Page 30 - ScienceIndia Magazine March 2021
P. 30

         Dr Godbole speaking at a conference
(AI) for various research areas of social science, it is very important to have di- verse participation. An example is a face recognition programme which worked with only 30% efficiency when tried on African American women, because the input used was white Caucasian males.
How can the government help? And how can the society help women in science?
I object to the use of the word ‘help women in science’. All the efforts that one suggests to increase the participa- tion of women in science is not just to help women but also to have a better sci- entific ecosystem. This has been realised by our policy makers now and I am happy that ‘Equity and Inclusion’ has become a separate topic of discussion in STIP 2020 (Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020).
Various steps that the government can take in this respect had been out- lined in the report of the DST Task Force for Women in Science released in 2005 as well as in many more studies
that came after it. Some schemes were started even before any studies, as the need was very obvious. Many schemes exist for women to come back to science after a break. Flexible timings as well as long maternity breaks, retraining, schemes to be able to continue the ca- reer even with the change in husband’s workplace have been suggested as well as implemented. Special efforts are be- ing made to increase participation of girl students in institutions like the IITs. However, I call most of these solutions as sticking plaster solutions. It is impor- tant for policy makers and the society alike to realise that just as a career in science is important for women, women too are important to science. I believe this realisation will go a long way in cur- ing the invisible bias that women suffer in science.
Many good measures, such as consideration of academic age rather than physical age for hiring as well as promotions, gender neutral paternity leave rather than maternity leave, good
creches at work place, etc. are now sug- gested in the STIP 2020.
What prompted the anthology Lilavati’s Daughters, the book you co-edited with Ram Ramaswamy?
I was asked by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics to present a talk about my experience of being a woman physicist in India, at the first International Conference on Women in Physics around 2001. There were, may- be, nine or 10 plenary talks in the con- ference. In the tea break after my talk, women from countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Ghana and so on, came to me and said they could relate to what I said in a much better way than the western counterparts. This is when I realised that young students of India needed to know about women scien- tists who grew up and trained/worked in science in India and achieved a mea- sure of success. In addition to the wildly impressive and inspiring stories of Ma- rie Curie, Dorothy Hodgkin, etc, our young ones need to know that while it is true very few (women) scientists can reach the dizzy heights of accomplish- ments and contributions to science to match those of the famous women who lived in a different kind of world and times, it is possible to have a fruitful and satisfying career in science for a person growing in India in current times. We (with my co-editor Prof Ram Ramas- wamy) felt that a collection of stories of these Indian women scientists would serve to inspire many young women to think of a career in science and tell them what helps/what hinders the progress.
What would you say to women who aspire to take up science as a full-time career?
Do not let others convince you what you can or cannot, or what you may or may not do. One should choose one’s own path and march to one’s own tune. You are the best judge of your own abili- ties. Choose wisely and choose for your- self. Then no obstacle is too hard and no journey too difficult. Our dreams can only be limited by our imagination.
*The writer is Associate Editor, Science India.
        Image Courtesy: Dr Rohini Godbole

   28   29   30   31   32