Kuhu Chawla is currently pursuing Engineering from UIET,Panjab University,Chandigarh. She is a writer in PU Pulse, a student run e-newspaper in Panjab University Chandigarh.She wrote this essay for an inter college competition by Hindu College Delhi University.
Women of Science
The field of science has been blessed with the presence of women for over a hundred years, though it remains a largely unacknowledged fact. It has seen the contributions of the female mind which has brought a new perspective at how the world is looked at. This recognition that women can also excel in the world of science was not a simple task. Women had to face a lot of restrictions to gain recognition in the field.
The gender stereotype that women cannot work in an intellectual field prevailed not only in India but also in the west. In earlier times if a woman practiced medicine she was termed as a ‘witch’, said to be abnormal, bashed and isolated by the society. The mere thought of an educated woman was frowned upon. This mindset, however, did not stop women from presenting their ideas to the world.
When Laura Bassi became the first salaried woman professor after defending her forty-nine theses in public, she made a firm statement to the world that women can and will hold a presence in the field of
science. She paved the way for women to enter the field and excel. The mindset though did not drastically change. But it did ignite a spark in the society. This spark travelled to India where it led to the birth of the first Indian female doctor, Dr. Anandibai Joshi who with the support of her husband went to the United States to get her medical degree. Anandibai was led on the path of medical research curiosity in when she lost her child merely 10 days after giving birth to it. The inspiration she gave to the Indian women quite transcended her personal painful experience.
Even after witnessing women scientists like the Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie, women who exhibited an interest in science were termed as ‘different’. Rosalind Franklin was termed as ‘alarmingly clever’ by her aunt just because she had fun doing mathematics. Botanist Kamala Sohonie was denied entry into the Indian Institute of Science in the 1930s because of her gender on the grounds that she will cause a ‘distraction’ in the laboratory by Nobel Prize winner C.V. Raman.
This stereotype can be seen anywhere, even in the comics and cartoons the character of a scientist, engineer, doctor or an inventor was always a boy. In the 21st century itself boys have always been regarded as the curious ones. Although women have started taking interest in careers related to science but there
are very few women who professionally develop a career in the field. The women who do are still burdened by the society to take care of things at home and work both and are discouraged to get too involved in their field. If a woman is too aggressive in her field she is termed as rude and not feminine enough. Women are not expected to voice out their opinions and if they do, they have to be snubbed, or so the world seems to think. And then they dared to persist.
Kalpana Chawla,Ritu Karidhal,Aditi Pant,Tessy Thomas, Bimla Buti, Chandrima Saha, Muthayya Vanitha, Gagandeep Kang, Mangala Narilkar, Kamakshi Sivarmakrishnan, Chandrima Shaha,Indira Hinduja,,Paramjeet Khurana,Sunetra Gupta,Nandini Harinath,Rohini Godbole are a just a few notable Indian women in the field.No wonder then that today the biggest power in the world entrusts the launch of its most ambitious project – the mission to Mars to a woman! and the fact that Dr. Swati Mohan happens to be an Indian-American adds to our pride even more.