Mumbai school students give novel push to celebrate Scientific Woman
Science is often considered a male-dominated field, even though women have made significant strides in science. Here are two city school students who appear committed to celebrating the achievements of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and helping them come out of the shadows of anonymity. Barkha Seth and Kshitig Seth, students of Dhirubhai Ambani International School, have launched their own platform The Scientific Woman to recognize the accomplishments of women in the fields of STEM. In an attempt to inspire young girls, the new age students explained, the novel website www.thescientificwoman.com not only shares the stories of these women achievers but also offers a mentorship programme where students can seek professional guidance from them. The sibling duo showed an immense passion for their independent, non-profit project. "I often felt the lack of girls in my physics class in school. Even when girls chose to pursue science, more opted for biology and medicine than engineering or physics," said Barkha. In an independent survey conducted by the duo, they found that of the girls planning to pursue STEM, only 25 per cent wished to take up engineering as compared to the 75 per cent wanting to pursue Medicine and Allied fields. "We hope we can inspire young girls to feel the same joy as we do from science and contribute towards breaking this trend," said Kshitig. Chanda Nimbkar, Director of the Animal Husbandry Division at Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute and mentor of this project, said, "The Scientific Woman initiative is absolutely wonderful. It is sure to inspire girls and boys wishing to pursue a scientific career. It also makes available the rare opportunity for these young students to have as their mentor, one of these eminent scientists from the field they are interested in." The unique website displays women from varying fields in science, including researchers, professors, engineers, technical writers, mathematicians and more. The women interviewed which includes renowned names such as Dr. Gagandeep Kang and Dr. Sujatha Ramdorai have demonstrated great enthusiasm towards the launch of this website, noted the Seth duo. "Barkha's experience of being in a minority in a science class led her insight about the need to show that women can be and are scientists, teachers and researchers. Her passion and commitment towards The Scientific Woman website show that she is already has all the attributes of a scientist," said Gagandeep Kang, Medical Researcher and Clinical Scientist and former Executive Director of the Translational Health Sciences and Technology Institute under the Ministry of Science and Technology's Department of Biotechnology who played a critical role in the development of the indigenous rotavirus vaccine. "All the women were extremely supportive and we are so grateful for the opportunity to hear their stories and learn from them," said Barkha. The inclusion of women in science is an ongoing process and The Scientific Woman acts as a catalyst. It's heartening to see young students taking matters into their own hands towards creating a more equal future, they added. "The presence of women in science spans the earliest times of the history of science wherein they have made significant contributions. However, they faced many barriers to have their work peer-viewed and accepted across the globe. In this view, the initiative taken by the two students and the efforts they put to create a tangible platform for encouraging women and highlighting their feats are one-of-its-kind, which needs wholesome support from society to help such initiatives achieve its ultimate objective," said Lalmoni, a senior scientist at the Indian Space Research Organisation.