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Women in science are underrepresented throughout their careers, including in recruiting and promotion, awards, selection to science academies as members/fellows, and leadership positions in scientific institutions.

Women’s representation in science academies reflects their status in the scientific community as a whole.

Only 89 women out of 1,044 members of the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) are female, according to a study performed in 2020. In 2015, it was much worse, with only 6% of the 864 members being female scientists.

Similarly, in 2020, INSA’s governing body included seven women out of 31 members, but in 2015, there were none.

Body Causes of Women’s Underrepresentation in Science –

Stereotypes:

  • Women’s underrepresentation in STEM is attributable not only to a lack of skills, but also to conventional gender roles that have been assigned to them.
  • It is still acceptable to consider a woman scientist’s parental or life-partner status when considering whether or not to hire her or promote her to a leadership position, regardless of her qualifications.
  • Women spouses of previously hired faculty, no matter how qualified, will not be hired, according to a prevalent practise.

Causes of Patriarchy and Society:

  • When it comes to recruiting methods or giving fellowships and grants, patriarchal views exist.
  • Stressors associated to marriage and childbearing, cultural pressures to adhere to societal norms and trappings of domesticity – responsibilities for household management and elder care – all contribute to women’s underrepresentation in these ‘non-traditional’ sectors.
  • Organizational issues have also played a significant influence in preventing gender equity. More women may be deterred from pursuing these industries due to a lack of female leaders and role models.

Lack of supportive institutional structures:

  • Women leave the workforce due to a lack of supportive institutional structures during pregnancy, as well as safety concerns in the field and at work.
  • Women are underrepresented in these occupations for a variety of reasons, including societal standards, insufficient education, and lack of healthcare access.

Actions that can be made to help lessen inequality –

The role of science academies:

  • While the current issue stems from the greater issue of women’s underrepresentation in all areas of life, its continuation in science indicates that scientists and science academies must adopt policies and tactics to improve women’s representation.
  • More importantly, science academies must consider their role and contributions in promoting and retaining women in science, resulting in a more inclusive and responsive science.

Changing People’s Mindsets:

  • Gender involvement is hampered by social-economic difficulties that can be addressed through behavioural change.
  • This can be changed if more women are promoted to positions of leadership.
  • Women’s contributions to STEM should be recognised in textbooks, making them role models for the next generation of girls interested in becoming STEM leaders.
  • It is critical that we recognise and address the discrimination and institutional barriers that hinder more women from pursuing careers in science.

Manifold Realization The Importance of Women’s Representation in Science and Technology:

  • In order to construct inclusive and sustainable societies, women’s representation in science and technology is critical.
  • Gender equality is a commercial issue as well as an ethical obligation. Companies with more diversity in their leadership teams enjoy higher earnings and stronger innovative capabilities.
  • We must all step up our efforts to quickly transform the current quo. Families, educational institutions, businesses, and governments must all join the battle against gender imbalance.
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