When I started the journey
It was weird for me not to see any Nepalese women with doctorate in Geology during the orientation of Bachelor of Science in Geology in my college. After the program was over, I had asked the seniors if there were any PhD recipients women. They could not name any. One of them said, “Girls seem to be bouncing high during Bachelors and Masters but they are unable to move after their marriage. Geology is all about working in field and nobody permits girls to work in filed. After marriage, it’s over.” There was a big laughter in the hall. This pinched me somewhere.
Is the marriage final obstacle for a girl to pursue her studies after Master? Or, is it the mentality of the so-called high class family who wants their daughter-in-law to be an educated housewife who is not allowed to go college once they are married? It might be the thinking of “ambitious” parents who want their daughter to earn the certificate of Masters Degree for their wedding. There is a fiancé who is waiting for his girl to complete masters soon (to get marry) and doesn’t want his girl to study higher than him. There comes a life-partner who is too unsecure to live on the earnings of his wife. Finally, there comes a GIRL who feels she being a girl should not think of any research as it comprises lots of outings, field work and physical activity.
First time I saw “Woman Geologist”
I met two geologists, Sushmita Bhandari and Kabita Karki, as my field teacher during second year of Bachelors. This was the first time I saw woman geologists in Department of Geology. Both of them now work in Department of Mines and Geology. Every time I saw them, I wanted to be them. They carried a heavy bag, located the stops on the topographical maps too easily, walked too fast (faster than me for sure) and figured out every rocks they saw on the exposures. I wondered how they did. They have been my inspiration from that very time.
One of my relatives had said, “Your decision is wrong. Being a girl, you cannot afford being a student of Geology.” After seeing these two young lady geologists, I felt I did right by choosing Geology. Anyway, it was never a matter of choice; it was a matter of passion. Moreover, my passion got ride when I met these young lady geologists.
So-called Field Nightmare
When geological field work of 17 days in Central Nepal was announced in second year, we heard a lot of stories regarding hardships girls had to face in field. I remember their words. “Girls, you cannot carry rock samples, so make sure to team up with boys. Girls, you cannot hammer the rocks, ask boys to do.” Deep down there was a voice within me. “I will surely carry rock samples as per my ability. If not, I will shape the rocks to small size. I will hammer the rock for sure as the rock actually gets broken as per the strength of hammer. I will have a little difficulty during the periods but that will not hamper my work. I will make sure to learn everything I need to in the field.”
When I actually participated in field work, I did not see any of the stories of fear turning out to be real. There were number of girls in the team actively learning the geology.
Post-Bachelor, finding job was the most difficult part. I started with an internship and gradually started getting exposure in different working places. Through my working days, I rarely got an offer of going for field investigation out of valley for “Geological Field Investigation” or related. Will any family allow a girl to be in hydropower project for several months, hundreds of kilometers away from their home? Or, in any landslide affected area? I doubt that. And what might be the reasons for hesitation of parents for not sending their daughter to remote workplace? I am cent percent sure they would not at all mind their son to go for the same job.
After my under graduation, I have done mostly the table works using ArcGIS for creating maps. I am lucky in case of gaining work experience. But I am not sure if I was paid same amount as my male colleague. I too have heard lot about physical and mental harassments from many. May be this is one of the reasons girls are not getting their way.
I dream of doing geology in field, remote area or wherever needed carrying the hammer, rucksack, maps, rock samples and unraveling the geological mysteries. Like me, there are many girls who are dreamer.
We wish to get opportunities to go in tunnel and mines. We can work day and night like our male friends do. We too have enthusiasm in us like they have. We are nascent students now but we too want pursue doctorate and even post doctorate studies like many male Professors in Department of Geology. We wish we can get the environment where we are fearless to go far and return with colorful accomplishments. We wish our parents would not worry about us when we are out of home till late night in geological site and be sure we are secure. We wish whenever we are weak, our male colleagues would support us instead of making fun of our physical weakness (as compared to them). We wish to get a partner who would understand our dreams and helps us to chase.
We know this will happen someday for sure. By then, “Being a Lady Geologist” would not be tough.
With immense love to Geology,