The persons featured on the calendar have been crowdsourced from Life of Science’s 365 Indian Women in STEM project, which ran through 2021.

Life of Science Calendar 2022
Features Science Monday, January 10, 2022 - 17:58

Every year since 2018, Life of Science, an initiative which began as a blog in 2016 to chronicle Indian women in science, has been releasing a calendar featuring them. For the 2022-23 calendar, the team has expanded the ambit to include 50 women, non-binary and queer persons, reflective perhaps of the growth of Life of Science itself – the blog has become a science media platform, the dynamic team having grown from two women to freelancers including scientists, science graduates, artists, journalists and more. “We all benefit from being inclusive in what we think of as science and scientists. When we open our eyes to how STEM research works, you get to know the importance of the work that PhD scholars, lab technicians etc. are doing. When we read about scientists quoted in the media, we need to acknowledge that a lot of what they are saying is drawn from collaborative work being done by their students,” says Nandita Jayaraj, one of the co-founders of Life of Science.

“When we urged people to be more broad-minded while nominating people, we got so many nominations of people who were students, and technical officers,” she adds. The nominations she is referring to were for the 365 Indian Women in STEM, a digital initiative by Life of Science ran through 2021 where people could nominate their peers in science. “With these nominations we were able to highlight one woman in STEM on every day of the year. The idea was to prove how easy it can be to find women experts in fields, and how there is no excuse for 'manels', 'manferences' and underrepresentation in awards to persist in Indian science today,” Nandita explains. And the persons featured on this year’s edition of the calendar are crowdsourced from this very project which received 400+ nominations, making it Life of Science’s most ambitious and diverse yet.

“Due to narrow definitions of science, we end up ignoring many kinds of contributions,” Nandita points out. “We thought each page would feature a group of scientists who did work in roles that fit into a certain scientific ecosystem. We didn’t want to focus on individual narratives to show the collaborative spirit of science.”

They also decided to expand the definition of “science” – the women, transgender and non-binary persons featured in the calendar work in “wildly diverse yet interconnected themes ranging from public health to computer science, from neurodivergence to nature, from algebra to astronomy, and much more,” Nandita states. “We consider any sort of research or critical thinking as science. We don’t discriminate based on where the person featured is in their career.”

The result of such an approach has been a heartening and uplifting chain reaction – many professors, for instance, nominated their students, including undergraduate students working in research. “It was a trickle-down effect, we got to know of many names we wouldn’t have otherwise. There was a lot of goodwill that came through in this project. People who want to gatekeep often say that by looking to include diverse persons like transgender and non-binary persons in science, we are forced to lower the quality of the discourse. However, this project shows that we only have to gain by being inclusive and diverse,” Nandita says.

The calendar, which is available for pre-order, has also been designed by artist Ipshita Thakur, who is also a non-binary person. Some people featured in the calendar include ICMR-NIV director Priya Abraham, and community medicine doctor Aqsa Shaikh, who is also trans. The calendar will be released on February 11, which is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and will be valid from February 2022 to February 2023. Each page of the calendar will also have a QR code, which people can scan to read about the work of the persons featured on Life of Science. Pre-order the calendar here

Photos: Ipshita Thakur

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