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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Kiran Mazumdar, Angela Saini & Lisa Randall On The Pre-Planned Bias Women Face In Science

  • IWB Post
  •  January 30, 2018

When I say that there was no space for me to navigate my way on the fourth day of JLF 2018, please understand that I am not exaggerating. Jam-packed and unbelievably crowded, the last session of the day, ‘Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong’ turned out to be one of my favourite sessions, because, by the end of it, I was high on the sheer confidence the speakers exuded.

The session had Angela Saini, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Lisa Randall in conversation with Namita Bhandare. And before I get into the riveting conversation they had on stage, let me tell you who these women are. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, one of the leading women entrepreneurs of India, is the Chairman of Biocon. Lisa Randall is an American theoretical physicist working in particle physics and cosmology and Angela Saini is a British science journalist, broadcaster and the author of the book the session is named after.

While I have never found any difference in the intellectual prowess of men and women, seeing that I am the product of this misogynistic societal thinking, I am often forced to reconsider if these discriminations truly hold any ground.

JLF 2018

“There was this experiment where it was found that females have small sized brains compared to men. And thus it was concluded that women are least intellectual ones of the two. I ask if it’s the brain size that decided your intelligence levels, then following that norm it is the whale who possesses it in heaps considering it has the biggest brains,” said Angela. And I couldn’t fail bit notice many faces in the crowd frowning in displeasure over their theory of ‘bigger brains, better intellect’ being disregarded.

And sadly, even the field of science is not above these illogical discriminations as Angela explained that women have forever strived to make their contributions be seen and accepted, and would be massively criticized for even the smallest errors as they are considered to be trying the operate a ‘man’s world.’

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw pitched in to share her views on the way society divides the roles of men and women. “I think it is a myth of society when it says that a woman is fit in some XYZ roles and men have to follow a different list. And when women try and defy this rule, they face a pre-planned discrimination. Like in science, in the entry levels many women are there but as they go up the ranks, they face deliberate marginalization, a systematic exclusion.”

Lisa sided with Kiran on the matter, saying that it’s not that women don’t choose science by choice. “The question is that are they given the same privileges as men, the same choices, the exact opportunities?”

And that indeed is a question in dire need of an honest answer.

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