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Trailblazers: Women in Indian Science



  Mar 07, 2024

Trailblazers: Women in Indian Science



The narrative of Indian science is enriched by women who, despite facing systemic barriers, have made significant contributions across various scientific fields. Their perseverance and achievements have paved the way for future generations, challenging stereotypes and promoting gender equality in science.

Pioneering Women and Their Contributions

1. Kamala Sohonie (1909-1998) - The first Indian woman to receive a Ph.D. in a scientific discipline from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, in 1939. Her groundbreaking work included studies on plant biochemistry and the nutritional properties of pulses.
2. Janaki Ammal (1897-1984) - A pioneering botanist and the first Indian woman to obtain a Ph.D. in botany in the UK in 1931. She made significant contributions to the study of phytogeography and cytogenetics, particularly in sugarcane and eggplants.
3. Asima Chatterjee (1917-2006) - A renowned chemist, she became the first woman to earn a doctorate in science from an Indian university in 1944. Chatterjee’s research focused on medicinal chemistry, and she made significant contributions to the development of anti-epileptic and anti-malarial drugs.
4. Rajinder Jeet Hans-Gill (Born 1939) - Noted for her contributions to mathematics, particularly in the field of number theory. Her determination in the mid-1950s to pursue mathematics led her to adopt unconventional methods to gain education in a male-dominated field.
5. Gagandeep Kang (Born 1962) - A prominent virologist and the first Indian woman to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 2019. Kang’s extensive work on rotavirus vaccines has played a crucial role in combating infant mortality due to viral infections.
6. Rohini Godbole (Born 1952) - A physicist recognized for her contributions to particle physics. Her research has provided insights into the Higgs boson particle and the standard model of particle physics.
7. Archana Sharma (1932-2008) - A cytogeneticist known for her work in plant cytogenetics and tissue culture. Her research contributed to the understanding of chromosomal behavior and genetic engineering.

Awards and Recognition

• Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize: Among the 571 awardees from 1958 to 2023, only 20 women have been honored. This prize recognizes outstanding Indian scientists for their contributions to various fields of science and technology.

The Ongoing Struggle for Equality

These women, along with many others, have not only contributed to the advancement of science but also laid the groundwork for a more inclusive and egalitarian scientific community. Their stories, often marked by overcoming prejudice and breaking through the glass ceiling, highlight the need for systemic changes to fully leverage the potential of women in science.

The celebration of these women and their accomplishments serves as a reminder of the talent that can be nurtured and harnessed when opportunities are made equally accessible, urging ongoing efforts to dismantle barriers and ensure gender equality in the scientific domain.

SRIRAM’s


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