Columns Opinion

Interview: Shubha Tole talks about tracks only women scientists navigate

Shaifali Agarwal

This interview was originally published in the July 15 2016 edition of In Plainspeak, an e‑magazine on issues of sexual and reproductive health in the Global South.

Shubha Tole works as a professor of Neuroscience at The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. She has been recognised and awarded for her research, including being awarded the prestigious Infosys Prize in 2014 for her work on understanding brain development in the embryo.

Shubha is known to be vocal about the unique issues she has faced as a woman scientist. In 2009, as member of a committee to reform the competitive grant system of the Department of Bio-Technology, Government of India, she recommended an exclusive childcare allowance for women postdocs and principal investigators, to encourage higher quality and consistency of childcare.

In an interview with Shaifali Agrawal who volunteers at TARSHI, Shubha talks about social and subconscious biases in society against female scientists, her approach to tackling these challenges, and how she helps her female students maintain a healthy balance between their personal and professional life. She also talks about positive changes that have taken place in the science workplace over the years, and gives some great advice to women who might be second-guessing their capabilities of pursuing a career in science.

Written By

Shaifali, currently volunteering at TARSHI, works as an independent journalist, interested in art, culture, and gender. She is an alumna of Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Delhi; and can be reached at, or on twitter @shaifalihere.