Tim Hunt's use of self-deprecation and irony are characteristic of his personality. He uses the device in all his talks. In one talk, for example, he refers to himself as a "has been". However, I agree that self-deprecation and irony don't travel well and he was ill advised to joke in this fashion to an international audience.
The reasons why so few women go into engineering and technology jobs are complex but I rather suspect that the main reason is not because they are concerned about perceived sexist remarks from the men they think they might be working with. We are all individuals and you can't extrapolate from one person's comments and assume that it applies to the whole male sex.
I sympathise with you over the problems of public speaking. It's something I've had to learn to do too, and I never imagined I would ever be able to do it. Whenever you look at any advice on public speaking the recommendation is always not to attempt any jokes. Unfortunately no one ever gives you any lessons in how to do it. I actually think it's an essential life skill that should be taught in all schools, or at least in universities. I actually did two courses at the Society of Authors, one on "giving a reading" and another on "giving an interview", both of which I found very helpful but I still have a lot to learn.
My main concern about the whole affair was that I could see myself in a similar situation. I've sometimes made casual comments when answering questions after my talks (eg, I remember once making a comment about men not being very good at multi-tasking). The way the Tim Hunt affair was handled seemed to set a precedent. I deplore this whole idea of publicly shaming someone on Twitter. If I said something inappropriate I would much rather someone told me to my face, or at least registered a complaint with the organisers so that I wouldn't make the same mistake twice.
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