Six Indian Women in Science Who Made History


Science is the kind of study that benefits humans the most. But there has been a time when studying science or being in the field of science had been denied for women. 11 February is the International Day for Women and Girls in Science. Let us look at six Indian women who have made history in the field of science.

  1. Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi

Anandibai Joshi is the first female physician of India and the first woman to have graduated with a two-year degree in Western Medicine in the United States. Her personal life led her to pursue medicine. She was wed to a man 20 years older than her at the age of nine. At fourteen she gave birth to a boy who died because of a lack of enough medical facility. The death of her newborn compelled her to study medicine. Her husband encouraged her to study medicine abroad. She studied at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1886; this was the first women’s medical programme worldwide.

2. Janaki Ammal

Janaki Ammal was the first Indian scientist to have received the reputed Padma Shri Award in

1977. In the 1900s, Janaki Ammal took up botany, which was an unusual choice for women. In 1921, She obtained an honours degree in botany from the Presidency College. She went on to occupy the post of the director-general of the Botanical Survey of India.

3.    Kamala Sohonie

Kamal Sohonie was the first Indian woman to have taken a PhD degree in the scientific discipline. When she applied to the IISc for a research fellowship she was met with rejection merely because she was a woman. Due to her excellent performance, Prof. C V Raman, the then director of IISs, gave her permission to pursue her research. Kamala Sohonie was the first female student of Prof. C V Raman. Kamala discovered that every cell of a plant tissue contained the enzyme ‘cytochrome C’ which was involved in the oxidation of all plant cells.

4.     Kalpana Chawla

Kalpana Chawla was the first astronaut of Indian origin to have ventured into space. In 1997,

She first flew as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator on a Space Shuttle

Columbia. Unfortunately, Kalpana Chawla died in the space shuttle Columbia disaster on February 1, 2003. The tragedy occurred when the space shuttle disintegrated while returning into the Earth’s atmosphere.

5.         Dr Indira Hinduja

Dr Indira Hinduja, an Indian gynaecologist and infertility specialist, was the person behind the first Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) baby in India, on 4 January 1988. Before this, she also delivered India’s first test-tube baby at KEM Hospital on August 6, 1986. She has a doctorate degree in ‘Human In Vitro Fertilisation and Embryo Transfer’ from Bombay University. She is also credited for developing an oocyte donation technique for menopausal and premature ovarian failure patients, giving the country’s first baby out of this technique on January 24, 1991.

6. Dr Aditi Pant

Dr Aditi Pant is an oceanographer. She was the first Indian woman to visit Antarctica in 1983 as a part of the Indian expedition to study Geology and Oceanography. She did her PhD at Westfield College, London University. Her PhD thesis was based on the physiology of marine algae. She has worked at the National Chemical Laboratory and the National Institute of Oceanography.

-Poorna    K isan

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