The ‘ant woman’ on values in science

“Scientists for the past 70 years were like, ‘We don’t do values. We just do science. Values are for other people.’ I think that’s a wrong attitude. Science and values have to go hand in hand. It is a human identity and we have to decide what are we going to add in science”

HYM26CHARLOTTE4_2711346fCharlotte Sleigh, lecturer in the School of History at the University of Kent, Canterbury, is in India as part of the British Council’s ‘Science and Beyond’ series. While Charlotte elaborates on ‘some of the difficult things,’ her tone changes when she speaks of the ‘enormous excitement about science and technology in India. Science is a great possibility. It is a genuine social wide phenomenon. I should also say that all those scientists in India, their work is of exceptional quality. They work under a lot of limitation and challenges. So, it is a kind of mixed picture.”

Charlotte has been known as ‘the ant woman’ on account of her research into the history of myrmecology, the science of ants. “They (ants) teach you patience, to work hard and in harmony,” she smiles and adds, “I see them as mini computer systems because of the way they share information with one another.”

Charlotte exhorts scientists to bring in a new approach in their field of work. “Scientists for the past 70 years were like, ‘We don’t do values. We just do science. Values are for other people.’ I think that’s a wrong attitude. Science and values have to go hand in hand. It is a human identity and we have to decide what are we going to add in science,” she says and adds, “It is also practical; we have to know where we are going to put that money – whether it is public or private with the things that we choose to buy. We have to say what we value.”

Read the article in The Hindu and check her India itinerary in the British Council website

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