Mysuru, Jan 4: Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani on Monday, Jan 4 told the Indian Science Congress here that prejudice against women scientists "dramatically exists" and doing away with it is the most fundamental challenge that needs to be addressed.
Noting that science does not preach or teach prejudice, she said science for every day women was something that should be encouraged.
"A very famous physicist had once said that science can enrich plutonium but cannot enrich the hearts of men. I find that to be very honestly true to this day. For if science couldn't enrich the hearts of men, we would not need a separate Women's Science Congress," Irani said.
Inaugurating the 5th Women's Science Congress here as part of the ongoing 103rd five-day ISC, she said, "...Science does not preach or teach prejudice, it helps us understand differentiation between beings and encourages us to celebrate that diversity."
Stating that prejudice against women scientists "dramatically exists", she said, "That is a scientific anomaly."
Noting that no school-going child in the country today would be able to name an Indian female scientist, she said "...that is the prejudice that we need to address at the school level."
"As we look to address the challenges that female scientists face, first and foremost, we need to engage with our children at the school level and tell them the remarkable contribution made by female scientists of Indian origin. That is the challenge that I hope to address at the earliest."
Pointing out that the latest report of the All India Survey for Higher Education was extremely encouraging, Irani said it showed that predominantly there was an increase of girls who seek admissions to institutions of higher education.
"But, the challenge is that the teaching community is yet to accommodate more and more women; and when we look at the standards which are set for who can be enrolled as a teacher, one of the biggest challenges women face is to get a PhD," she said.