Danielle Teller writes, "Have you ever heard of Rosalind Franklin? Probably not. But you certainly know of James Watson and Francis Crick.
They won a Nobel Prize for describing the structure of DNA, a discovery they wouldn’t have made if they hadn’t seen Rosalind Franklin’s x-ray photograph of the DNA double helix. She was also kind enough to explain why their original model made no sense from a chemistry perspective, and she told them how to fix it. Whether the two men stole Franklin’s data is debatable, but at minimum, she deserves as much credit for the discovery of DNA structure as Watson and Crick. It seems that she was a much better scientist than self-promoter, however, and her male colleagues did not feel compelled to share the glory.
Franklin was not the first and certainly won’t be the last woman to be cheated out of credit for her work. She might have been denied recognition even if she had been a man. Sadly, however, research shows that even in the 21st century, women in a range of disciplines are seen as less competent and less deserving of praise than male counterparts.
'Lean in!' Sheryl Sandberg says to women. That’s probably excellent advice, if being aggressive, self-aggrandizing, and unafraid to bite off more than you can chew is what it takes to succeed. The problem for many of us, though, is that such a change would require a personality transplant. Even if it were possible to change ourselves so radically, we like being generous team players and mentors. We like being considerate to others and modest about our accomplishments. We think we’re pretty great the way we are, thank you very much.
The workplace should think we’re pretty great the way we are too. Companies with the most women on their board of directors financially outperform those with the fewest women on their boards. A study by Dow Jones (pdf) focused on venture-backed startups found that odds for success increase with more female executives at the vice president and director levels; the median proportion of female executives at successful companies was more than double that at unsuccessful ones. Another study showed that for firms with innovation-oriented strategies, the presence of a woman in top management amounts to creating extra market value of about $44 million (pdf). Women may not get much credit for their work, but it cannot be denied that they add a great deal of value."