Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Women in Science

Recently there were reports (e.g. here) in the news about bias against women in science in the US. That was somewhat surprising to me; I thought the social conditions here were so much better that something like that would be unheard of. May be that partly explains why there is just one women professor in my department. I assume the situation for women in India, not only in science, but in all other careers is surely worse.

Many suggest that women may lack the ability to undertake careers such as science. I believe that may not be the case; afterall, we are all human and there is no reason to think that the genders are differently endowed. Also, we simply lack any evidence to support the argument about the lack of ability in women. Women have never been evaluated in the same social conditions as men.

Social realities for women are drastically different for women in India compared to men. As far as I know the most important reason for this is child birth and rearing. Women usually become mothers in the beginning stages of their career and it is not hard to imagine how incredibly difficult the simultaneous tasks of both managing their careers and their homes must be. Even more so when their careers are demanding like the sciences and engineering.

For rural women and women from the poorer classes in India, the challenges are much more complex. Much more complex for me to even begin to understand what the issues are.

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