India: A new era of Gender Equality in Science

Gender disparity in science

Gender inequality is the social system by which men and women are not looked upon as equals. The difference may arise based on biology, psychology, or cultural norms. Some of these differences are empirically-grounded while others seem to be socially established.

India: A new era of Gender Equality in Science
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• Across the planet, women scientists have been in the lead of ground-breaking research.

• But despite their extraordinary discoveries, globally they still comprise only 29 % of researchers. In India, the figures are even less.

• Globally only 3% of the Nobel Prizes for science have been rewarded to women, and only 11% of senior research positions are held by women.

• According to a 2018 fact sheet organized by UNESCO on women in science, just 28.8% of experimenters are women. In India, this is placed at 13.9%.

What is the current stature of women’s representation in science?

Image source: UN News

•In the 2018 Global Gender Gap report, India is researched 108 out of 149 countries.

•According to DST figures, the stake of women included in scientific R&D boosted from 13% to 29% from 2000-2001 to 2014-15 & it reduced to 14.71% in 2015-16.

•It is found that women are either not promoted or constantly dropped out during their mid-career to give attention to their families.

•Hence pilot programme-Gender Advancement through Transforming Institutions- identical to Athena SWAN will be inaugurated in India to deal with the issue.

What is Athena SWAN(Scientific Women’s Academic Network)?

The Open University has collected four Bronze Athena SWAN awards/Image source: Open University

•It is an examination and accreditation program commenced by the UK in 2005 to enhance gender equity in the field of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM).

•Participating Institutes are rated relying on the enrolment of women and the improvement of the employment of women faculty and scientists.

•Institutions formulate action plans to improve gender equity & are recognized by accrediting them with bronze, silver, or gold trophies.

How well it has worked so far?

Data of bmj/ Image source: bmj open

• In 2019, Ortus Economic Research in cooperation with Loughborough University disclosed that 93% of participants believed that the program had an optimistic impact on gender problems, 78% said it had influenced equality and diversity issues completely, and 78% noted a favorable impact on the career progression of women.

• Research in BMJ found that in the five years since the proposal was commenced, partaking institutions had an elevated number of female administrators than non-Athena institutions, and gender variousness in leadership responsibilities also enhanced

• In 2011, the Chief Medical Officer for England linked the funding of the National Health Service and National Institute for Health Research with the Athena SWAN award to motivate and incentivize medical schools to empower women’s growth and leadership. This policy decision led to a 400% boost in Athena SWAN applications from medical and medical-related bureaus.

• Today, the program has 170 member organizations across UK and Ireland. Australia has approved it under the name of SAGE (Science Australia Gender Equity) and has 40 organizations affiliated. Canada, U.S.A, and India are presently in transitional levels in executing it.

How it can be implemented in India?

Image source: The Times of India

• In India, it will be named, GATI (Gender Advancement through Transforming Institutions).

• Since most of the universities, excluding IITs and NITs, are run and financed by the government, DST has to intervene with them to provoke changes in institutional strategies, recruitment & improvements.

• The DST has bounded with NAAC to lift gender equity through it.
• It is scheduling for intensive gender sensitization programs among the leading institutions.

• It aims to boost women members in nomination committees during recruitment procedures.

• In the future, the DST is inclined to evaluate policy changes such as capitalizing financial incentives through pensions to institutes based on their achievement which is identical to the UK.

What are some Government Initiatives to curtain gender inequity in Science?

Vigyan Jyoti Scheme:

Vigyan Jyoti summer camp for girl students at IIT-J/ Image source: The Life of Science

• Vigyan Jyoti Scheme is inaugurated by the Department of Science & Technology (DST).
• It is aspired to establish a level-playing field for the merit girls in high school to continue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in their higher education.

• It also proposes orientation for girl students from rural backgrounds to assist to plan their journey from school to a job of their intention in the field of science.

GATI Scheme:

• The Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI) will formulate a comprehensive Charter and a framework for examining Gender Equality in STEM.

How will the pilot program takeoff?

• Initially 25 institutes will be shortlisted to carry out self-assessment tests on gender equity in their units.

• Then British Council will help DST and stimulate collaboration between appointed institutions under GATI with Athena SWAN-accredited organizations in the UK, with each organization here having a spouse institute in the UK for advice.

Also read:

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