The Rukhmabai Fellowship for Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Representation programme is named in honour of India’s one of the first, practising female doctors. Rukhmabai went against the conventions of her era when she refused to move to her marital home, contesting a historic, legal battle for her rights, which eventually led to the enactment of the Age of Consent Act, 1891.
After the dissolution of her marriage, Rukhmabai continued her education and went on to pursue a career in medicine. She served as the chief medical officer of the Women’s Hospital in Surat.
Rukhmabai’s grit and determination in realising her potential is an inspiration for millions of girls and young women in India who face multiple hurdles when it comes to accessing education. Pursuing science and related fields is especially challenging given the deeply embedded biases in society, gender stereotypes, financial constraints, lack of early childhood exposure and opportunities and so on.
Only 3% of women in India enroll in PhD in science and 6% opt for a PhD in Engineering and Technology, according to a 2018-19 survey by the Ministry of Education. Women account for only 14% of the total scientists, engineers, technologists in research development institutions.
At 101Reporters, we believe that awareness about the struggles and achievements of women role models in the STEM fields will boost girls and young women to dream big and steer them to take up the sciences. We hope to bring stories that will inspire, provoke and encourage more women to take up STEM. And we want to tell these stories through the words of women journalists.