For every Marie Curie or Rosalind Franklin whose story has been told, hundreds of female scientists remain unknown to the public at large. In this series, we illuminate the lives and work of a diverse array of groundbreaking scientists who, because of time, place and gender, have gone largely unrecognized. Each season we focus on a different scientist, putting her narrative into context, explaining not just the science but also the social and historical conditions in which she lived and worked. We also bring these stories to the present, painting a full picture of how her work endures.
In 1925, a young anthropologist named Margaret Mead traveled to Samoa to explore the impact of cultural factors on adolescent development. In her subsequent book Coming of Age in Samoa, Mead described teenagers who were free to explore and express their sexuality. The book struck a chord with readers in the U.S., became a bestseller, and Mead skyrocketed to fame. But what were her actual methods and motivations? This episode traces Mead’s legendary nine-month stay in the South Pacific.