Agar (Jon)

MT: Jon Agar "Thatcher, Scientist" [study of MT’s scientific career & approach to science policy]

Document type: Press
Source: Notes & Records of the Royal Society (Notes Rec. R. Soc. doi:10.1098/rsnr.2010.0096)
Editorial comments: 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
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 18pp
Themes: Autobiography (marriage & children), Executive, Higher & further education, Science & technology