Ritu Karidhal was the project manager of the Mars Orbiter Mission.

Ritu Karidhal says women should have confidence in themselves and not give issue of gender much thought.

Two years back when the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched the country’s first space probe that would orbit Mars labelled Mangalyaan, one picture stood out. It was that of ISRO’s women scientist celebrating, all of them dressed in Kanjeevaram sarees and with flowers in their hair. Comfortable with their femininity, these women had broken the glass ceiling and how!Ritu Karidhal who was the project manager of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) brushes aside any talk of gender inequality and says, “ISRO provides equal opportunity to everyone. What matters most is your talent and not gender.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Karidhal joined the organisation back in 1997 and has worked on several missions as the operations director, project manager and deputy project manager for several missions.And what is it that motivated this middle class girl from Lucknow to reach for planets beyond? “I was fascinated with space sciences since childhood. My interest and the support of my parents made me the person I am today.”Karidhal is of the opinion that while many students enter pure sciences, retaining talent will be possible only when one gives importance to new fields of work, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.She also believes that while the number of women entering the field was less a few years ago, today most show courage and enthusiasm.A strong support system pushes most working professionals towards greater heights, it is especially crucial when you are a working mother of two young children. Karidhal adds, “The support given by my family was huge and it made it possible for me to work, sometimes for 24 to 36 hours continuously.” She is of the opinion that women are better at multi-tasking and her message to working women is, “Have confidence in your capability without giving your gender much thought. Be focussed on your goal and work with complete dedication.”(Ritu Karidhal will be speaking at the TEDxGateway, Mumbai, on December 5, 2015, at NCPA)
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What matters is talent, not gender: ISRO scientist Ritu Karidhal