Britain’s leading astronomer, Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell has announced that she will donate the sum of £ 2.3 million to fund women physics researchers from ethnic minorities and refugee groups. This amount had been given as Breakthrough Prize for her scientific contribution to discovery of radio pulsars and scientific leadership. Announcing the donation, Dame Jocelyn stated that as she personally did not need the money it could best be used for assisting under-represented women in the field of scientific research to encourage fresh ideas. She has been a source of inspiration for several women scientists in the field of research across the world.
Though she was the first person to observe and carry out research about astronomical objects or radio pulsars her name was not mentioned when her male co-workers received a Nobel Prize for its discovery in 1974. She stated that the money would help counter the “unconscious bias” against female scientists that is present in scientific research. Dame Jocelyn believes that her feeling of alienation as a young female student at the prestigious Cambridge University several decades ago, gave her impetus to think along new lines and discover radio pulsars.
She feels that being a minority makes one more productive and bring fresh perspective to existing fields of scientific discovery. While acknowledging Prof Jocelyn’s generous announcement, the present president of Institute of Physics Prof Dame Julia Higgins stated that Jocelyn’s act is an example of her work towards bringing unrepresented groups into scientific community. The scholarship is likely to help women from ethnic minorities and refugee groups that are looking to make a mark in the world of scientific research. Professor Burnell stated that the scholarship amount is aimed at encouraging women to develop scientific mindset towards physics and break glass ceilings in Nobel prizes that are biased towards established names in the scientific world.