Sydney Brenner on Women in Science: American Sensitivity to Gender Equity
  Sydney Brenner     Biography    
Recorded: 10 Jun 2002

Well, I think—no, I think Americans are now stepping over backwards, you see, because I think this whole, you see, this whole area—I mean for example, the whole business of sexual harassment has now come to occupy everybody.

When I first heard about it, I was in Scripps Institute. And so I wrote a letter saying, “I was very pleased to get your letter about sexual harassment. Could you tell me where I can apply for some? I haven’t had any for a long time and I’m pleased to know it’s now available.” And this lady administrator came down and said—they didn’t know how to take a joke, but basically, I think that that is—I think there’s a lot of artificiality in that whole sort of structure, and I think it’s just everybody should be treated as a person basically.

Sydney Brenner is a pioneer in the field of molecular biology. He was born in South Africa in 1927 and received his Ph.D. from Oxford University in 1954. From 1979 to 1986 he served as Director of the Medical Research Council Laboratory for Molecular Biology and from 1986 to 1991, as the Director of the Medical Research Council Laboratory Molecular Genetics Unit, both in Cambridge, England.

Since 1996 he has been the President and Director of Science at the Molecular Sciences Institute in La Jolla and Berkeley. Brenner was honored as a Distinguished Research Professor at the Salk Institute in La Jolla in 2000.

In 2002 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine with Dr. John Sulston and Dr. Robert Horvitz “for their discoveries concerning ‘genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death’” studying the organism C. elegans.