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Rosalind Franklin

‘By choice she did not emphasize her feminine qualities. . . . There was never lipstick to contrast with her straight black hair, while at the age of thirty-one her dresses showed all the imagination of English blue-stocking adolescents. So it was quite easy to imagine her the product of an unsatisfied mother who unduly stressed the desirability of professional careers that could save bright girls from marriages to dull men. . . . Clearly Rosy had to go or be put in her place. The former was obviously preferable because, given her belligerent moods, it would be very difficult for Maurice [Wilkins] to maintain a dominant position that would allow him to think unhindered about DNA. . . . The thought could not be avoided that the best home for a feminist was in another person's lab.’ 
Ten years after Rosalind Franklin's death, James Watson described her thus in his best-selling book The Double Helix. When a friend of Franklin's tried to console her mother that at least Franklin would always be remembered, her mother's answer was, "I would rather she were forgotten than remembered in this way."

 
 
 

Possible Student Activity

Students can review a number of different sources and decide what they believe the truth was and why. 

  

Jigsaw Groupwork: 

One source can be allocated to each student (allowing for differentiation) for them to then come together to discuss what they learned and decide if Rosalind Franklin should be recognised equally with Watson and Crick for the discovery of the structure of DNA. 

Students can discuss the bias and reliability of the sources of information they used. 

  • What makes one source more trusted than another?   

  • How and why does the story change? 

 

Other Resources

Video from the Guardian

strangescience.net article on Rosalind Franklin

Article from The Guardian on Sexism in Science

The Lancet article on Rosalind Franklin and Photograph 51

Traditional Library
 
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