Nandini Harinath

They say women are from Venus. Well, they’re definitely not limiting themselves to one planet or two. 

“So all that would mean that whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.”- Nandini Harinath

Meet Nandini Harinath, scientist at ISRO and deputy operations director for the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), popularly called Mangalyaan. Nandini and her colleagues came into the limelight only recently when a picture of them celebrating the success of the Mars mission was released, breaking away from the perception that “Women cannot succeed as scientists” and popularizing the moniker #ScientistsInSarees, albeit for a brief time. (Interestingly, it was another lady, Mary Somerville, whose distinguished accomplishments led to the term “scientist” being used for the first time, the erstwhile phrase being “man of science”.)

Being the deputy director of operations, in layman terms, means that Nandini was one of the key people in charge of controlling the Orbiter in its journey from Earth to Mars. She has worked at ISRO for over 20 years on 14 different missions. A physicist by training, Nandini, with her exemplary qualifications, is one of the many individuals who work every day to annul the myth that girls are bad at science, math and computing.

When it comes to outer space, women are, even now, struggling to shatter the glass ceiling more than ever. Only around 20-24% of ISRO’s staff is female, although these numbers have shown a promising growth in the past few years. Nandini points out that it is essential to recognize that a woman can be “a woman and a scientist” instead of the usual “or” that comes to be attached to such statements.

I would like to end by emphasizing; it is of utmost importance that at any point of time all this should not end up in an unhealthy competition or race between two categories. We should be careful not to make it a mere numbers game or as opposite gender movement.- Nandini Harinath

Read a part of Nandini’s speech from her session “Women are from Mars, Women are from Venus” at the India Today Women Summit and Awards 2015 here.

To know more about the women of ISRO, click here .



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