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Female scientists 'too concerned about how they're perceived'

Female scientists are 'too concerned about the way they are perceived rather than the way their science is perceived', says Oxford University's Prof Dame Valerie Beral.

A senior female scientist has defended the Nobel Science laureate who has resigned from his university post after making contentious comments about "girls in labs".

Sir Tim Hunt had said odd things that sounded terrible, but he was not a sexist, said Prof Dame Valerie Beral, director of Oxford University's Cancer Epidemiology Unit, University of Oxford.

Prof Dame Beral told Today "he's a very kind and very eccentric, unworldly sort of man", and that his comments have been misinterpreted.

There were as many women as men as doctoral students but fewer and fewer up the ranks, because equally qualified women were not applying for senior jobs, she added.

Women working in professions like science or the city "take these intense environments a bit too seriously and if something goes wrong they take it too personally”, she said.

“Maybe women really find that sort of environment too difficult to cope with – not intellectually, but emotionally.

"Women are too concerned about the way they’re perceived rather than the way their science is perceived.

"I think women are much more likely to take criticism personally rather than the work being criticised."

Journalist and activist Caroline Criado-Perez said that while she found the social media reaction to the comments funny, it was concerning when “online mobs” were allowed to dictate how a university responded.

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