At the inaugural event of a three-day conference on “Women in Science” at Indian Institute of Science, Dr Manju Sharma, chairperson of the National Academy of Sciences and Former Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Biotechnology, spoke about women in science. Here she raised an important point. Times of India reported her saying: “What we see is a tragic waste of human capital. I attend convocations of universities across the country and find that 90 per cent of the toppers are women. Where do they go after winning gold medals?”
Dr.Sharma believes that just providing reservations for women in the sector, is not enough, adding academic institutions should nurture the female talent from the beginning. The Deccan Herald reported her saying, “Women constitute half the humanity, yet the number of women in mathematics, physics, engineering etc is low. We must identify them by their talent. Reservation is not the sole criterion. We have to go by merit and excellence and we can find so many such women”
She added that women in the science fields rarely rise up the ladder in academic or research branches, pointing out that on her recent visit to a conference of agricultural universities, she did not find a single woman among the 30 vice-chancellors present. She urged women at the inaugural event to continue working in the sector.
She also said, “Whenever young women join doctoral programmes, seniors should encourage them to continue in science. The role of directors of various science institutes is important. We need to move beyond talks of gender equity, reservation, etc. and utilize the talent of women as they bring in new perspectives. There’s a need for a change in mindset and attitude among policy-makers too.”
[Picture Credits: FAO UN]