February 11th is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, launched in 2015.
But wonder why there is a need to allot a specific day for women’s contribution to science. It was launched to bring women from shadows to spotlights, to raise awareness of, and achieve gender parity. In education and scientific participation of women and girls in the world. While there has been positive progress, according to UNESCO, just 30% of researchers globally are female.
Excellence springs from many sources, but women scientists have to work a little bit harder to move from the margins to the centre. Whenever you hear ‘female scientist’, the most common name which pops in our heads is Kalpana Chawla or Marie Curie, is this because we know a lot about them or we are not yet aware of other females in this field like we are about Newton or Einstein?
Kalpana Chawla was the first Indian woman to have forayed into space, but it was only possible because of the confidence and hard work which she invested in her goals. Marie Curie researched with her husband but the reason we know her and not her husband is because she paved her way through the margins. Do we know about the first Indian women physicist, her name was Anandibai Goplrao Joshi. Joshi was married at an age of nine, gave birth to a son at 14 who soon died because of lack of medical facilities. Moved by this she decided to study medicine. She went abroad and studied at the Women’s Medical College at University of Pennsylvania.
Aditi Pant, a successful oceanographer, was the first Indian woman to visit Antarctica in 1983 as a part of an Indian expedition to study geology and oceanography. She has worked at the national institute of oceanography and contributed immensely to the ocean research community. Other women like Janaki Ammal, who was the first woman to have received The Padma Shree Award in 1977. Rajeshwari Chatterjee, Asima Chatterjee were also great contributors to science and technology.
Now you must be wondering why you don’t know much about these wonderful women as much as we know about the great mathematicians and scientists who are male. This is only because of the ‘act of perception’ which the society shows towards various fields. After all, determination and hard work are the two main factors which these women always preached and were able to become the spotlights from the shadows.
I hope that their achievements will inspire many other aspiring researchers so that at some point. We don’t need a specific prize or day for women scientists and innovators. Because the opportunities, rewards and recognition will be neutral in the not-so-distant future.
Know your Author!!