So today is the first ever UN international day of women and girls in science! Its about time we got a bit more recognition. So all over twitter today women in STEM have been telling us their favourite women in STEM giving us all a little bit of a boost. This got me thinking about my own favourite. Turns out I don’t really have a science idol either male or female – it’s a shame I’m not as rich as Simon Cowl or there’s a new talent show right there – Science Idol/Science has got talent?/the STEM factor ? hmmm maybe that needs some work.
Ok So I guess now would be a good time to do some research and find me a favourite STEM girl…
Right I would like to introduce to Rosalind Franklin.
She was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer who made contributions to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid), viruses, coal, and graphite. Although her works on coal and viruses were appreciated in her lifetime, her contributions to the discovery of DNA were largely recognized posthumously.
Her story still causes controversy even now, as she is arguably the unsung hero in the discovery of the DNA structure. While Watson and Crick are credited with this discovery, without her it could have arguably taken a lot longer to decipher. Between 1951 and 1953 she came very close to solving the DNA structure but was beaten to publication in part because of the friction between colleague Maurice Wilkins and herself. At one point, Wilkins showed Watson one of Franklin’s crystallographic portraits of DNA. When he saw the picture, the solution became apparent to him, and the results went into an article in Nature almost immediately.
Not only was she a brilliant scientist but as her photo above attests she also highlights how you don’t have to have the classic ‘geeky girl scientist’ look but can be classy and feminie too – or whichever ‘look’ you want.
Here’s to Women in STEM!