Saturday, January 07, 2012

Nirupama Rao's thoughts on women, gender blindness and her mathematician mother

Woman On Top: Rao with US secretary of state Clinton
INDIAN ambassador to US and 1973 batch retired IFS officer Nirupama Rao has called for more efforts to make science inclusive. Rao on Friday inaugurated the first Women Science Congress on the sidelines of the 99th Indian Science Congress (ISC) at Bhubaneshwar. Here are the excerpts of her speech on women in general, gender blindness in Indian science and her mother who solved difficult maths in her life.

Women In General
Women, as the popular saying goes, “hold up half the sky”. The Indian sky still needs many more skilled and qualified women to sustain it, and to disseminate the fruits of progress throughout the country…The image of the wise woman, the healer and nurturer who has access to the ocean of knowledge is common to many cultures.
Science Is Gender Neutral
Historical evidence and scientific research show that the pursuit of science is gender neutral. Yet, the contribution of women to technology is hidden from history. The moot point is why scientific streams remained largely male-dominated or why there are very few women members in various national science academies or in decision-making positions in scientific establishments. …We cannot afford to be charged with gender blindness in this crucial field that is so vital for India’s development.
Her Mathematician Mother
I was inspired to be an independent, professional woman by my mother who, in the year India won its independence, graduated from a college for girls in Mangalore with a first class degree in mathematics. I know 2012 is the Year of Mathematics. For me, as a little girl growing up in the fifties and sixties, mother was a fountain of knowledge and a go to person for all our math questions. And because math experts are also good at so much more, she was an expert on almost everything else. …She was the one who contextualized the story of Madame Curie for me when as a young nine year old, I read the Curie biography for the first time. Mother empowered us as a result of her own scientific temper and intellectual dimension. You educate a woman and she educates a family.

1 comment:

  1. My mother was a dumb, stupid person who never grew beyond the intelligence of a ' class five' student. And yet I hold her in my highest regard. For, what I am, I am because of her. Education of a woman has no meaning in her fostering well groomed children.