Indian women Scientists who chose Lab over Kitchen slab.May 21, 2019
Women are nearly 50% of humanity. But it is a question if women are really given the chance to express their creativity, potential and individualistic ability which is actually essential for the balanced development of the society.
India rightly remarked as the land of contradictions, is known for its extremely low treatment of the average woman while it has had many powerful women in all fields, especially in Science and Technology
If you're stuck with an idea that Indian patriarchal norms have set a barrier for women to stand out on their own, it is time to change your thoughts. The following notes about the women scientists of India are sure to leave you inspired
E K Janaki Ammal (1897-1984)
Born in a humble family, E K Janaki Ammal is recognised as one of India's most intelligent botanists.
Her love for plants, ability to make painstaking and accurate observations combined with her virtues put her in various capacities including heading the Central Botanical Laboratory at Allahabad, the fellowship of Indian Academy of Sciences, service at the Centre for Advanced Study in Botany etc.
With her own definition of greatness, she stands as a role model for future science workers
Anandibai Joshi (1865-1887)
She was the first Indian woman to practice western medicine. At the age of 9, she was married to Gopal Rao Joshi who was an ardent supporter of widow remarriage and female education. Anandi had the privilege of studying Sanskrit and English under his tutorship. With the help of American missionaries, her husband found her a place in American University to study Western medicine. There she was stuck with tuberculosis but passed the exams with great difficulties. During her convocation, she was declared the first female to practice western medicine and was made in charge of the female ward in Calcutta. Unfortunately, she died of Tuberculosis the following year, at a very early age of 22.
Asima Chatterjee (1917-2006)
Being a genius in organic and medicinal chemistry, she was the first woman to receive the D.Sc of any Indian University. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan and many other honours including S S Bhatnagar award, Sir C V Raman award, Sisir K Mitra Lectureship and Dr G P Chatterjee Lectureship. She worked in several western universities on naturally occurring glycosides, biologically active alkaloids which later inspired her to conduct research on Indian medicinal plants. She became the First lady president of the Indian Science of Congress and member of Rajya Sabha.
Kamal Ranadive (1917-2001)
Kamal Samarth, born in Pune, is the founder of the Indian Women Scientist Association which aims at spreading science to masses particularly women and children. Her father, who was very specific about educating his daughters, recognized Kamal's capabilities and made her study Botany and later cytogenetics of Annonaceae for her Master’s degree. Following her marriage to Ranadive, she pursued her doctorate program under the guidance of a pathologist to receive a PhD from the University of Bombay. She was awarded the Padma Vibhushan award for her contribution in the field of leprosy and primary health care to women. IWSA hostel for working women founded by her is a centre for many women-empowering activities today.
B Vijayalakshmi (1952-1985)
Hailing from a conservative background, Vijayalakshmi B fought the gender-based restrictions to educate herself and obtain a masters from Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College, Tiruchirapalli. Diagnosed with mouth cancer at a very young age, Viji was determined about completing her research and being recognised as a physicist.
Her studies were about relativistic equations of higher spin in external electromagnetic and gravitational fields.
Her husband Jayaraman and her parents-in-law were extremely inspiring but cancerous cells spread to her hips and bones and completely immobilised her. Despite her health issues she kept contributing in non-relativistic quantum mechanics which was a novel idea of the interplay of geometry and topology. Her works were published in many scientific journals and her speech on High Energy Physics got her so much recognition. After her death, her struggle was portrayed in a documentary titled
"Vijayalakshmi: The Story of a Young Woman with Cancer,”
The power of Indian women is enormous and it is high time we realize their potential and bring the best out of them for the betterment of the Indian society.