'Marie Curie effect' hits football

24 January 2011

Exactly 100 years after Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie was denied entry to the French Academy of Sciences by the male establishment because of her gender - a woman's role in a supposed man's world is again under the spotlight.

Commenting on the Sian Massey furore, Ruth Doyle, director of communications at the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: "This young woman has been the victim of the 'Marie Curie effect' - where women who make it to the top in a male-dominated environment are pilloried for their gender. In an astonishing coincidence, Marie Curie was barred from the French Academy of Sciences 100 years ago to the day that we hear about Sian Massey being attacked publicly."
On January 24 1911, Marie Curie appeared at the French Academy of Sciences for a vote on her membership. The academy president, opening the voting at the meeting, said very loudly to the ushers: "Let everybody come in, women excepted." Marie Curie missed being elected by one vote. 

Within months she won her second Nobel Prize - this time in chemistry having won her first in physics. In Britain she was warmly welcomed by the chemistry community.

"2011 is the International Year of Chemistry - because it is 100 years since Marie Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry," added Ruth. "Unfortunately, women at the peak of a male-dominated profession are still coming under attack for sexist reasons. But like Marie Curie, Sian Massey will no doubt go on to great things and be another female pioneer."

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