Margaret Thatcher


Thanks to Allegra Swyfte for the heads up!  In May 2011, The Notes and Record of the Royal Society published a piece by Jon Agar called “Thatcher, Scientist.”  The full text is available for free here.  The photo above is from the article, which says it is a publicity photograph taken for the 1951 election campaign.

Here’s the abstract:

This paper has two halves. First, I piece together what we know about Margaret Thatcher’s training and employment as a scientist. She took science subjects at school; she studied chemistry at Oxford, arriving during World War II and coming under the influence (and comment) of two excellent women scientists, Janet Vaughan and Dorothy Hodgkin. She did a fourth-year dissertation on X-ray crystallography of gramicidin just after the war. She then gathered four years’ experience as a working industrial chemist, at British Xylonite Plastics and at Lyons. Second, my argument is that, having lived the life of a working research scientist, she had a quite different view of science from that of any other minister responsible for science. This is crucial in understanding her reaction to the proposals—associated with the Rothschild reforms of the early 1970s—to reinterpret aspects of science policy in market terms. Although she was strongly pressured by bodies such as the Royal Society to reaffirm the established place of science as a different kind of entity—one, at least at core, that was unsuitable to marketization—Thatcher took a different line.

Margaret Thatcher’s granddaughter Amanda Thatcher spoke at her funeral.

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