9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Sometimes it's hard to be a woman,,
This review is from: Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA (Paperback)
'Crick and Watson' are names drilled into my brain as the discoverers of the DNA double helix. I didn't know until I read this book that there should have been a third name which I automatically associated with the structure of DNA - Rosalind Franklyn.
Brenda Maddox has written, in some ways, a sadly familiar tale. We like to think that 'science' is Noble, Pure and Of High Ideals - the great god science may indeed be NP + OHI - however, scientists being mortal men and women (and more often than not, mortal men) are as subject to self-serving, naked ambition, power hungry greed as the rest of us.
There's a rush to get your name on the paper, to get the citations - and the desire for this is not just 'this discovery is for the good of all', but its good for ME.
The cut and thrust world of scientific fame and glory is particularly difficult, even now, for women.
Maddox uncovers a warts and all portrait of the difficult, often unlikeable, brilliant Franklyn. Undoubtedly she lacked charm, she lacked the ability to schmooze, she lacked a graceful character (women of course are particularly 'supposed' to be charming, graceful and likeable) The naked ambition which was palpable (and par for the course) in her male colleagues is seen as unacceptable in a woman.
This book is a fascinating - and to a feminist -'keep those flames of feminism burning' - book. Maddox writes extremely well about the fascinating scientific journey of discovery, and about the dirty politics. She doesn't turn Franklyn into a latter day saint - but it is also clear that whatever her defects of character, being a brilliant woman, a brilliant Jewish woman, in a boys' club, would never be an easy ride.
And..............if you feel tempted to think, but that was a long long time ago, read a more recent account of the alpha male wolf pack atmosphere of big business, nobel prize winning glory prize science in Candace Pert's Molecules of Emotion: Why You Feel the Way You Feel One edition of this latter book, due to the often buggy method of listing foreword writers as well as authors, even has this book, written by a female scientist, as being credited to the foreword writer - so the author is given as Deepak Chopra. A amusing mistake unintentionally illustrating 'the back room girls do the work, the boys elbow their way into the spotlight of fame!'