“Three things happen when women work in labs,” the Nobel prizewinning biochemist Tim Hunt said in 2015. “You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry.” He went on to suggest single-sex labs as a solution. The subtext of his comments and recommendation is clear: women bring emotions to work, and feelings have no place in professional settings.
Soon after, Hunt came under fire for his comments and apologized. But his words revealed a prominent bias in corporate culture, which is that tears are unprofessional. Studies show that getting misty-eyed at work translates as fragile and incompetent. While crying signals a lack of control, professionalism is all about poise.
But what if workplaces started to honor emotions instead of recoiling from them?