Ridiculous Questions Women Scientists Get Asked ft. Gagandeep Kang

Ridiculous Questions Women Scientists Get Asked ft. Gagandeep Kang

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Camera: Nitin Chopra
Editor: Prashant Chauhan

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Scientist Dr Gagandeep Kang has become the first Indian woman to be inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in London. Called India's vaccine "God Mother", Dr Gagandeep Kang has joined the likes of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin to be elected to the almost 360-year-old scientific body.

She is currently Executive Director, Translational Health Science and Technology Institute in Haryana's Faridabad. Union Minister for Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan described Dr Kang's election to the Royal Society as a 'proud moment for India'.

Besides Kang, 50 other people were elected Fellows of The Royal Society, ten people as Foreign Members and one Honorary Fellow for their exceptional contributions to science, the academy announced on 16 April.

“To develop practical approaches to support public health, she has also built national rotavirus and typhoid surveillance networks, established laboratories to support vaccine trials and conducted phase 1-3 clinical trials of vaccines, a comprehensive approach that has supported two WHO pre-qualified vaccines, made by two Indian companies. She is investigating the complex relationships between infection, gut function and physical and cognitive development, and seeking to build a stronger human immunology research in India.”
The academy

According to News 18, Ardaseer Cursetjee, a Parsi shipbuilder and engineer belonging to the Wadia shipbuilding family, was the first Indian male scientist who was elected to be part of the society in 1841. Almost 180 years later, Gagandeep Kang, an Indian woman scientist has been elected to the society.

When The Quint spoke to Kang, she spoke about the sexism that is rampant in the field of science.

“If you look at where women publish and how frequently women are first authors and last authors on papers, that proportion is a lot less for women than it is for men. The first couple of big grants that I wrote I wrote with women collaborators and they got funded. When I decided to go out for an independent grant of my own the reviews that came back were: ‘This is very well written, did an Indian write it? Did a woman write it? Who is she working with that got her to this point?’ That was a learning experience for me.”
Gagandeep Kang

Other Indian scientists elected Fellows of the Royal Society in 2019 include professors Gurdyal Besra from the University of Birmingham, Manjul Bhargava from Princeton University, Anant Parekh from the University of Oxford and Akshay Venkatesh from the Institute for Advanced Study.

Here’s wishing Dr Kang all the very best for the grant!

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