Women hams ride the radio wave in India

Fascinating story on Scroll.in about amateur radio in India, including some references as well to the peculiar culture of gender that has evolved since the earliest days:

 

The term YL, or young lady, meaning an unmarried woman of any age, was coined in 1920 as a concession to the growing number of female hams. In time, when women married, they became known as XYLs, or ex-young ladies. After women operators in 1940 took umbrage to the second term, it became convention to call any licensed female ham, regardless of marital status, YL. Unlicensed wives of operators are XYLs. Men, regardless of marital status, are OM or old man.

Prasad is something of a trailblazer in the world of hams in India, with more awards and felicitations than she can list.

She became a ham in 1980, when there were perhaps only 50 YLs in India. She was a science student, but not familiar with electronics. Nor did she know English at the time, having studied in her first language, Telugu, until then. When she expressed interest in joining up, she faced stiff opposition from her community.

“Because my family are Brahmins, the Brahmins said, ‘No, no, you should not talk to gents. When you go on the radio, you will talk to gents only, no ladies’,” said Prasad. “But my brother-in-law supported me and said that if I become a ham, as a YL, I would be very popular. So I said okay.”

Prasad worked overtime to pick up the skills she needed. Today, she is among the most prominent hams in the country. Her call sign, or unique identifier with which she introduces herself while operating her radio, is VU2RBI.

Do check out the whole article!

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