Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lilavati's Daughters

Lilavati's Daughters: The Women Scientists of India is a collection of (auto)biographical essays of about 100 women scientists who have worked and are working in India. The name is drawn from The Lilavati, a twelfth century treatise in which the mathematician Bhaskaracharya addresses a number of problems to his daughter, Lilavati. Although legend has it that Lilavati never married, her intellectual legacy lives on in the form of her daughters - the women scientists of India.

Covering a range of disciplines in these essays about 100 Indian women scientists talk of what brought them to science, what kept their interest alive, and what has helped them achieve some measure of distinction in their careers. What makes a successful career in science possible for a woman? Many answers to this question can be found somewhere in the essays written by Lilavati's Daughters.

The book is directed towards the reading public. A young student with research ambitions will find this an important collection where she or he can learn firsthand of women who functioned and achieved their goals in the Indian social and academic environment. Others will also find the essays to be of value and interest for what they say. And as is often the case, also for what they do not say...

From the Press Release (pdf) issued by the Indian Academy of Sciences. This book will be released this Friday (31 October 2008) at IIT-D during the inaugural event of the Academy's annual meeting.

[The Academy's website says that the inspiration for this book is One Hundred Reasons to Be a Scientist (pdf), a collection of essays by leading scientists, and published by the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy. Given the inspiration, we may expect Lilavati's Daughters to be available online soon].

The Academy and IIT-D are also hosting a Symposium on Women in Science on Saturday (1 November 2008); a panel discussion on this topic will feature, among others, Dr. Vineeta Bal (National Institute of Immunology, Delhi), Prof. Saman Habib (Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow), Prof. Sujatha Ramdorai (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai), and Prof. Indira Nath (Blue Peter Research Centre, Lepra Society, Hyderabad) [see her interview at Nature Medicine].

The Academy's meetings are (usually) open to everyone. So, if this topic interests you, this Symposium should interest you too.

* * *

While on this topic, I should point you to Under the Microscope -- "Where Women and Science Connect" -- a social networking site for women in science and technology.

The site has a "Stories" section where members have answered the question, "What Got You Hooked on Science." The idea is similar to that of Lilavati's Daughters, but with all the contributions online already.

Thanks to Peggy at Women in Science for the pointer.


  1. madraskaari said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  2. madraskaari said...

    From the press release:

    "The book is directed towards the reading public. "

    Why else are such books written :-).

    To gather dust in the shelves of a uiversity library?

  3. Anonymous said...

    This is a superb book - truly inspirational for any Indian aspiring to a life in science - whether man or woman. A perfect gift for Diwali, Christmas, birthday or anyday - from a parent to a child who has such aspirations...