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  • Saloni Khanduri

Indian Women Who Left a Mark in the Field of Science

Since time immemorial, India has been known for its contributions to the field of science and mathematics. In fact, the concept of ‘zero’ as a number and the decimal system are inventions of brilliant mathematicians of ancient India. India’s history is replete with great scientists. Among them, there are several women who have contributed significantly to various disciplines of science. Let us look at three of them who have left a mark in science and technology.

Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi was the first Indian woman physician and the first woman to have graduated with a two-year degree in Western Medicine in the United States. The death of her newborn spurred her on to become a physician. Her husband encouraged her to study medicine abroad. In a public hall in 1883, she expressed her disappointment with the lack of women doctors in India. She said, "I volunteer myself as one." She studied at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1886 which was the first women’s medical programme worldwide.

Janaki Ammal pursued scientific research in cytogenetics — a branch of genetics that is concerned with how the chromosomes can relate to cell behaviour and phytogeography — concerned with the geographic distribution of the plant species. Ammal’s most renowned work is on sugarcane and brinjal. She received the Padma Shri Award in 1977 and went on to occupy the reputed post of director-general of the Botanical Survey of India.

Asima Chatterjee was an Indian chemist. She is regarded highly for her works in the fields of organic chemistry and phytochemistry (chemicals derived from plants). Her most notable work includes research on vinca alkaloids (derived from the periwinkle that is known for its anti-cancer properties) and the development of anti-epileptic and anti-malarial drugs.

In today's society, women are more free to show their abilities and that they too can contribute to the science sector. We as individuals must support each and every person, no matter their gender, in their journey to help build an impartial society for the future. We all are extremely proud of these women scientists who left a lasting mark in the history of science.

Janaki Ammal is remembered as a legendary botanist

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