Print Friendly, PDF & Email

India’s Women in Science

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology


Source: IE

 Context: Two books – Lilavati’s Daughters (2008) and Lab Hopping (2023) – highlight the complicated relationship between science and gender in India.


Some notable women scientists of India: Anandibai Joshi (India’s first woman physician), Iravati Karve (India’s first woman anthropologist),  Anna Mani (India’s first woman meteorologist), Dr N Kalaiselvi (currently, at the helm of CSIR), V R Lalithambika (leading the Gaganyaan mission)


Data on women in science in India: As per the latest “Research and Development Statistics 2019-20” of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), India has 16.6% of women researchers directly engaged in R&D activities.


The obstacles that hold women back include:

  • Lack of representation, deeply entrenched patriarchy
  • Institutional apathy
  • Poor working conditions, sexual harassment
  • Familial issues like marriage, family responsibility (twin burden of home and the workplace), relocation due to transferable job of the spouse, etc.


Impact: Dropout from higher studies, career break, overage for scientific jobs and prolonged absence from place of work or even resignation from the job.


The government has taken several corrective steps:

  • Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN) Scheme: Instituted to encourage women in the field of S&T.
    • Women Scientist Scheme (WOS) under KIRAN provides career opportunities, especially for those who had a break in their career.
    • The Mobility Scheme under KIRAN addresses relocation issues of working women scientists and provides support in project mode for 2-5 years.
  • Consolidation of University Research through Innovation and Excellence in Women Universities (CURIE) Programme.
  • Indo-US Fellowship for Women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & Medicine) encourages Indian women scientists to undertake international collaborative research.
  • Vigyan Jyoti Scheme: Encourages girl students of Class 9 to 12 to pursue education and career in S&T.
  • Biotechnology Career Advancement and Re-orientation Programme (BioCARe) of the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  • National Award for woman scientist: To recognize the contribution of women scientists in the field of Earth System Sciences.
  • Multifaceted initiatives (like Women Entrepreneur’s Quest (WEQ) Programme) have been launched by DST to encourage women’s entrepreneurship under Start-up India-Stand up India.



STEMM is the prime engines that have steered national growth and created a self-reliant India. Hence, equal participation of both men and women in STEMM will help India realise ‘Amrit Kaal’ in the true sense.


Insta Links:

Women in Science