What does your little girl want to be when she grows up? Does she dream of being a rocket scientist or an astronaut? This article which highlights some of the key women scientists who contributed to the historic Mangalyaan mission of ISRO, suggests that if that’s what we want we need to “Start her young”.
How do you inspire her to “Dream To Fly, Dream To Touch The Sky”? Well, today’s historic successful launch of 104 space satellites by ISRO, consisting of one PSLV and 103 nano-satellites, is sure to ignite the dreams of many a child. As Nandini Harinath, Project Manager Mission Design, ISRO, puts it, “If you’re doing mission operations you don’t need to watch a science-fiction movie, we see the excitement in our day-to-day lives.” We take pride as Indians in ISRO’s achievements and are definitely proud of all the women who are part of this esteemed organization.
Currently, about 24% of the 16,000 strong workforce at ISRO are women. The reason for the low percentage of women is attributed to a lower number of women joining in the 90s, but they are optimistic looking at the increased number of young women recruits in engineering as well as technical fields in the organization. As Anuradha TK, one of the senior-most women at ISRO says, “Once girls see that there are lots of women in the space program, they also get motivated, they think if she can do it, so can they.” Towards this end, you must see this inspiring video that features the narratives by 3 key women who worked on Mangalyan (it’s a bit long, but show it to your daughters).
This video highlights the challenges, the excitement and the sense of accomplishment which was felt by one and all during the Mangalayaan mission.
An additional motivation to work for ISRO is a conducive and supportive environment for women as professed by its employees. At the India Today Women Summit 2015, Nandini Harinath has been quoted saying that she has not been the subject of any sexual discrimination at ISRO. She went on to say that everyone was looked as people in lab coats so to speak, and were not differentiated based on their gender. Promotion and recruitment have been based on the merit of their work and knowledge.
For further fuelling, to really blast off our kids’ dreams to the next orbit, we need to look no further than NASA’s women astronauts of Indian Origin. Kalpana Chawla has been a household name in India since she became the first Indo-American to go to space in 1997. Also, Sunita Williams an astronaut of Indian-Slovenian descent holds the records for maximum spacewalks by a woman. More recently, Shwana Pandya, a 32-year-old neurosurgeon will become the third woman of Indian origin to fly in space.
These are all great role models for our daughters. With the right inspiration and support, we hope to witness the first Indian woman astronaut aboard ISRO’s first manned mission in 2024.
by Namratha Varadharajan
Namratha is a digital marketer in the making. Other than her love for the written word and her kids, she enjoys Italian food, dancing and gardening. Explore more of her writings at www.namysaysso.com