Evening talks

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Beautiful Genius / Scientific Outsider: Hertha Ayrton and her Visit to Margate

Dr Patricia Fara, Clare College, Cambridge

22 Nov, 6.30pm

Patricia Fara is a historian of science at the University of Cambridge. She is the author of numerous books on the history of science and is a regular guest on Radio 4’s In Our Time. A past President of the British Society for the History of Science, Patricia’s areas of interest include the role of portraiture and art in the history of science, science in 18th-century Britain and the role of women in science.

‘I do not agree with sex being brought into science at all,’ the physicist Hertha Ayrton told a journalist in 1919; ‘The idea of “woman and science” is completely irrelevant. Either a woman is a good scientist, or she is not.’ A fine objective, but a hundred years later prejudice still survives and relatively few women attain the top jobs in science.  This lecture presents Ayrton’s life in two different ways, first as an intellectual heroine and then as a marginalised woman constantly struggling to enter a male-dominated realm. A close friend of Marie Skłodowska Curie, she was acclaimed for her book on electric lighting and her Margate research into ripples, yet her career petered out into obscurity. Understanding her exclusion helps to identify and hopefully eradicate discrimination against female scientists today.

Doors open at 5.30pm for viewing of the exhibition. The Caves (normal prices apply) and café will also be open 5.30-6.30pm.

Pre-booking recommended.