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Indian Women in Science

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

While the presence of women in science spans the earliest times of history of science around the world, it is quite sparse in India. The first woman physics professor was Laura Bassi who earned her PhD in 1732.[1] In India, as with the rest of the world, women were excluded from most formal scientific education. It was only in the 19th century when the first women's college (Bethune College) was established in India that women had a chance to pursue a career in science. In 1883, Kadambini Ganguly and Chandramukhhi Basu became the first female graduates of India (British Empire). Post-independence, the Indian Constitution guarantees equal rights to all Indian women along with introducing various provisions to raise the social status of women in the country.[2] While a number of Indian women have held prominent positions in politics including that of the President and the Prime Minister, women remain underrepresented in the sciences. As of 2018, out of 280 thousand scientists, engineers, and technologists employed at R&D institutions in India, only 14% are women.[3]


The earliest mention of a woman engaged in the sciences appears in the 1150 treatise on mathematics, Līlāvatī by Bhāskara II. Some of the problems are addressed to a girl Lilavati, presumably his daughter, although the historicity of Lilavati isn't backed by substantial evidence. It is not clear whether the girl presented in the book was a real person or a literary device used by the author given his background as a poet and a pedagogue.[4]

Current Challenges[edit]

As of 2001, women accounted for 40% of the total enrollment in undergraduate science programs,[5] and 25-30% of the Ph.D.s in science are awarded to women.[6] While the number of women pursuing higher education has grown since 1947, attrition rates from the graduate to the professional level remains high.[3][7] In major research institutes presence of women as scientific and technical staff remained below 20% with the exception of Department of Biotechnology and Indian Council of Medical Research where the relative presence of women was 31% and 27% respectively. This was also true for the presence of women in advisory committees of various institutes which remained below 15% for most cases.[5] There is also a disparity in the fellowships awarded by national institutes: Less than 5% of the total fellowships awarded by the Indian National Science Academy and the Indian Academy of Sciences, were awarded to women as of 2004.[3][5]

Notable Women Scientists[edit]

  • Tessy Thomas is the former Project Director of the Agni VI and Agni V ballistic missiles, and is the first women scientist to head a missile project in India. At present, she is the Director General of Aeronautical Systems at DRDO. While she obtained her Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (Hyderabad) in Missile Guidance, she is the recipient of various honorary doctorates from various institutes including IIT Kanpur (2019), and Central University of Karnataka (2018).[8]


  1. "Laura Bassi | Italian scientist". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  2. "Women related law:- All compiled – Into Legal World". 2017-12-07. Archived from the original on 2017-12-07. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Apr 2, TNN / Updated; 2018; Ist, 11:40. "Only 14% of Indian researchers are women; science seen as male profession | India News - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  4. Ramaswamy, Ram; Godbole, Rohini (October 2009). "A playful side to twelfth-century mathematics". Nature. 461 (7268): 1198. Bibcode:2009Natur.461.1198R. doi:10.1038/4611198c. ISSN 1476-4687. Unknown parameter |s2cid= ignored (help)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2
  8. "Dr (Ms) Tessy Thomas | Defence Research and Development Organisation - DRDO|GoI". Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  9. "The women scientists who took India into space". BBC News. 2016-12-12. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  10. "Chandrayaan-2: India launches second Moon mission". BBC News. 2019-07-22. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  11. Nov 30, TNN / Updated; 2016; Ist, 13:08. "MOM has completed a revolution around Mars, ISRO scientist says | Aurangabad News - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  12. India, Press Trust of (2019-07-26). "University of Lucknow to honour Chandrayaan-2 director Ritu Karidhal". Business Standard India. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  13. Sci-Illustrate (2019-12-07). "Ritu Karidhal". Medium. Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  14. "Wellcome Research Laboratory - Faculty". Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  15. "A Phase III Clinical Trial to Evaluate the Protective Efficacy of Three Doses of Oral Rotavirus Vaccine (ORV) 116E - Full Text View -". Retrieved 2020-11-08.
  16. "Gagandeep Kang | Royal Society". Retrieved 2020-11-08.

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