It's time again my friends, for us to gather together and celebrate the badass women of yore (or modern day, whatever I feel like). Now as a reminder, Badass Women are simply women who lived their lives, did their thing, did it well, and did it all without giving a flying f*$#k what society expected of them or what people thought of them.
Today, we will be paying homage to a woman who has seriously been swept under the rug of history. In fact, when I was telling my mom about her on the phone earlier, she had never heard her story in spite of her contributions to chemistry, general science, and our understanding of how literally all living things work. That woman is, Rosalind Franklin PhD.
Franklin, born in 1920, was a chemist and x-ray chrystallographer at King's College London during the 1950s. As I'm sure you're aware, women weren't typically encouraged to pursue the sciences at this time, but Franklin had such a great enthusiasm for her work that was often disappointed by the men in around her who didn't approached the field with the same gusto.
Not only did she have more general enthusiasm than the men around her, she was also more skilled. When she was granted the Turner Newall Fellowship, she was originally intended to work on x-ray diffraction of proteins and lipids in solution" (don't worry, I don't know what that means either), but was reassigned to work on DNA fibers because she was the only experienced experimental diffraction researcher at the time.
And it was Franklin's work with DNA that was truly badass.
During her time at Kings College London, Franklin took the clearest images of the DNA structure available at the time. Now if you remember back to high school, you'll know that the double helix structure of DNA was discovered by two dudes, James Watson and Francis Crick. But Watson and Crick were also research associates at Kings College and through a lot of politics, some shady behavior, and other confusing occurrences, they had access to Franklin's x-rays and papers Franklin had co-written with Maurice Wilkins. When Watson and Crick published their findings in 1953 (which they 10000000% could not have done without Rosalind's images) they added the footnote about their findings having been stimulated by general knowledge of an unpublished contribution.
So basically, Franklin did the leg work and two men used her research, which they were not capable of producing themselves, to make a major scientific breakthrough and then gave Franklin no credit whatsoever.
When I first heard this story, I was 12 and a science museum in LA. I remember not being able to believe that this incredibly intelligent and hardworking woman had had her work stolen and her findings passed off as those of two people incapable of the research. My tween-self was outraged by the injustice and ever since then, Rosalind Franklin has been on my list of badass women whose tales I will tell until I'm blue in the face.
So do me a favor, next time some mentions Watson and Crick or DNA (because these things happen often), make sure they know who Rosalind Franklin was and that she finally gets the credit she deserves.