Thursday, May 31, 2007

Watson on Female Scientists

Lab Lit points to an article in The Scientist about James Watson's response to his not-so-flattering portrayal in the up-coming Rosalind Franklin biopic "The Broken Code."

Despite [James] Watson's assertion that he ‘didn't know Rosalind [Franklin] well,’ he proffered a psychiatric diagnosis for her: Asperger syndrome, the autistic spectrum disorder, which he insisted is common among women who are talented at science."

- Ishani Ganguli writing in The Scientist
I could say "it takes one to know one," but that would be childish. I'll just leave it with Watson's patronizing description of Franklin from The Double Helix, his memoir of the discovery of the structure of DNA.
By choice she did not emphasize her feminine qualities. Though her features were strong, she was not unattractive and might have been quite stunning had she taken even a mild interest in clothes. This she did not. There was never lipstick to contrast with her straight black hair, while at the ag 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. But that was not the case. Her dedicated, austere life could not be thus explained - she was the daughter of a solidly comfortable, erudite banking family.
Are male scientists ever criticized for being unfashionable and dedicated to their work? I really don't think Watson should be so concerned that the movie makes him look like an ass.

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