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Gender Equality. Pixabay.

New Delhi, July 24, 2017: Women in STEMM India workshop which was held last year in November, was organized by the UK, Australian and Indian government highlighted the importance of promoting women in the field of science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) academic and professional endeavors.

It was observed in the workshop’s Summary Report that there is a very limited data available on the number of women working in STEMM in India. They also cited many reasons as to why there are so few of them working in these areas; a lack of role model in the family often acts as a demoralizing factor. When they do take part in the education programs in these fields, they are predominantly softer subjects or more suitable for women. While the so-called ‘hard’ science like- physics, observes a lack of participation from women.

Often the intensive coaching programs, which helps invigilate student’s preparations for qualifying admissions in these courses see a lack of participation from women, or are often made unavailable to them. If somehow they manage to enter employment in STEMM field their opportunities decline as they climb up the professional ladder, limiting their roles and responsibilities.

It was also observed in a keynote speech, that not only to women fall behind in numbers in STEMM but they’re equally invisible in other fields – be it for the lack of support system or be it the cultural boundaries. Many women after marriage end up being stay-at-home wives while the man of the house is ‘manned’ up for these jobs.

The report’s first recommendation was to create a proposal to extend the Athena SWAN charter framework in India to the Indian National Science Academy. Athena SWAN Charter was laid out by ECU which is headed in the UK.

The UK based Equality Challenge Unit laid out a proposal co-authored by Indian National Science Academy to bring their Athena SWAN charter in India; the charter was established in 2005 to promote women in higher education, research, and employment in STEMM. It was later extended to arts, humanities, social science, business and law (AHSSBL), and in professional and support roles, and for trans staff and students. Universities are promoted to encourage a progress on equality and diversity, and the Athena SWAN charter recognizes their commitment to bringing this change by awarding them upon monitoring their progress and contribution.

Women in STEMM workshop was attended by ECU’s Athena SWAN manager, Dr Ruth Gillian, who said: ‘At the heart of ECU’s Athena SWAN charter is the advancement of gender equality for all, therefore I am pleased to see a commitment to promote and increase the participation and progression of women in STEMM careers by proposing the introduction of an Athena SWAN framework in India.’

‘ECU looks forward to partnering with the Indian Science Academies’ inter-academy panel to develop this proposal’, she added.

The report was concluded on the note that uniform data sources in STEMM and gender equality be identified in India, Australia, and the UK so that the issue can be reported systematically.

-Prepared by Nivedita Motwani of NewsGram. Twitter @Mind_Makeup


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