The recently held Women Science Congress, held at Manipur University, revealed the true face of gender bias in Indian science. There were just two women speakers amid a number of male scientists.

Stats show disparity

To take a few statistics in perspective, only one-fourth of the scientific faculty in various institutions and universities across the country constitutes women. Biological research institutions fare a little better in terms of gender equality, but the rest is all the same.

Only 14% of the total 2.8 lakh scientists, engineers and technologists employed in R&D institutions in India are women. This translates to just 39,389 women. Globally, the average is 28.4%, TOI reported.

While IIT may have reserved seats and subsidised fee for its women students, only 10% women have applied in its various branches. To fuel the argument further, Indian National Science Academy, Indian Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Agricultural Sciences have awarded only 5% of its fellowships to women.

In the space science category, ISRO has just 8% women working in its scientific and technical department. It is a matter of great shame that since its emergence, not a single woman has ever headed the organisation.

ALSO READ: Why India Must Promote Women in Technology and Sciences

The Challenge

Talking to SheThePeople.TV, Anu Acharya, Mapmygenome founder, had said in an interview, “How many women receive higher education? Among the well educated ones, there are many whose families don’t allow them to work, because ‘people’ believe that financial independence is not essential for women. We have to increase the funnel to make the statistics better.”

She added: “Biases and perceptions hold women out of these fields. With advances in technology, it has become easier for women to be able to choose these careers and there are several outstanding examples. We have to increase the funnel to make the statistics better.”

There are only 14% women in a total of 2.8 lakh scientists, engineers and technologists employed in R&D institutions in India, which comes to 39,389 women. However, the global average is 28.4%

Women in science seldom report discrimination. Recently, scientists across the country protested against Professor Atul Johri of JNU’s School of Life Sciences for sexually assaulting women researchers in his term.

Male-dominated profession

A global online implicit association test shows that 70% participants associate men with science and women with arts.

A research of OECD countries reveals that in all of the graduates with science degrees, only 43% women end up working in in physics, mathematics and engineering in comparison to 71% men. It also noted that most women take up teaching as a profession after studying science in their graduation and post graduation.

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