FINDING NORI —How an unpaid UK researcher saved the Japanese seaweed industry
After crops failed, botanist Kathleen Drew-Baker realized that nori wasn’t what it seemed.
ESTHER INGLIS-ARKELL – 11/19/2017, 8:41 AM
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Fortunately, on an island at the other end of Eurasia, Kathleen Drew-Baker had recently gotten fired. She had been a lecturer in botany at the University of Manchester where she studied algae that reproduced using spores rather than flowers. But the university did not employ married women. So when she got married to fellow academic Henry Wright-Baker she was kicked off the faculty and relegated to a job as an unpaid research fellow.
Drew-Baker focused on a type of nori unfamiliar to nearly everyone: Porphyra umbilicalis. It’s a leafy seaweed that grows off the coast of Wales. Locals harvest it, grind it up, and use it to make bread or soup. Known colloquially as laver, it’s still eaten in Britain but has not attained the international standing of nori.
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Thanks to her many discoveries, Drew-Baker’s career thrived, too. Despite being fired for getting married, she became the first elected president of the British Phycological Society in 1952. Today, Drew-Baker is known in Japan as “the mother of the sea,” and every year a festival is held in her honor in Uto City.
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First, what a bunch of dummies — men — who make a rule against “employing married women”.
Second, what a great demonstration of the “lemons and lemonade” mandate to action.
Third, what a fantastic illustration of the value of “female human resources”.
I certainly hope that folks will take these lessons to heart. And, we should </sarcasm> “thank” <sarcasm/> those countries and societies that keep “their” women “barefoot, uneducated, and pregnant”. Nothing like trying to compete on the world stage with literally half your human resources tied behind your collective backs.
“Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.” — Robert A. Heinlein
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