Barbara McClintock Revolutionizes Genetics, But No One Notices Until A Man Makes The Same Discoveries
Here's the good news: When Barbara McClintock revolutionized science's understanding of genetics, no one stole credit for her work. The bad news: That's only because nobody even acknowledged it in the first place.
At the University Of Missouri, McClintock discovered that chromosomes can break and then repair themselves, a process which frequently leads to mutation. Despite her talent, she was regularly excluded from staff meetings and denied advancement.
University of Missouri
"Sorry, the fire marshal said too many vaginas in the meeting hall is a safety hazard."
Realizing she would never progress at the University Of Missouri, she took an opening at the Carnegie Institution in New York instead. It was there, at the Cold Spring Harbor research facility, that she would revolutionize genetics. It was there, at the Cold Spring Harbor research facility, that nobody would give a lukewarm damn about her silly womantalk.
Up until this point, geneticists strictly adhered to Mendelian genetics -- where it was thought that parents pass on genes to their offspring via chromosomes that are immutably locked. That means a parent passes on chromosomes just as they received them from their parents, and so on. Sort of the genetic equivalent of a Madden game.
How She Got Screwed Out Of History:
In 1948, McClintock turned this idea on its head: She discovered that certain parts of chromosomes could swap genes.
National Museum of American History
This corn came from a pork chop and a carrot .
It was revolutionary! In the sense that other scientists' fingers completed several revolutions as they made the "whoop de doo" gesture. In fact, Sewall Wright straight up told her she must have done the math wrong. Never mind that McClintock was an award-winning geneticist with a Ph.D., and willing to immediately divulge her research for his review. For years following her discovery, McClintock toured universities, lecturing on her findings, and wrote letters and papers to scientific journals -- all to no avail.