Dr. T. Girija, scientist at the College of Horticulture under the Kerala Agricultural University, was twice unlucky, but she has no regrets.

Participating in an interactive programme organised by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) here on Wednesday, the former Young Scientist award winner recalled how she had twice missed the bus to a foreign university for research.

“Once I had the opportunity to go to the U.K. for research but had to forgo the chance due to various compulsions. I completed my research at Bangalore instead. Family responsibilities prevented me from taking up a research assignment in the Netherlands at a later stage in my career,” said Dr. Girija who works on the phytochemistry of weed control. “My responsibilities as a mother held me back but I have no regrets. I derive satisfaction from my job.”

Women, she said, have a different approach to a problem. Unlike men, they look at the little things also which help them gain a different perspective.

As many as 26 women who were former winners of the Young Scientist award instituted by the Kerala Science Congress turned up for the programme organised by the Women Scientists' Cell of the KSCSTE. Many of them recounted how family responsibilities and other compulsions prevented them from taking up higher studies and research abroad. But most felt that they faced no difficulties or discrimination in working with their male counterparts.

Dr. K.G. Thara, faculty head, Institute of Land and Disaster Management who won the Young Scientist award in 1993 for her paper on the origin of the Palakkad gap, said disaster management offered immense scope for women scientists. She stressed the need for women researchers to focus on recycling of waste materials.

Dr. Kamalakshan Kokkal, joint-director, KSCSTE, chaired the technical session. Dr. R.V.G. Menon and Planning Board member Mridul Eapen offered felicitations to the women scientists.

Climate change

Inaugurating the programme, Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy called upon women scientists in Kerala to come forward to contribute to research on the impact of climate change, elimination of plastic waste and drinking water scarcity. She said the increase in the number of cancer cases in Kuttanad necessitated research to identify the cause.

Dr. K.R. Lekha, Head, Women Scientists' Cell; Dr. Laly A. Pothan, winner of the Dr. S. Vasudev award, Kerala Science Congress – 2010; and Dr. P.G. Latha, scientist, Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute, were present.

Students from various schools and colleges also attended and interacted with the scientists.

Dr. Lekha said the day-long programme was organised with the objective of preparing a database on ‘ Women Achievers in Science in the State of Kerala.' “The database will provide a platform for students to continue their interaction with the scientists. Thereby they develop a passion for science and are motivated to take up science as a challenging profession,” she said.