Thank You, Marie Curie

Thank You, Marie Curie

Thank You, Marie Curie

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Oct. 7 2009 1:12 PM

Thank You, Marie Curie

A third woman has won the Nobel Prize for science this year. Israeli Ada Yonath is sharing the chemistry prize for her work on the structure of the ribosome. She joins Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider (once Blackburn’s student) who shared the prize (with a guy, Jack Szostak) for medicine. Yonath was born in Jerusalem before the founding of Israel to a family so poor they couldn’t afford books. Like generations of women scientists since the early 20 th century, she was inspired by the work of Marie Curie. Blackburn and Grieder both had mothers who were scientists-and have said how important it was to have these role models in their lives. All three women are mothers themselves. I hope the spirits of Rosalind Franklin, who was excluded from the Nobel she should have won with James Watson and Francis Crick for the discovery of DNA, and Lise Meitner , who was passed over for the prize she deserved for her work on nuclear fission, are smiling down today.

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Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic.