A children’s Book Chronicles the Work of Indian women scientists

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Science as a field in India is now too known except to take up medicine and engineering. And until the Mars Orbiter Mission Mission (Mangalyaan) and the more recent Chandrayaan-2 mission popularized the faces of the women scientists on the forefront, the popularity of Indian women scientists was limited to say the least.

Authors Nandita Jayaraj and Aashima Dogra (left to right in the image) are out to change this. The writers behind thelifeofscience.com, the two have been bringing to the readers stories of Indian women in science for over three years. They decided to extend to a book, which is now out, chronicling the phenomenal work of these women. “We wanted to make visible these awesome women whose work in the field of science can inspire an entire generation,” Dogra told a portal.

The book, 31 Fantastic Adventures in Science: Women Scientists in India, talks of 31 women in fields ranging from biotechnology, to cancer and astrophysics, like biotechnologist Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, cancer biologist Bushra Ateeq, and clinical scientist Gagandeep Kang. Some of them have been interviewed for The Life of Science as well. The book is illustrated by Upasana Agarwal, who has contributed to The Life of Science before. For her illustrations, she read the profiles of the scientists, their work and lives, and put on canvas what she imagined their work spaces would look like, resulting in colourful portraits that she had visuliased, which also created an incredibly attractive format, for children and adults alike.

For the author duo, it only seemed like a logical extension to work on a children’s book, since they met when working on a children’s magazine. “Both of us had already been going to schools and speaking to students about The Life of Science,” Jayaraj told the portal. To that Aashima added, “We are a feminist project, and we have been campaigning to get more women in science. However, it is not as simple as just asking for it; it requires a cultural shift too. So why not start with kids? Young readers can look up to these women.”

The authors hope that the book has the potential to generate curiosity among the young readers, the book has targeted from age 10 upwards. A year in the making, the book can open up dialogues with children at an impressionable age.

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