Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Women in science...

Disclaimer: This might be controversial, and might get me into a soup...

A minor discussion with N this evening got me thinking of the role of women in science. Off the top of their head, most people think of Marie Curie and her daughter. I guess most Indians would go for Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, some probably for Kalpana Chawla.

But much before Ms. Shaw or Ms. Chawla graced the face of this earth, there was a lady called Kamala Sohonie. I remember reading this article about how she 'overcame the Raman effect'.

"When Sohonie applied for postgraduate degree, after completing her graduation from Bombay University in 1933, Raman summarily dismissed her application despite her having topped the university merit list that year. And the reason: Sohonie happened to be a woman!"

Thankfully the great man changed his mind about women in science after she graduated from Cambridge! She became the first Indian woman to receive a doctoral degree in the sciences, a stellar achievement undoubtedly considering the roadblocks she must have faced in those days (the 1930s).

How much the world has changed since then. But I wonder how many folks have heard of Dr. Sohonie. All rise and pay tribute to the grand old lady of Indian science - if I might call her so.

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