“Marie Maynard Daly conducted important research projects, which clarified a variety of mechanisms happening in human bodies despite all the problems she had to overcome, whether it was race or gender bias, or her lack of money.”
This morning Professor Rajini Rao and I spoke with Professor Siromi Samarasinghe for STEM Women. Siromi spoke about what it was like being a woman Chemistry Professor in Sri Lanka and how to better support students. She discussed how one of the main issues impeding women’s progress in science is the cultural expectation of marriage.
Siromi pursued her Masters and PhD at a time when not many women were going into the sciences, both in Sri Lanka and in other parts of the world. She moved the UK to study even though there was tremendous pressure from family and friends on her mother to get Siromi married off. Thankfully, her mother was supportive and Siromi was able to carry out her research on food chemistry with a focus on the fascinating chemistry of tea! Siromi was the only woman doing a postgraduate degree in any sciences at her university, and despite feeling isolated as a result, she completed her PhD studies with great success. Siromi went back to Sri Lanka were she would eventually become Chair of her Department – a role she held until recently. Read more about our chat below!
Two women appear on the back of the Nobel Prize medal. Yet less than 3% of Nobel laureates have been women! Only one woman social scientist has been awarded a science Prize (in economics). Not to mention the fact that most of the winners have been White and predominantly from Europe and North America.
As part of our celebration of women in STEM ahead of International Women’s Day, I wrote about the gendered nature of these awards for STEM Women.