Mar 22, 2017

Three Indian science journals feature special sections authored by women scientists

BYPankaj Mishra

Three Indian scientific journals are featuring, for the first time since their inception, special sections on women scientists to highlight their work and encourage younger counterparts to take up active scientific careers.
Centred on International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11) and International Women’s Day on March 8, an all-female authorship is the focus of a special section (forthcoming issue) of Current Science journal and the March issue of Resonance (published by the Indian Academy of Sciences) and Physics News (Indian Physics Association publication).
The articles also highlight the fact that “very few women are recipients of awards and honours, and the general public remains unaware of their work.”
Researchers Prajval Shastri and Sudeshna Mazumdar-Leighton, guest editors of the Resonance issue, write in the editorial that “such a special issue should not have been necessary.”
Expanding on the gender gap in sciences and other arenas, they note: “Science faculty in Indian universities, (i.e., trained science PhDs) have about 45% women.”
“Yet, this fraction is not matched in elite research institutions, in institutional leadership, in awards and honours, and also, it turns out, in the authorship of Resonance, which is under 16% even over the last three years.”
The Resonance edition is oriented towards the physical sciences as the field “has a very large gender gap,” say the guest editors.
Resonance showcases Lise Meitner, an “extraordinary physicist who discovered nuclear fission and the world has never been the same since. Sadly, for Meitner, like for many scientists of her time and after who happened to be women, acknowledgement was far from proportional to their contributions to humanity.”
Current Science (launched in 1932) features young Indian women scientists and also includes a short paragraph about them to highlight their career graph.
“Even though the recent successes of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have brought the achievements of its women scientists to the forefront, other than Tessy Thomas, the others remain unknown. This special section is a small attempt towards redressing this situation, by focusing on the work of young women scientists,” write guest editors Sulabha Kulkarni and Neelima Gupte in the preface.
“We therefore hope that this attempt to showcase good scientific work by young women scientists, will not only be encouraging to women researchers, but will also be seen as a good initiative to encourage and bring to the force the work of women scientists,” they say.

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Pankaj Mishra is a writer of FactorDaily.