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"I was not taken seriously; I was told what to do," said WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan

Updated: Nov 21, 2020

Shruti Verma

6TH November 2020

Dr Soumya Swaminathan (Source– The Hindustan Times)

According to the article by The Hindu, in the recent conference, Dr Swaminathan shared how fortunate she was for not being treated differently because she was a girl or a woman throughout her education and during her MD. She further added, "It was after I started my career in a government research institution that I experienced the culture of a male-dominated committee room. That is when you felt you were being talked down to or made fun of almost", said Dr Swaminathan about her time at ICMR.

In the conference, Dr Swaminathan revealed that she was not taken seriously and was always told what to do- her ideas were shot down most of the time. She called the institution very patriarchal. Swaminathan also spoke about the challenges and biases she had to face being a woman researcher. In an interview with The Wire Science, Swaminathan said, "It is more difficult for women researchers to get their grants approved, significantly smaller portions of research grants go-to women, and women also have difficulties in getting their results published. I have faced those challenges and biases." She further added that women have difficulty defending their grant proposals because they are treated differently from men.

Swaminathan also mentioned a study published in the British Medical Journal on October 1st, 2020, which stated that while women comprise 70 per cent of the global health workforce, they hold on 25 per cent of senior decision-making roles. Taking up the theme of the conference, Dr Swaminathan revealed how she listens to the nurse and not just doctors, as well as social workers. She also said that her staff was exposed to the concerns of the LGBTQ+ community.

(Sources- The Hindu, The Wire Science, Women lift health and Wikipedia)

Edited by- Arjun Rohit Vikraman

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