Topic: Social empowerment . Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
1. The gender gap in the STEM sector has been snowballing in the past few decades. Critically examine the reasons behind such trend spatially and temporally. (250 words)
Reference: Indian Express
Why this question:
February 11 was celebrated as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, established by the United Nations to promote equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. Thus the context of the question.
Key demand of the question:
The answer must critically examine the reasons behind the widening gender gap in the STEM sector and suggest solutions to overcome the same.
Critically examine – When asked to ‘Examine’, we have to look into the topic (content words) in detail, inspect it, investigate it and establish the key facts and issues related to the topic in question. While doing so we should explain why these facts and issues are important and their implications. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.
Structure of the answer:
Briefly explain key facts indicating the gender gap in the field of Science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
According to a 2018 fact sheet prepared by UNESCO on women in science, just 28.8% of researchers are women. It defines researchers as “professionals engaged in the conception or creation of new knowledge”. In India, this drops to 13.9%.
Highlight more such facts to substantiate the criticality of the gap.
Discuss the underlying causes of it, such as –
- Various studies have found that girls excel at mathematics and science-oriented subjects in school, but boys often believe they can do better, which shapes their choices in higher studies.
- In 2015, an analysis of PISA scores by OECD found that the difference in math scores between high-achieving boys and girls was the equivalent of about half a year at school.
- But when comparing boys and girls who reported similar levels of self-confidence and anxiety about mathematics, the gender gap in performance disappeared — when girls were more anxious, they tended to perform poorly.
Conclude by suggesting solutions to overcome the issue.