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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 10 Issue 5 (2005) pp 395-399

Triumph over Prejudice: The Election of Radiochemist Marguerite Perey (1909–1975) to the French Académie des Sciences

Jean-Pierre Adloffand George B. Kauffman*

Université Louis Pasteur,63 Rue Saint Urbain, Strasbourg, France F-67100, and Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034,

Published online: 23 September 2005

Abstract. The election of French radiochemist Marguerite Perey (1901–1975), discoverer of the heavy alkali metal francium (Atomic No. 87), the last discovered naturally radioactive element, to the Académie des Sciences in 1962, helped to overcome the traditional prejudice against women. The circumstances of her election, the reaction of the popular media to the event, including incorrect newspaper and magazine accounts of her life and achievements, and consequences of her election are recounted.

Key Words: Chemistry and History; biography; sociology of science; Nobel laureates; discoverers of elements; women chemists; feminism

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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Issue date: October 1, 2005

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