Hunt's main problems with women seem to be about love. In his view it is bad for science if scientists fall in love with each other. Workplace romances make life complicated in all sorts of sectors, but the idea that science works best without love is heartbreaking. Hunt and other scientists insist that science is objective and therefore works best when it is undertaken without emotion. Love is the most complicated and powerful of all emotions, and therefore a most dangerous force in the lab. This representation of science not only discourages lively, passionate human beings, including women, from engaging with important and exciting work, but it is inaccurate. Laboratories are full of emotion. Unfortunately the dominant emotion in too many laboratories is fear.
Laboratories run by great and powerful scientists in elitist, competitive institutions, driven to raise large amounts of funding and achieve external prizes and recognition, are too often very fearful places to work. Students and postdocs on precarious employment contracts live in fear of their livelihoods and careers. Workplaces where 'scientific brilliance' provides immunity from the norms of basic human decency can too easily condone bullying and harrassment, creating cultures of fear which induce many more tears and are far more dangerous to science than love.
Love and fear go deeper in science than workplace culture - in many ways they shape science itself. A lot of science is based in fear, particularly research associated with military and security applications, or driven by a desparate race to boost 'international competiveness'. Other research is founded in love, particularly research that aims to improve human health and happiness or probe the deepest wonders of life and the universe.
Which leads us back to the gender problem in science and engineering. Women seem to be more attracted to workplaces that are free of fear and research areas that are founded in love. Of all the complex reasons why women are still under represented in science and engineering, perhaps the answer is simply love.