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Women in Engineering Science and Technology (WEST)

Focus: GS III: Science and Technology

Why in News?

A new I-STEM (Indian Science Technology and Engineering facilities Map) initiative called “Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology (WEST)” was launched by, Scientific Secretary, Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the Government of India on 5th September 2022. 

About WEST programme:

  • The WEST programme will cater to women with a STEM background and empower them to contribute to the science, technology, and innovation ecosystem. 
  • Through the WEST initiative, I-STEM shall provide a separate platform to scientifically inclined women researchers, scientists, and technologists for pursuing research in basic or applied sciences in frontier areas of science and engineering. 
  • Women may join the WEST program and explore opportunities to become stakeholders in various domains and pursue careers in R&D at various levels: technicians, technologists, scientists, and entrepreneurs.
    • Opportunities range from operating scientific equipment and maintaining them, to designing and manufacturing them.
  • The Skill Development programmes under the WEST initiative will provide training for women with S&T backgrounds to brush up on their abilities and become engaged “in the field” as lab technicians and maintenance engineers, filling crucial gaps in the R&D infrastructure of the country.
  • This initiative will also help bring women back into S&T domains after a career break.
  • With this experience, women can become entrepreneurs to serve as consultants for the operation and maintenance of sophisticated equipment/instruments through the I-STEM platform. This would go a long way towards filling a “skills gap”, and putting publicly-funded equipment to good use.
  • Under the WEST initiative, the current support being provided to S&T startups by women entrepreneurs by I-STEM will be enhanced.
  • A dedicated team of women will ensure the successful implementation of the WEST initiative.

Indian Science Technology and Engineering facilities Map (I-STEM)

  • An initiative of Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Govt. of India under the PM-STIAC mission.
  • The goal is to strengthen the R&D ecosystem.
  • Done by connecting researchers with resources in part by promoting technologies and scientific equipment development indigenously.
  • Also by providing necessary supplies and supports to researchers.
  • This will enable them to access existing R&D facilities through the I-STEM web portal.
  • The portal hosts the database of facilities across India.
  • Presently, the portal lists more than 25,000 pieces of equipment from 850 institutions across the country.
  • It has more than 20,000 Indian researchers.
  • The portal also features a Digital Catalogue of indigenously developed technologies.

Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM STIAC) 

  • It is a 21 member advisory council that advises the PM on science, technology, as well as innovation. It also coordinates implementation of PMs scientific vision.
  • It aids in the formulation and timely implementation of major science and technology missions and evolves interdisciplinary technology development programmes.
  • It also advises the government on developing ‘Clusters of Excellence’ in science including city-based R&D clusters.
  • It also aims to bring together all science and technology partners from academia and institutes to industries near such centres or cities.

February 2024