Top women scientists gathered on Wednesday to discuss the challenges faced by them in terms of career growth in the field of science and technology and rued that their representation in leadership positions is very low. Speakers at the Women Science Congress, asserted that optimal growth of science and technology would only be possible with equal participation of men and women. They also emphasised on the need for promotion, awareness and policies that can encourage women scientists.
The Women Science Congress, which was inaugurated by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu here today, is being held along with the Indian Science Congress (ISC). H S Savithri, of the biochemistry department in Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, said at present, in India, 40 per cent of the undergraduate students in science and engineering are women. However, their representation as faculties, as heads of laboratories, or as members of governing or advisory board is very low, Savithri said.
Highlighting the issue of very few women in leadership positions in academic institutions and research labs, Prof Nupur Prakash, Vice-Chancellor of the Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women said this happens despite having the right kind of attitude and qualification. “Today, women are in the mainstream of science and many of the world’s top scientists are women,” said Tessy Thomas, scientist from the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Missile Complex, a laboratory under DRDO.
The face of modern science would be unrecognizable without the major contributions made by women, including more than a dozen noble laureates, Thomas said. Sudha Nair, CEO of the Chennai-based Golden Jubilee Biotech Park for Women, advised women scientists to be strong while encountering problems.
“You can cry, get angry, but don’t let people see that that. Have a decorum, maintain balance. That is very important,” Nair said. Vandana Singh, scientist at the Department of Science and Technology under the Department of Science & Technology, said the government has come up with different schemes to promote women scientists ,including the Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement Through Nurturing and said more than 3,700 women scientists have been supported under this scheme so far.