"The Real Problem, Then, Was Rosy"

50 years later, Harriet A. Washington at Ms. debunks two popular explanations for Rosalind Franklin’s snubbing by the Nobel Committee in 1962, starting with the most frequently cited: that she was dead when the prize was awarded.

She was dead in 1962 when the DNA triumvirate received the Prize, but why was it awarded a full nine years after the discovery of DNA’s structure was reported in Nature? Today this delay sounds reasonable, because now, the committee has come to award discoveries that have withstood test of time. However the rules of Franklin’s era indicated that the award was in recognition of discoveries made “during the preceding year.” Had this rule been adhered to, the Prize would have been awarded in 1954, when Franklin was still alive.

Reading between the lines, it seems improbable that anyone deliberately excluded Franklin; more likely the pervasive sexism of the scientific community simply made it unlikely that anyone would think to include her.