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Why does the proportion of women in science drop as we go up the ladder? What do Indian women in science need to be able to pursue their passion? A very special team, the Labhoppers, is finding out.
Meet the LabHoppers – Aashima Dogra and Nandita Jayaraj. Yes, you heard it right. Labhoppers. These science communicators are on a special mission to solve the mystery about where women in science are! It is pretty intriguing to think about it. Science rarely makes it to the news as it is unless it is a pretty big event and even then, it is still a pretty male dominated field. Where have the women scientists gone? Why do so many women in science drop out of the system, or move on to other avenues?
Aashima and Nandita have travelled the length and breadth of this country looking for stories about women researchers – what motivated them to do what they do, the challenges they have faced and what got them through their tough times. They have already conducted some odd 30 interviews that have been published on their website, The Life of Science. These have given wonderful insights into what a life of science is all about; especially from the perspective of a woman.
What’s more, to realize their goal of actually travelling to all the parts of the country and reaching out to more women, they used a crowdfunding campaign and got people engaged with the subject. Their travel has been funded through this crowdfunding campaign – a creative use of the digital medium to explore some much-needed subjects.
Their studies start from the very basic – why do women feel the need to drop out of a life of academics? According to research quoted by them, only 9% of the total scientists engaged in research in Delhi institutes were women while 25-30% of PhD students are women. So, why this disparity? As the levels increase why does the percentage of women in the field drop?
From their interviews certain patterns have emerged. Most of the women considered family support indispensable on their journey. From childhood itself, a lot of importance was given to knowledge and studies. After growing up, understanding also stemmed from husband-wife teams working together as academicians or was felt in the form of tension free childcare from in-laws/parents. As we can see, family has often played a pivotal role in the decision making processes.
The most beautiful part about The Life of Science project is that they are trying to bring back Science to Life for the mainstream. Their interviews are to feature on other popular magazines as well and are to be converted into regional languages to be read in the local media sources. They are also trying to popularize the series by developing comics or creating podcasts.
I believe that such projects will have far reaching effects. It will give little children the real life heroes they need. This project is also a very interesting combination of the two fields of science and journalism. It just goes to show how much there is yet to be achieved and how it can be done only by channeling one’s interests creatively.
21. Capricorn. Curious. Love to learn. Love to write. Figuring out life. read more...
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As he stood in front of his door, Nishant prayed that his wife would be in a better mood. The baby thing was tearing them apart. When was the last time he had seen his wife smile?
Veena got into the lift. It was a festival day, and the space was crammed with little children dressed in bright yellow clothes, wearing fancy peacock feather crowns, and carrying flutes. Janmashtami gave her the jitters. She kept her face down, refusing to socialize with anyone.
They had moved to this new apartment three months ago. The whole point of shifting had been to get away from the ruthless questioning by ‘well-wishers’.
“You have been married for ten years! Why no child yet?”
I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
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