Women in STEM: Relevance
- GS 3: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Women in STEM: Context
- Recently, Ministry of Science & Technology hosted the India-Israel Women in STEM conference to achieve gender parity in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Women in STEM benefits
- Greater women’s participation in the tech sector will make women stronger and more influential, giving a boost to their socio-economic situation in the society.
- S&T could become a changemaker in society by introducing flexible work times, and gender-neutral pays to enhance women participation in STEM.
- Increased women participation in tech fields is an investment for the country’s advancement in the future and joint conference like these could be a guiding platform in this direction.
Women in STEM: Issues
- There are areas in science which have seen remarkable progress in women participation; however, areas like Physics, Engineering and Mathematics need a course correction
- One of the major issues regarding women’s participation in STEM fields is gendered brain-drain in STEM. UNESCO in 2019 reported this issue, which is also evident in the gender gap at higher studies in science, particularly at the doctorate and post-doctorate levels.
Women in STEM: Role of government
- Government needs to play a major role in generating enablers to allow greater women’s participation like joint programmes that connect incubation centres in the two countries and setting up incubation centres just for women.
Government steps to increase women in STEM
- SERB-POWER (Promoting Opportunities for Women in Exploratory Research)
- The Scheme is aimed to mitigate gender disparity in science and engineering research funding in various S&T programs in Indian academic institutions and research and development (R&D) laboratories, address comparatively lower participation of women scientists in research activities and to identify and support competitive women researchers in the country.
- Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN)
- This scheme of DST had been instituted to encourage women scientists through various programmes in the field of Science and Technology (S&T).
- ‘Women Scientist Scheme (WOS)’ under KIRAN provides career opportunities including fellowships to unemployed women scientists and technologists, especially those who had a break in career, for pursuing research in frontier areas of science and engineering.
- Consolidation of University Research through Innovation and Excellence in Women Universities (CURIE)
- This programme only women Universities are being supported for development of research infrastructure and creation of state-of-the-art research laboratories to enhance women’s participation in S&T domain.
- Indo-US Fellowship for Women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & Medicine) encourages Indian women scientists and technologists to undertake international collaborative research in premier institutions in USA for duration of 3-6 months.
- “Vigyan Jyoti” Scheme encourages girl students of class 9 to 12 to pursue education and career in S&T particularly in the areas where women are under represented.
- The SERB Women Excellence Award recognizes women Academy Awardees to expand their research horizon to higher levels.
- In addition, Department of Biotechnology (DBT) is also implementing ‘Biotechnology Career Advancement and Re-orientation Programme (BioCARe)’ to encourage women scientists in Biotechnology research.
- Women Entrepreneur’s Quest (WEQ) Programme was initiated by DST in partnership with Anita Borg Institute, USA for scouting and supporting Women Entrepreneurs in Technology. A total of 42 start-ups have been supported so far and 21 start-ups have grown to next level.
- Women Start-up Program (WSP) of DST in partnership with Goldman Sachs aims to support ambitious and innovative women entrepreneurs by enabling them to transform their idea into a business venture. WSP reached out to 6200 women across the country through Massive Open Online Course program.
Women in STEM: Way forward
- Government policy, support from family and work area and self-motivation could help enable women empowerment.