The Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, has taken many initiatives to create equity and empowerment for women in science. The initiative for doing a book for young people was taken by the Department of Science and Technology, as a part of its continuing Science and Society programme. During its many deliberations the Task Force for Women in Science arrived at the idea of a book meant for young people.
The task of designing a book for young people was entrusted to SPARROW. The book is for young people eager to know who their foremothers in science are in India. There have been many extraordinary women scientists in India from the early twentieth century onwards. They are not yet in school text books. At the school level, the only woman scientist that every girl can recall is always Madame Curie. SPARROW has designed a book to introduce young girls to many early pioneering women scientists and contemporary women scientists in India. The book is about stories of their life and work. Why did they take up science? What was their childhood like? Was their family supportive? What was their contribution to science? What problems did they face? How did they deal with those problems?
The book is not conceived exactly as a book of answers but a book which tells the stories of women scientists, whose life experiences and passion for science provide answers to many questions.
Every new project teaches SPARROW new lessons and gives the SPARROW team new insights into the subject matter of the project. In this project also, we learnt some valuable lessons in terms of conceiving and designing a book for young people. The process of writing and designing the book not only taught us to write a language that communicates precisely and reaches young people but also to understand science and scientists in ways we had not done before. The narratives of the scientists and the books and articles we had to read to understand the narratives prepared the ground for the project. However, the project came to fruition only because of the support extended by the scientists themselves, the extensive and painstaking comments given by senior journalist and friend of SPARROW, Jerry Pinto, and the ever alert coordinators of SPARROW team, Malsawmi Jacob, Priya D’souza and Pooja Pandey. When Devdutt Pattanaik came forward to do some drawings for us, we were convinced that SPARROW will never be alone in whatever it takes up. Madhav Bhagwat and Srikant Bhagwat, our friends at Mouj Printers, made the project their own and have printed the book in a way that only they can.