Many women not interested in doing science: Nusslein-Volhard

Many women not interested in doing science N sslein VolhardPANAJI: German researcher Christiane N sslein-Volhard, who won the Nobel Prize in physiology in 1995, feels that many women were not interested in doing science although there was no difference in the “scientific abilities” of men and women.

Volhard is in Goa to address teachers, students and researchers as a part of the three-day long Nobel Series organized by Nobel Media and Goa government’s Department of Science and Technology that began yesterday.

“It’s a tradition that men have the big profession and the women don’t get the big profession. I had the opportunity to do good research, where rest of the other were men,” she told PTI on the sidelines of the event today.

“Women should have the first opportunity to do good science and when you do good science, you might also win a Nobel Prize. But there is no fundamental difference between scientific abilities between a woman and a man. But it is few women who chose this profession,” she said.

The 75-year-old scientist, who won Nobel Prize in physiology together with Eric Wieschaus and Edward B Lewis for their research on the genetic control of embryonic development, was replying to a question why not many women scientists have won the coveted prize so far.

“Many women are not interested in science, so I don’t think they should do science, and it is not necessary that every other person in science should be a woman,” she said.

Volhard, however, was optimistic about Indian women in the research field.

“There are very talented Indian women, I know, maybe who want to choose this profession,” she added.

Responding to a question why not many women were interested in science, she said, “Women are interested in many things. They tend not to focus so much on a particular topic, which is perhaps required to do good science.”

“Many men are very focused and do nothing else but do science and this is a way of life,” Volhard said.

She said that the situation as far as women in research is concerned is changing constantly for better.

“But I don’t know to which level it will change,” she commented.

On being asked whether there will be a time when equal number of men and women will be doing science, she just said, “No, never.”

Giving one more reason why not many women were into research, she said, “A man chooses to marry a woman, who does not do science, who wants her to do more for the family and his own benefit.”

Back in Germany, Volhard has launched an initiative of freeing women scientists with children from the burden of doing household tasks at a make-or-break point in their career by funding their need to alleviate the domestic load.

“If you are a researcher, you need to place into lot of efforts and energy. People have families and they have to take care of their children and their households. If their husband is not participating in it, then they have little time to be good scientists, so we help them out with this money towards this cause,” she said.

“It would be apt to have day-care for kids and kids are getting educated during the day when their mother is working,” Volhard added.

To a question why not many scientists from developing countries were winning Nobel Prize for Science or Medicine, she said, “Maybe they don’t have so many universities. They don’t have so many places where people can do science, but quality of science and research is very good.”

“There is big tradition in India about science. And I think there is very good education, so it needs to be expanded and maybe more money has to be put into it,” she added.

Talking about her life after winning the Nobel Prize, Volhard said, “After winning the Prize, I had to do many more things outside my scientific interest. It is interesting and also distracting me from doing my science. To be famous and recognized is very time consuming.” -PTI