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Events

Women’s work: Dorothy Hodgkin and the culture and craft of X-ray crystallography

Event

Event audio

April
042014

13:00 - 14:00

Location

The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG

Overview

Public history of science lecture by Georgina Ferry

Dorothy Hodgkin, by Bryan Organ, 1982

Event details

Georgina Ferry is a science writer and broadcaster, and the author of Dorothy Hodgkin: a life (1998).

The year 2014 is being celebrated as the International Year of Crystallography. A number of successful 20th century women scientists, of whom the Nobel prizewinner Dorothy Hodgkin is perhaps the most prominent, achieved their distinction in this field. While no one has undertaken a rigorous quantitative analysis, it is common to come across statements that X-ray crystallography is particularly welcoming to women, or conversely that it is something women are particularly good at. Does either of these statements stand up? 

Georgina Ferry will explore the social circumstances under which Hodgkin conducted her work on penicillin, vitamin B12 and insulin, and will look at the practical and theoretical skills she needed to achieve her results. Did she find an unusually supportive environment in the field, and to what extent did her gender have anything to do with her success?

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Women’s work: Dorothy Hodgkin and the culture and craft of X-ray crystallography The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK