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Women in the Field of Science and Technology

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  • Last Updated : 28 Sep, 2022
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Even after 75 years of independence and celebrating Amrit Mahotsav, our beloved country is facing problems evident in the Vedic period. The discrimination among genders and degradation of the status of women started during the later Vedic period. Discrimination is evident in every field from the house to the workplace. The women labor force participation is 25.1 percent which is much below than world average of 46 percent. 

One of the fields where discussion about discrimination is quite strong is Science and technology. A conference was held in Israel in November 2021 on the topic of India- Israel women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and mathematics (STEM). It was discussed to provide gender-neutral compensation and flexible work hours to increase women’s participation.

Condition of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM):

Women’s underrepresentation in science exists from recruitment to promotion, leadership, and awards.

Status in India and World:

  • The data suggest that about 43 percent of the STEM graduates are in India. The major concern about this data is only 14 percent only continue their career in STEM.  
  • A survey in 2020 showed that only 89  out of 1,044 members of the Indian National Science Academy were women, amounting to 9 percent.
  • Governing body of the Indian national science Academy had 7 women out of a total of 31 members. It was zero in 2015.               
  • Women are given smaller research grants than males even though they represent 33.3 percent  of total researchers,
  • In the field of Artificial intelligence, only one in five professionals is a woman.
  • Even during the phase of the fourth industrial revolution women only account for 40 % of computer graduates and 28 % of engineering graduates.

Contribution of Females in Science and Technology:

The achievement of males like Abdul kalam Azad, and C.V. Raman is very openly discussed but we very rarely talk about women’s exceptions Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams.

 Some of those names are:

  • Kadambini Ganguly– She was the first female graduate of the British Empire and the first female physician in south Asia.
  • Anna Mani – She was a physicist and meteorologist. Her contribution is in the field of ozone, solar radiation, and wind energy.
  • Dr. Indira Hinduja – She was a gynecologist by profession and developed oocyte donation techniques for menopausal and ovarian failure patients. She was the first woman to deliver a test tube baby.
  • Dr. Aditi Pant – She is an oceanographer and one of the first Indian women to visit Antarctica . she was part of the third Indian expedition to Antarctica                
  • Dr. Suman Sahai – She is the founder of the Gene Campaign in India. She is the brain of the patent campaign for Azadirachta Indica (Neem) and Turmeric.     

Reason for Low Participation:

  • Stereotypes – People still have a mindset that boys are better at science than girls. 
  • Economic concern– Science is quite costlier than arts and commerce.
  • Patriarchy – A male-dominated work environment and gender bias hold women back.
  • fewer women-specific science institutes- women-specific colleges are only 11% in India and the majority of them offer arts and commerce.
  • Lack of Role Models– women’s achievement is a very less discussed topic, rural people still believe moving out of home will spoil them and avoid discussing people who left home for higher studies. 
  • Harassments– Workplace harassment is very common and it scares and keeps women out of work. 

Initiatives by Government for Increasing Participation:                           

  • Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN) Scheme–  It was launched in 2014-15, this was an umbrella scheme under which all women-specific programs were introduced. One program under this was the Woman scientist scheme provided career opportunities to unemployed women scientists and those who had broken and were not able to begin work.
  • Vigyan Jyoti scheme– It was launched to address the underrepresentation of women in the field of science and technology. It began at the school level where students from classes 9 -12 are encouraged to pursue a career in STEM. It provided exposure to rural girls and assisted them in planning careers in science. 
  • Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI) program– It was for developing and assessing a framework for gender equality in STEM.
  • Department of science technology has established an Artificial intelligence lab in women’s universities.
  • Under the Indo- Us fellowship for women, they can work in research labs in the US.
  • Consolidation of University Research for Innovation And Excellence (CURIE) program– It was to improve R&D infrastructure and research facilities to create excellence in S&T in women’s universities.                                                                              

Conclusion:

Science and technology is the field which is growing rapidly and becoming the reason for the development of other sectors. Under-representation of women is a loss of societal and economic development as well. Policies and strategies need to develop to enhance the representation. There is a need for behavioral changes which can be done by bringing them in front and giving responsibility. Woman’s contributions should be openly discussed since primary school. A country’s development will never be completed by keeping the major population under-represented in the most dynamic and in field of endless opportunity.

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