— The field of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is crucial for societal progress and innovation.
— Recognizing the underrepresentation of women in STEM, the Indian government has taken steps to empower and promote women’s participation through initiatives like Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology (WEST) under the I-STEM program.
Enhancing skills through WEST initiative:
— The WEST initiative aims to provide skill development programs to women with STEM backgrounds, enabling them to contribute effectively to the science and technology ecosystem.
— These programs will equip women with the necessary knowledge and abilities to serve as lab technicians and maintenance engineers, filling vital gaps in the country’s research and development infrastructure.
Increasing women’s representation in STEM:
— India boasts a commendable representation of women in STEM, with over 43% of all STEM graduates being female, a figure among the highest globally (AISHE report 2019-20).
— The Department of Science and Technology (DST) data reveals a substantial increase in the participation of women in extramural research and development projects, as well as in research roles.
Government initiatives promoting women in STEM:
— Several government schemes have been introduced to encourage and support women’s involvement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics:
Women in Science and Engineering-KIRAN (WISE-KIRAN) offers gender-enabling programs to foster women’s participation in S&T fields.
Indo-US Fellowship for Women in STEMM encourages collaborative research opportunities for women scientists and technologists.
“Vigyan Jyoti” program motivates meritorious girls in Class 9-12 to pursue science and technology education and careers.
Women Scientists Scheme (WOS) provides opportunities for women scientists and technologists seeking to return to mainstream careers after a career break.
Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI) seeks to create gender-sensitive and inclusive environments in institutions to enhance gender equity in S&T.
Inspiring women role models in STEM:
— Celebrating the achievements of successful women in STEM can serve as powerful inspiration for the younger generation:
Neena Gupta, an Indian mathematician and recipient of the Ramanujan Prize in 2021.
Dr. N Kalaiselvi, a scientist at CSIR, contributing to foregrounding Indian women’s contributions in science.
Kadambini (Basu) Ganguly, the first female physician of South Asia trained in western medicine.
Dr. Indira Hinduja, the first Indian woman to deliver a test tube baby.
Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-American astronaut and the first Indian woman in space.
— Empowering women in STEM is crucial for driving progress and innovation in India and achieving gender equity.
— Mentorship programs, promoting women role models, and leveraging social media can encourage young girls to pursue STEM careers with confidence.
— Gender equality in STEM fields contributes significantly to the overall development of the nation and aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.