Magaret Sivapragasam has experienced two instances where she was undermined and judged for being a woman and looking a certain way, but she never gave in to her detractors. Instead, she stood her ground and proved them wrong. “As a girl, I was bullied by my peers for being dark-skinned. It was very hurtful but I didn’t let the mean comments get to me. I worked hard and achieved my dreams of becoming a scientist,” she says.
Then, as a scientist she was slammed for wearing makeup! “I wrote about it on Twitter and Facebook and received many responses supporting my statement that women, regardless of their profession, should have the liberty to dress up and put on makeup the way they want without being judged.” Magaret came up with the hashtag #scientistscanwearmakeup in 2017 and many other women have since come forward to share their stories. “Together, we want to break these stereotypes which are shallow and primitive,” she says.
Well-respected for her work, Magaret was selected and honoured as one of 118 chemists from around the world to be a part of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry’s (IUPAC) Periodic Table of Younger Chemists in February. Prior to that, her research on the use of ionic liquids to remove harmful dye substances from industrial wastewater in the batik industry successfully gained recognition from Yale University, USA and Shell Malaysia.
“I wouldn’t have managed to come this far as a scientist (now I’m a lecturer) if it wasn’t for the help and support from my family, friends and fellow women scientists. It’s easy for women to talk about each other but when women work together, magic happens. Together, we are all SuperFEMALES!”
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