GS Paper 3
Syllabus: Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology
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.