Indian Women Scientists Of Yore Who Made A Difference

Anushika Srivastava
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anandibai joshi indian women scientists yore

On February 11, we celebrated the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Although only 14% of researchers in India are women, these days more and more women are coming out and opting for Science as their mainstream subject. However, since the days of yore, India has been a proud contributor in Science, the country of Aryabhatta. So here are some women scientists who have made a difference-

  • AnandiBai GopalRao Joshi (31 March 1865 – 26 February 1887)

indian women scientists yore The first Indian woman to study western medicine in the United States. Pic: NDTV

She was the first woman from the then Bombay Presidency of India to to study and graduate with a two-year degree in western medicine in the United States. Addressing the community at Serampore College Hall in 1883, Anandibai made her decision of going to America public and stressed on the need of female doctors in India. However, after reaching America, her health worsened and she contracted tuberculosis. Despite the hardships, she completed her MD and was congratulated by Queen Victoria. After returning to India in 1886, she was appointed as the Physician-in-Charge of the female ward at the local Albert Edward Hospital. Sadly, she died of tuberculosis on 26 February 1887 (aged 21).  

  • Janaki Ammal Edavalath Kakkat  (4 November 1897 – 7 February 1984)

Janaki Ammal is the first Indian Woman to obtain a PhD in Botany. She was a cytogenetist and is also credited with putting sweetness in India's sugarcane varieties. Janaki studied chromosomes of thousands of species of flowering plants. In fact, a flower -- Magnolia Kobus Janaki Ammal -- is named after her. Even today, she remains one of the few Asian women to be conferred with DSc, honoris causa, a honorary doctorate by the University of Michigan, that too in 1931!

  • Kamala Sohonie  (14 September 1912 – 28 June 1998)


The first Indian woman to receive a doctorate in Science, worked under Prof. C V Raman (The first Nobel Laureate in Science) at the Tata Institute of Science (now IISc Bangalore), fighting against all gender biases prevalent during the colonial rule. One of the statements by her prove how deep the gender bias was during that time. “Though Raman was a great scientist, he was very narrow-minded. I can never forget the way he treated me just because I was a woman. This was a great insult to me. The bias against women was so bad at that time. What can one expect if even a Nobel laureate behaves in such a manner?” Sohonie has been quoted. (Source- TheBetterIndia)

  • Anna Mani (23 August 1918 – 16 August 2001)

She was a pioneer physicist and meteorologist. In the male dominated field at that time, how she excelled is evident by the fact that she became the Deputy Director-General of the India Meteorological Department. Mani was an expert in designing and manufacturing a wide range of measuring devices, keeping in mind the accuracy in measurement. Some of them are radiosondes, ozone and radiation instruments, anemometers, rain gauges, pyranometers. Not only in India, she contributed a lot to the international community of science also by holding important positions within World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Commission for Instruments and Methods of Observation (CIMO), WMO/International Council for Science (ICSU) and Commission for Special Applications of Meteorology and Climatology (COSAMC).

  • Rajeshwari Chatterjee (24 January 1922 – 3 September 2010)

Indian women scientists yore First woman engineer from Karnataka. Pic: Connect with IISC

Considered to be the first woman engineer from Karnataka, she was the only woman faculty in IISc back in 1953, crushing all the boundaries of gender inequality. Considering her outstanding contribution to the field of Microwave and Antennae Engineering, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development named Chatterjee as one of the ‘first women achievers of India’ and posthumously awarded her the recognition.

Read Also: Key To Fixing Gender Gap In Math & Science: Boost Women’s Confidence

Anushika Srivastava is an Intern with SheThePeople.Tv

Indian women scientists science anandibai joshi AnandiBai GopalRao Joshi Anna Mani kamala sohonie rajeshwari chatterjee