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A Hidden Gem

Who is Rosalind Franklin?

Rosalind Franklin (July 25, 1920- April 16, 1958) was a British scientist best known for her contributions to the discovery of the molecular structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA. Franklin further contributed new insight on the structure of viruses, helping to lay the foundation for the field of structural virology.

Research Findings

In 1951, Franklin joined the Biophysical Laboratory at King’s College, London, as a research fellow. There she applied X-ray diffraction methods to the study of DNA. When she began her research at King’s College, very little was known about the chemical makeup or structure of DNA. However, she soon discovered the density of DNA and, more importantly, established that the molecule existed in a helical form. However, when credit is given, it is mainly given to James Watson and Francis Crick for the identification that it is a double-helical formation. But why?

An Unbalanced Society

Looking back, Rosalind Franklin is simply not given credit because she was a woman. While the situation has become much better in the past 50 years, the workplace is still not equal. There have been prominent organizations developed to help women pursue a career in STEM, despite often still being discouraged to study STEM-related subjects growing up. Women today are making significant contributions to the fields of engineering and computing, yet are still a distinct minority in these fields as they make up only 28% of STEM majors. Stereotypes and prejudice beliefs lie at the core of the challenges women face. Expanding women’s representation in STEM-related subjects will require the combined efforts of employers, educational institutions, policymakers, and individuals to create environments that are truly welcoming for women. Change has come and it needs to go on.

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