First Indian woman PhD in science - Fusion - WeRIndia

First Indian woman PhD in science

First Indian woman PhD in science

Have you ever heard of Kamala Sophonie? Not many have.

However, she is the first Indian women to have a PhD in sciences.

Gender bias towards women scientists has existed for decades, not just in India, but all over the world. During colonial rule, the bias was very high in India.

Even though many reformers like Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Savitribai Phule worked to fight this bias, women were still very limited.


In such a harsh time, Kamala Sophonie reached places no one in India has. She was born on June 18, 1911, in Bombay.

Even since childhood she grew up with a love for science. She took joined a BSc (Physics and Chemistry) course at the Bombay Presidency College.

Her family is a highly educated family, so it was not only her dream but also her family’s to see her become a scientist.

She scored highest of the batch in the course and then applied for masters course at IISc.

However, Kamala was denied admission by IISc. Prof. C. V. Raman (the first Asian Nobel laureate in Physics), the head of IISc all because she was a girl.

This shock only made her resolve stronger. She met him and demanded reasons for being denied admission.

First Indian woman PhD in science

First Indian woman PhD in science

After her constant questions and determination, Raman agreed to give her conditional admission that she would not be allowed as a regular candidate. She would only be allowed to work late night as per instruction of her guide. And she was not supposed to “spoil” the environment of the lab.

Later in life, she spoke at a felicitation function by Indian Women Scientists’ Association and talked about the surprise that such a genius scientist was so narrow-minded.

She worked hard at IISc and completed her MSc degree with distinction. After that year, Raman opened the doors of IISc for female students.

In 1937, she went to UK. With the help of John Hopkins, she submitted a thesis describing her finding of cytochrome C in respiration of plant tissue for her PhD degree making history for India.

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