A bust of Mary Somerville and portrait of Dorothy Hodgkin (1928, Chemistry) are due to receive greater prominence in the London headquarters of the Royal Society, part of a move signalling the Society’s intention to take greater notice of the achievements of women scientists.
“The Royal Society’s Council discussed plans around updating the portraiture just this week as we are very keen to make the imagery more inclusive, and not just with regard to gender,” said Professor Dame Athene Donald FRS, who championed the scheme. Professor Donald is Master of Churchill College, Cambridge.
“The bust of Mary Somerville, and the recently unveiled sculpture of Lucie Green’s head, created by Marcus Cornish, are both being moved close to the entrance to the building,” she said. “This long term project is something I am sure the newly formed diversity committee, under the chairmanship of Uta Frith, will be keeping a close eye on.”
Mary Somerville, after whom this College is named, was a scientist and science writer who brought the crucial work of Pierre-Simon Laplace to a wider British audience with her translation of Mécanique Céleste (Mechanism of the Heavens). To read more about her life and work, see the 2015 Somerville Magazine.
Dorothy Hodgkin’s discoveries in crystallography led to her receipt of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1964. She remains the only British woman to receive a Nobel Prize for science. In 2014 Somerville produced a booklet, Crystal Vision, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of her Nobel Prize. Somerville hosted a Dorothy Hodgkin Symposium in 2014 as part of the celebrations.
Articles about the Royal Society’s decision appeared in The Herald and The Sunday Times.