July 25th: Rosalind Franklin!

Now this is the kind of thing we want to see: Google Doodles using their international stage to highlight the incredible contributions of all women, including those who have been left out of history. They’ve done just that today with an incredible Doodle honoring scientist Rosalind Franklin.

The Google Doodle honoring the birthday of Rosalind Franklin.

The Google Doodle honoring the birthday of Rosalind Franklin.

Born on this day in 1920, Franklin contributed greatly to our understanding of the structure of DNA, and her contribution was not truly recognized. Her techniques in X-ray crystallography helped her uncover the structures of many molecules, though DNA made the biggest splash. Using her data, Watson and Crick were able to publish their work on the double-helix structure of DNA. In school, we learn about these colleagues, who won the Nobel Prize, and not about Franklin, who did not live to see the award after she died of ovarian cancer at age 37.

A portrait of Rosalind Franklin.

A portrait of Rosalind Franklin.

Indeed, the data (and her interpretations) were shared with Watson without Franklin’s cooperation or agreement. Others have written much more about her life, her talents, and the way her colleagues ignored her. I would encourage you to learn as much as you can about Franklin’s story.

I’m thrilled to see a Doodle honoring Franklin, for several different reasons. First, Franklin is often overlooked, so it is wonderful to see her contributions on Google’s main stage. But second, and perhaps more importantly, Franklin serves as a poignant reminder of why the Speaking Up project exists. I hear a lot of criticism on my project based on some variation of the idea that “it’s not Google’s fault that women haven’t accomplished things worthy of Doodles.” Franklin points out to us that, of course, women have accomplished these things. It’s just that we, as a society, don’t always push ourselves to speak up for the systematic injustices that women have faced in having their world value those accomplishments. Today’s Doodle gives us a chance to be confronted with that, and given their stark gender problem in Doodles, I think it was a great move for Google.

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