“Feminists and Science:Critiques and Changing Perspectives in India”

9789381345078In 2015 STREE published the first volume of a collection of essays called Feminists and Science: Critiques and Changing Perspectives in India. It has been edited by Sumi Krishna and Gita Chadha. The principle behind these two volumes of essays is to have a “more comprehensive and grounded understanding of gender and science in India”.  According to University Grants Commission (UGC) data women in medicine accounted for 44 per cent of the total, the same percentage as in the ‘arts’ ( i.e. humanities and social sciences together). Women in science made up 40 per cent, which was slightly higher than women in commerce ( 37 per cent). In the science-based professions, the ratio of women to men was about one in five: engineering 21 per cent; veterinary science 21 per cent; agriculture 17 per cent.

These are some of the statistics for India today. But this book has some fabulous essays like Mandira Sen’s “A Gender-Sensitive Practice of Psychiatry in India: The Story of Dr. Ajitha Chakraborty”, the first woman practising psychiatry in India or Sumi Krishna’s essay, “Recognizing Gender Bias in Life Sciences”. Yet the point remains that despite all these women scientists making fantastic contributions to their disciplines, gender bias and sexism exists. Mina Swaminathan points out in her essay, “Differences in gender roles are still usually ascribed to biological differences rather than social determinants, and the idea that gender relations are power relations is even harder to communicate.” ( p.218) Despite these challenges India has produced some eminent  women scientists such as Dr Janaki Ammal. ( Janaki Ammal“Remembering Dr Janaki Ammal, pioneering botanist, cytogeneticist and passionate Gandhian” by Geeta Doctor. http://scroll.in/article/730186/remembering-dr-janaki-ammal-pioneering-botanist-cytogeneticist-and-passionate-gandhian ) . She was a plant scientist, who put the sweetness into our sugarcane varieties and served as the head of the Botanical Survey of India in the isro-womenAFP1950s. Recently women scientists at ISRO were seen celebrating the successful launch of Mangalyaan mission to Mars. Read Sandip Roy’s fabulous article documenting some of the amazing Indian women scientists.  ( “Mangalyaan’s unexpected gift: The glimpse of Isro’s ‘Rocket Women'” 25 September 2015 http://bit.ly/1XqMaH9 )

Earlier this year Nobel Laureate, Tim Hunt, a biochemist, made some Tim Hunthighly inappropriate gender discriminatory remarks at a conference in South Korea, “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls,” Mr. Hunt told an audience at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea. “Three things happen when they are in the lab: You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them they cry.” Given how these gender biases towards women scientists are so deeply embedded in the system, books like Feminists and Science are very welcome.

Here is a list of contents:

Preface            xi

Introduction

Understanding Gender and Science in India:   xiii

Institutions and Beyond  Sumi Krishna

Tracking a Consciousness: Questions, Dilemmas and

Conundrums of Science Criticism in India  Gita Chadha  xxxvi

1 Feminists Discuss Caste and Gender in Science: An Online Dialogue           1

Anita Mehta, Chayanika Shah, Gita Chadha, Mary E John, Mina Swaminathan, Prajval Shastri and Sumi Krishna

2 Unravelling the ‘Gender-Merit’ Conundrum:

Do Women Deserve to Do Science in India?         22

Jayasree Subramanian

3 Re-Cognising Gender Bias in the Life Sciences        52

Sumi Krishna

4 The Science of Psychology: Where Is Gender?         79

U.Vindhya

5 Science, Gender and Reproductive Technologies: A Case of Disability      96

Anita Ghai and Rachana Johri

6 Gender Inequities in the Science World: An Experiential Perspective           122

Prajval Shastri

7 A Gender-Sensitive Practice of Psychiatry in India? The Story of Ajita Chakraborty 132

Mandira Sen

8 Women Water Professionals in the Maharashtra Water Bureaucracy 153

Seema Kulkarni

9 Women, Livestock and Rural Livelihoods: Challenges for Veterinary Scientists  185

Sagari  R. Ramdas

10 Bridging the Gap between Natural Sciences and Gender Studies: Notes on a Pedagogical Experiment 211

Mina Swaminathan

11 Integrating Gender into the Curricula of Health Professionals:  Experiences and Reflections   235  K. Sundari Ravindran

12 Teaching Feminist Science Studies in India: An Experiment 257

Chayanika Shah and Gita Chadha

13 En-Gendering Bodies of Knowledge: Scientific Institutions and the Production of Science in Science Fiction   273

Suchitra Mathur

List of Contributors  297

Table of Contents, Vol2           301

Sumi Krishna and Gita Chadha ( Eds.) Feminists and Science: Critiques and Changing Perspectives in India ( Vol 1) STREE, an imprint of Bhatkal and Sen, Kolkata, 2015. Pb. pp. 310 Rs 500 

30 November 2015 

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