Rosalind Franklin and Unsung Women in Science

Rosalind Franklin and Unsung Women in Science

Analysis: women in research teams are significantly less likely than men to be credited with authorship.

May 9, 2023, 11:21 a.m. ET

Rosalind Elsie Franklin, the British chemist and crystallographer, in 1955. She died in 1958. Credit...Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group, via Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “Essay Extends Debate Over DNA Discovery” (Science Times, May 2):

Determining the role that Rosalind Franklin played in the discovery of the structure of DNA remains a contentious issue.

Lamentably, Dr. Franklin is often one of the few female scientists people can name as one who deserved more credit than she received during her lifetime. There are hundreds — if not thousands — of such unsung women throughout history.

Their discoveries built the very foundations of modern chemistry, physics, astronomy, psychiatry and more. This has become increasingly evident to us as we work our way through our ever-increasing database of 250 deceased women of science.

It might be true that today’s women are less likely to be shortchanged when it comes to receiving credit — and for that we are grateful. But on behalf of those who can no longer speak for themselves, we will continue our work to snatch them from the jaws of historical obscurity.

We applaud the light being trained on Rosalind Franklin and the issues of credit for women in science. It’s time to broaden the beam.

Amy Scharf
Katie Hafner
The writers are co-executive producers of the Lost Women of Science Initiative, an educational nonprofit. Ms. Hafner is a former reporter for The New York Times.