Monday, March 25, 2013

Need of Support for Women Scientists to Work from Home

Mamata Mishra
Department of Sociology
School of Social Sciences
University of Hyderabad

In India woman is appreciated on the name of Rani Laxmibai and on the other side is always a victim of patriarchy. Let’s speak about woman on this occasion of world TB Day.  Although some locations in this nation still observe child marriage till date, in this same nation we have witnessed many women who have crossed the ordinary boundary of the world. For instance Rani Laxmibai, Mother Teresa, Indira Gandhi, P.T. Usha, Kalpana Chawla, Lata Mangeshkar, Kiran Bedi, Bachendri Pal, Priya Jhingan, Harita Kaur Deol, Karnam Malleswari, Asima Chatterjee and so on. There is probably no area or field where women have not gained excellence.
Science is one of the key elements of an advanced society. Broadly speaking, science and technological advancement is a sign of the growth and development of a nation. The more advanced the science and technology area is, the more advanced a nation is. Coming to the under-graduation and graduation level, women[1] candidates are performing well in science education. In fact, if we look at higher studies, they even do better, but what happens after that stage? How many out of them are really able to proceed further in their career? Do they select career and job according to their qualification? What are the possible reasons behind this? The main reason according to me, is, age factor. By the time they complete their higher studies, they will reach the age of marriage. In many cases, she is forced to get married before she completes her education. Alarm will start ringing each second to get ready for marriage and leave the career at the back door. How many of these women stand firm and go ahead according to their willingness? After giving so much of effort, if her talent could not be utilized properly, then why did she study and come this far? Or can we say the other way like why her parents allowed her to study according to her choice before cutting down her legs? There are two possible answers to this. Firstly, she opted to study science as she wants to be a scientist and work for the society and herself as well. Secondly, parents have allowed her to come so far as they might get a good standard son-in-law. Is not it a matter of shame? If she has opted to take up her educational career so far, then where is her mental strength to fight for her right to progress further? Why should she stop doing science after her marriage? If it is her parent’s decision to give her higher education, then why do they want to shatter her dreams latter? When we look at these factors, one question came to my mind is that should women not get marry then, if they want to continue their research and job etc?
Marriage is not the only factor that puts a stop to women from doing science. There are other factors such as, economic status of the parents. For example, by her utmost effort, she has completed her graduation in science. She tries to get some fellowship, but remains unfortunate in getting one. Once you complete your post graduation, you have a number of fellowship options. Many parents can not even afford till that period as they have to save a huge amount for her marriage. This is one of the reasons why a girl has to stop her education in the middle. What if her talent could still be utilized in a proper way? Another ground is our rigid tradition. In many cases, a woman will have all the resources she needs to pursue her education and career such as financial assistance, no hurry at home for her marriage. Why is she still not able to work as a scientist in our society? The reason is our rigid and conservative tradition does not allow her to go for a job or work outside home.
Analyzing the above factors, one can come to certain possible solutions. Marriage should not be an obstacle for a woman scientist. After marriage her role should not be confined to a wife, a daughter-in-law and a mother. If she is willing to work, do research or job, then her willingness should be respected by her new family members. Her new family should create a familiar environment for her to work. In some cases, they do and in some they do not. Economy in a broader sense and money in a specific sense should not close the door for higher education. Above all, rigid culture should not cut he legs down and stop her from being independent to pursue her dreams. During my recent conversation with one of the scientists, he explained that it is difficult to change the system at once, rather we can create another system, and its success will bring followers. What can be possible solution for our women scientists? Marriage, economic circumstances, and culture- all these are part of all of us; our society. It may take decades to bring in a change. Here comes an alternative to this present discussed issue, that is, make those women scientists work from home itself.
This initiative is an excellent one I came to learn about. This is the concept of working from home itself, especially for women. We are of course, aware of the initiative of working from home for moms in internet. At present there is another initiative meant specifically for women is women scientists’ forum of Open source Drug Discovery (OSDD) Initiative. The main motive of this initiative is to bring together the creative talented women scientists those who are interested to work for the cure of Tuberculosis disease by working in an open space and on a common platform. As I have mentioned earlier, there are many women who can not come out for job or research for many social factors. It specially encourages them to join for this social cause. As a matter of fact, it is not limited to a particular group of women, but welcomes any woman who is voluntarily interested to join this forum and contribute. The functioning of such forums is very important and needs to be supported by the Government, society and nation in a broader sense. Here when I mentioned the word ‘support’, it implies that the ‘strength’. This strength in the sense of support will definitely lead to outstanding contributions to the OSDD initiative in general and women empowerment in particular.

[1] In this article the category of woman is specific to women scientists only. Although, the presented arguments about education, occupation, economic and other issues are presented by keeping women scientists in view, but broadly the same arguments are applicable to any area such as social sciences, arts, humanities, and so on.