completely independent of any third party influence. The letter asked Sir Hunt to take the requested action within 24 hours of receipt of the letter. This was to take a swift countermeasure to calm Korean media criticism against him at the earliest possible stage, and to facilitate his future cooperation with the Korean science community. This was very effective in Korea.'

It goes on to acknowledge Hunt's apology and includes Paik's email response (Evidence 3) to Hunt 'thanking him for his prompt apology and informing him that his letter would be officially announced.' The email also mentions that Hunt had misspelled her name and that she would correct that before publication.

The statement bears the signatures of 16 officers of KOFWST:  the President and President-Elect, ten Vice Presidents, and four Executive Secretaries.

As to the source of the 'series of email messages' that led to today's statement, we reproduce the covering email, entitled Official Response of KOFWST, sent to Louise Mensch, and to us, as authors of this piece (summary here):

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 3:26 AM [EDT]

Dear Louise Mensch, Dan Waddell and Paula Higgins,

Following a special meeting of the Executive Council of the Korea Federation of Women's Science and Technology Associations (KOFWST), which reviewed all relevant communications and evidences regarding KOFWST’s request and subsequent publication of an apology from Sir Tim Hunt, the Council has now published its position on the groundless nature of charges made against KOFWST and its President on its website.

This email is being sent to Louise Mensch, Dan Waddell and Paula Higgins because Louise Mensch recently sent emails notifying that these groundless charges would be written in her rebuttal to a recent article by Dan Waddell (and Paula Higgins) relating to the matter.

KOFWST is clearly stating its position and facts of the situation in order to put this matter to rest and will not tolerate any further threats to publish misinformation in articles or other media. Though KOFWST does not have a Twitter account with which to disseminate this statement, it is a public document that all can access in both Korean and English on our website. The statement can be accessed here: <Link>[kofwst.org]

Sincerely,

Executive Council

KOFWST


These criticisms come a week after the Association of British Science Writers rejected Mensch's complaints about Connie St Louis' reporting of Hunt's comments, describing them as 'vexatious and submitted with the goal of smearing an individual'.

#timhunt tim hunt louise mensch sexism women in science KOFWST

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Hermann Steinpilz

3 years ago

I had to laugh about this:

"These criticisms come a week after the Association of British Science Writers rejected Mensch's complaints about Connie St Louis' reporting of Hunt's comments, describing them as 'vexatious and submitted with the goal of smearing an individual'."

"Vexatious and submitted with the goal of smearing an individual."

Yeah, that is exactly how I would describe Connie St. Louis "reporting".

Hermann Steinpilz

3 years ago

It is still a fact that the Korea Federation of Women's Science and Technology only demanded an apology after the lies and misrepresentations of Connie St. Louis had gained traction in the international press. Due to her "reporting" it was initially believed by many that Sir Tim had seriously proposed that gender-segregated labs would be a good thing. He was painted as a sexist dinosaur, whereas in fact he had helped many women scientists throughout his career. This was and still is a case of horribly unjust character assassination.

It is no surprise that the Koreans deny that they were influenced by foreign journalists. Of course they would deny that. Who is going to admit that they mindlessly jumped a bandwagon?

Nor is it a surprise that the Association of British Science Writers rejected Mensch's complaints about Connie St. Louis' "reporting". Ms. St. Louis is a former director and still involved with the ABSW in another capacity. She clearly has a lot of acolytes there who support her.

Apart from Sir Tim, the biggest loser in this affair has been journalism itself. If have lost all respect for the "science journalists" who were involved. Science, truth and honesty are evidently the last things people like Connie St. Louis and her kind are interested in.