Despite his intellectual achievements, Rutherford, or Ern as he was called, was said to be a humble man. Physically, he was large, and quite the talker. He had a tendency to spill his tea on his waistcoat, to which wife, Mary, would proclaim, “Ern, you’re dribbling.” Mary had marched with the suffragettes in London and not surprisingly, Ern was a huge supporter of women studying the sciences. His very first research assistant, Harriet Brookes, assisted him in the discovery of radon while at McGill University in Montreal. British biochemist Marjorie Stephenson recalled meeting him when she was a young girl, where he asked her to promise she would become a scientist. She did, and became one of the first two women to be a fellow of the Royal Society. In 1920, he wrote a letter to The Times to ask his fellow academics to give women at Cambridge the same rights as men.
|Ref: AWNS-19140910-48-5, Sir George Grey Special Collections|