Recorded: 20 Feb 2001
She was certainly extremely supportive of young women in science and had, I think, an important role, [as a] role model, if you will, for many of these people. But, at the same time, she really—where she got really excited about science—that sort of thing became less important. She wasn't beating the drum for one movement or another; she was much more concerned about individuals. She was always very excited when a young woman would go into science, and she would be very encouraging and supportive, and try to make sure that they developed their own individual sense of their own science, but really it was the science that excited her more than anything else. So, I don't know. It's hard to say. Historians have tended to interpret her as ... one of the first women to really promote women in science. I think that's probably an exaggeration. Although she was very enthusiastic about it, she wasn't really a sort of browbeating person who was trying to force anything to happen. So I don't know. That's how I felt about it, but that's just my opinion.
Rob Martienssen is a plant molecular geneticist and professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. from Cambridge University in 1986 and did postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley.
As a young scientist, he worked closely with Barbara McClintock. He currently studies plant epigenetics and development using functional genomics. He was awarded the Kumho International Science Award in Plant Biology and Biotechnology (2001).