Now a sometimes almost unrecognisable Rosalind has been put on an unrealistic pedestal. She is no longer a warning, but has become “the forgotten heroine”. Her story has been adopted by feminists as a symbol of a woman struggling and unacknowledged in a man’s world. This would, I think, have embarrassed her almost as much as Watson’s account would have upset her. It suited the feminism of the 1960s and 1970s to portray her as a victim of male dominance, but she would have thought of herself simply as a scientist whose achievements should have been judged on their own terms, not as a “woman scientist” striking a blow for the rights of women. It is hard to say how far Rosalind’s difficulties at King’s College were added to because she was a woman, as well as arising from misunderstandings and a basic personality clash. She certainly felt insulted when she found that the main dining room at King’s, where scientists would meet for discussions over lunch or coffee, was open only to men; this un-Parisian attitude was hard to take even if not unusual in English colleges at the time. Never integrated into the life of the lab, she felt marginalised, in a way that may well have made her more prickly and assertive, increasing the tensions.
Jenifer Glynn - Remembering My Sister Rosalind Franklin : (The Lancet)
Jenifer Glynn has a new book out recounting the life and work of Rosalind Franklin from a sister’s perspective. Rosalind Franklin was thrust into a position as heroine of the “downtrodden woman scientist, brilliant but neglected” that she neither sought nor would have wanted. Her deep personal conflict with a small group of scientists (Watson and Wilkins) have made many forget that she too, was independently brilliant. She certainly deserves more credit than she’s received, but this is a refreshing perspective on her many successes rather than just her identity as an ignored woman scientist.(via jtotheizzoe)