ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Towards a Narrative of Gender in the Biological Sciences

Using the metaphor of the leaky pipeline, this article looks at the relative absence of women in scientific disciplines. It explores, somewhat tentatively, the impact of the structure of institutions and prevalent practices to ask how patriarchal and male-centric notions influence primary assumptions in scientific work and in scientific culture.

Chronicles of a Queer Relationship with Science

This article traverses a journey of a person in science and feminism, highlighting a trajectory in which her relationship with science, its praxis, and its understanding, all transformed as her engagement with feminisms also evolved. The narrative highlights the change from a narrow understanding of science and a career within it, to the emerging multiple possibilities of being a person in science—a change made possible because the feminist lens shifts focus from the question of women in science to a feminist understanding of science. The process, hence, results in a slow inhabiting of the “outsider” in a reimagined landscape of the discipline.

Learning to Belong as an Indian Physicist

In this article, I map out my trajectory as a theoretical physicist, especially highlighting my experiences as a woman in a domain which is especially male-dominated, even more so than in other areas of science research. I reflect on the larger problems women in physics find themselves up against and which range from fewer numbers of women in these areas of science, to integration of women into peer groups, widely prevalent sexist attitudes in their workspaces, lack of support facilities like childcare, and sexual harassment in the workplace. In spite of more women finding jobs in physics in recent years, the attitudinal shifts required to make a genuine difference in the culture of research have not yet fallen into place. Issues of discrimination, whether due to gender, race or caste, prevalent in science have to do with institutional structures and the culture of research. However, the “hard” sciences like physics deal with immutable, objective knowledge, which is itself not marked by these human discriminants.

Mathematics to Mathematics Education

This autobiographical account seeks to achieve two aims. One, it seeks to place in the public sphere a personal experience of abuse, trauma and loss of self-esteem that the author suffered as a doctoral student in mathematics. It details the experiences that allowed her to go beyond the disciplinary confines to engage with feminist and caste politics. Two, it describes and problematises, even if in a limited way, how mathematics and science research institutions are organised and function, the dominant notions and beliefs that operate in these spaces, and their implication for the larger academic atmosphere in the country. It throws light on the pervasive notions of merit that operate in the science institutions, contributing to the exclusion of women and those from marginalised castes.

Woman Mathematician in India

An autobiographical account of being a woman mathematician in India draws on personal experiences to look at the interactions between gender, caste, class, language, and mathematics. The aim is to look beyond the lack of numbers when we consider women in science and to examine the myriad layers that are a part of any such reflection. Maybe, coming from a particular caste background aided in becoming a mathematician, but being from the South in North India created another set of problems. Mathematics, however, was the safe haven within which much of this played out, or was it?

Gender and Science

A narrative of the struggles that a woman has to go through in order to establish herself in an area of research dominated by men and by ideas rooted in patriarchy shows how the mathematical playing field is skewed against women. Not only do they have to struggle much more than their male counterparts, but women mathematicians who have made important contributions are still not given their due. The problems that women in the natural sciences face and the possible ways in which these can be addressed in order to create a more equitable work atmosphere in science research institutions and universities is discussed.

The Production of Science

The discourse on gender and science in India remains largely oblivious of the ways in which caste and class shape the gender experience of those who do science, and operate with gender to shape the project of science itself. There are many ways in which science and the process of producing it are gendered and bear caste that are detrimental to the very project of doing “good” science in India. A collaboration between three scientists with differing caste, gender and nationality locations— one addresses the issue as a Scheduled Tribe student from one of the states in North East India, another addresses the structures of caste and gender as a Scheduled Caste student from Hyderabad, and a third addresses the same as a dominant caste genderqueer transgender professor—their experiences of science are shaped in multiple contexts in this article.

Leaving Labour?

This article surveys recent development in Indian employment relations, broadly defined, from the perspective of a visiting British academic. The author finds traditional academic industrial relations, centred on trade unions and collective bargaining, in decline as globalisation, the new economy and the expansion of business schools and disciplines reshape the study of Indian work and employment. The article discusses the emergence of human resource management as a potentially managerial and individualist alternative to critical, labour-sympathetic intellectual traditions. The author discerns hope for the future in the strong Indian traditions of labour history and labour economics, while stressing the need for a strong critical, empirical sociology of work that can establish what the new Indian workplace(s) are really like.

Urban Planning and Violence

This paper argues that exclusion and violence are imprinted on the social and spatial fabric of cities and neighbourhoods, and that social and political divides are often manifest in the control and policing of public space. Urban violence has many drivers and manifestations. However, the challenge is how to retrofit cities once violence takes hold, and to examine whether urban planning has a role in recovery. Can urban planning breed a new transparency and confidence that breaks embedded exclusionary urban management practices, and create new spaces of engagement, or is urban planning a root cause of the problems?

Colonising the Slum

Significant continuities and critical shifts in the forms, intensity, sources and instruments of violence have taken place since the 1990s when a number of changes were brought about in land markets of Mumbai. This paper views the impact of these shifts and the violence/s embedded therein along the state–market axis. Intense everyday violence enhances insecurity among residents, women and young girls in particular in highly complex ways. However, far from being passive victims of this violence/s they are engaged in highly creative struggles to confront the multi-institutional injustices experienced by them.

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