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Stories of Indian Women in Science (a collaborative project between Sci-Illustrate and Drawing History of Science) RAJESHWARI CHATERJEE

rajeswari chatterjee


Rajeshwari Chatterjee (1922 – 2010).
Known for her significant contributions to the field of #microwave & antennae engineering
Rajeshwari was born to an upper class Indian family which included her social activist grandmother, who started an accelerated school to promote women’s education. She attended this school, & encouraged by her grandmother, pursued higher education, completing her BSc (1939) & MSc (1942) in Math. In 1943, she applied to the Indian Institute for Science (IISc)& after extensive debate about a female candidate, she was granted a research position in Communication Engineering under SP Chakravarty.
In 1946, she won a national scholarship allowing her to do research abroad; in 1947 she boarded a ship to the US as an unmarried woman in her 20s with the full support of her family (rare back then!). Joining the University of Michigan, she earned a MSc in Electrical Engineering, followed by 8-mo practical training in Division of Radio Frequency Measurements at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington DC. In 1953, she completed her PhD and returned home.
She joined IISc as a faculty member in the Dept of Electrical Communication Engineering. Along with her husband, she pioneered India’s microwave engineering research labs & was the first to teach the subject in India. Their lab always had more female students than other labs, perhaps because the duo understood the need to promote & provide space for them. Her research provided significant contributions to microwave resonators used in compact portable wireless devices & microstrip antennae used in aircrafts & missiles. In her 30 yr career, Rajeshwari published 100 research papers, 6 books, & mentored 20 PhD students.
Rajeshwari acknowledged the privilege she had of belonging to an upper-class, supportive family, & wanted to support women who were not as lucky. Post retirement, she worked with the Indian Association for Women’s Studies on addressing many issues on caste segregation & gender discrimination. She knew the importance of mentorship, which she provided to many during & after her formal career.
Post by Dr. Roopali Chaudhary, Illustration by Arghya Manna, Sci-Illustrate Stories.
#womeninscience #indianwomeninscience #thesciencetimes #mentors #inspiringwomen

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