How have the generations of women in your family changed, from one generation to the next?
This is my grandmother, Eva Richards (née Vago), also a scientist. She came as a refugee to the UK in 1938. She wanted to study physics, but the lecturers refused to teach women; instead she studied chemistry. She wrote a DPhil but never handed it in: by then a mother, it didn’t seem relevant. She was offered a job in a UK defence establishment, but later the offer was revoked because they did not have bathroom facilities for women. Despite these challenges she found her way, and became the Tutor in Chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford. She carried out pioneering work in infra-red spectroscopy, then a new analytical tool in molecular sciences. Amongst her tutees are many women scientists and scientifically-literate women in public life.
Professor Susan Perkin is Fellow and Tutor in Physical Chemistry at Trinity College.