Apart from a few notable individual achievements, the overall participation of women in scientific research has been very low. Examine the steps taken by the government in this regard.
Women workforce in the field of scientific research (STEM) is around 23% in India, which is very low as compared to world standards. Except some examples in different fields, like the women’s team of ISRO in the Mangalyaan mission, achievements have been very few.
Reasons for low participation of women:
- Stereotypical gender roles with the confinement of women in certain professions, e.g Pink collared jobs.
- Women have sole responsibility for childhood care, accentuated by government measures like Maternity Benefit Act, which prevents employers from hiring married women.
- Migration due to marriage, studies of children, etc.
- Educational opportunities for girl students are limited. Only 20% of Girls opt for science-based graduation.
- Work environment such as security concerns, low appreciation at work, misogynistic attitudes, etc.
Since CSIR has instituted Bhatnagar Award for excellence in scientific research, only 20 women have been awarded since 1960.
To tackle the situation government has taken several steps:
- KIRAN scheme with components of migration-related issues, better infrastructure availability for women scientists, mobility issues, etc taken care of.
- UDAAN Scheme of MHRD focuses on providing free resources to girl students who take engineering courses.
- Women scientists programme to increase participation of women, especially married and out-of-employment to rejoin scientific research field.
These steps must be complemented with an increase in the overall participation of women in all spheres, viz. political, social, and economic. It would remove gender bias in society and promote inclusive development envisaged in SDG-5.