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Lead the way: Women win Nobel in Chemistry

Readers' Speak: The idli controversy; Nobel in Chemistry is a victory for women worldwide
Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna.

The Telegraph   |   Published 14.10.20, 12:48 AM

Sir — The editorial, “Women, interrupted” (Oct 11), must be appreciated for pointing out how women face many obstacles in a patriarchal world. Society has always been dominated by men, but with time, women are increasingly getting acknowledged for their merit. As such, it is not surprising that two women scientists have received the Nobel Prize in chemistry this year. Nonetheless, it must be considered a victory for women across the world. The Nobel Prize for literature, too, has gone to a woman; a woman is set to be the new chief of the World Trade Organization for the first time. Such achievements would encourage other women to break the shackles of prejudice that often hold them back. There is no doubt that recognition and honour will come their way if they are willing to put up a fight to reach their goals.

Sumit Kumar Das,


Sir — This year, the role of women in scientific research has been especially highlighted as the Nobel Prizes in chemistry as well as physics have gone to women. The Nobel committee has for long been criticized for not recognizing the contribution of women, particularly in the sciences. In the entire history of the Nobel Prize, the awards in science subjects have gone to only a little over 20 women. Considering this poor record, the fact that the chemistry award was given to two women and the physics award to one, as joint winner, is commendable. Scientific achievements cannot be judged on the basis of gender; yet gender bias seems to have influenced decision-making for years. It is because of this that the choice of awardees this year is particularly welcome. This trend should be sustained in the future.

Another important aspect of the award for chemistry is that it has been given to a discovery which is only around eight years old. The Nobel Prize is often given for discoveries made decades ago. The timely recognition given to the gene-editing technology underlines its value and relevance. The committee should make this the norm. 

Shovanlal Chakraborty,

Sir — Not many people understand the hurdles that most women have to overcome in order to pursue their own dreams instead of following conventional paths carved out for them in society. Many teachers would be able to vouch for the fact that, very often, promising girl students, who have a penchant for the sciences, are forced by their families to study the humanities just on account of the misinformed notion that science is not for women. This must have ruined a number of careers. 

People often appreciate the struggles of women to make a name for themselves. While the courage of these women is indeed laudable, what we often miss is the fact that they should not have had to go through this struggle at all. It is the collective failure of society that women have to put up such a fierce fight for a choice that should have been available to them in the first place.

Pragya Palit,
North 24 Parganas

Sir — More number of women are being recognized for their talent and hard work — the recent spate of acknowledgements is an example of this. This will indeed go a long way in encouraging young girls to nurture an ambition and pursue it. One also hopes that parents across the world, especially in India, who discontinue the education of their girl children because they do not see their true potential will change their minds now.

Anuradha Mitra,

Sir — That the Nobel Prize in chemistry has been won by two women does not come as a surprise. Women have for long shown that they are worthy of achieving such honour. The efforts of women should always be recognized. They can serve as agents of change in this patriarchal society and, in turn, inspire many other women.

Md. Yusuf,
Illambazar, Birbhum

Spice it up

Sir — Last year, an American academic had drawn flak for saying that ‘Indian food’ is terrible. Now, a British professor — who, ironically, seems to specialize in politics and history of India and Britain — has stirred up a raging debate on Twitter by calling idlis “boring”. Eminent food critics have joined the argument. Although Indian food is becoming increasingly popular in the West, many people still appear to be at a loss with regard to the Indian palate. The discussion that this tweet has begun might help enlighten more people about how to enjoy the variety of cuisines that India has to offer.

Sangeeta Roy,

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