Spotlight on women scientists

In focus:Volunteers at the Wikipedia Edit-a-thon in Bengaluru on Saturday.— Photo: Special Arrangement  

Sandhya S. Visweswariah, chairperson of the Department of Molecular Reproduction, Development and Genetics, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), has several laurels to her name. She has 95 publications in peer-reviewed journals and five book chapters to her credit.

On Saturday, she earned another feather in her cap, when volunteers created a wiki page on her during the Wikipedia Edit-a-thon held at IISc to increase the representation of Indian women in science.

Dr. Visweswariah was happy to join an august pantheon of Indian women scientists profiled on Wikipedia, ranging from Rajeshwari Chatterjee, possibly the first woman engineer from Karnataka, to Janaki Ammal, a pioneering botanist known for her work on sugarcane, who obtained a D.Sc. from the University of Michigan, U.S., in 1931. “I expect that it will make it easy for people to find information on me as it will be the first result that turns up on search engines,” she told The Hindu.

On Saturday, around 25 volunteers created and updated profiles of prominent women scientists such as neuroscientist Vidita Vaidya of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, and Rashna Bhandari, whose work on bio-molecules could help develop a drug that reduces blood clotting. A Wikipedia page was created in English and Oriya on Soumita Das, reportedly the first woman engineer from Orissa.

Blogger Parul Thakur, who participated in this year’s event, says lack of citations online made it hard to validate entries for many women scientists from the country. “The lack of online presence makes it hard for Wikipedians like me to contribute. That said, even one article created helps further the cause of increasing exposure to women in science,” she said.

While the numbers of women in science and technology are growing, very few occupy senior academic roles. “Women in STEM need to find mentors who can guide them. Visibility is essential and the online medium can be a great resource today,” said Madhurima Das, a research consultant with IISc.

Science outreach initiative IndiaBioscience, based out of the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, is behind the initiative. The first two events were held in October 2014 and an online-only event was held in August last year.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 7:41:45 AM |

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