Young girls with an aptitude for science and technology will get an opportunity to train with some leading women scientists of the country. The ‘Vigyan Jyoti’ initiative of the Department of Science and Technology will select 60 girl students of Class XI, especially from rural Maharashtra, for the programme.

Beginning in June, the state has fixed 14 centres for the selection of young girls for this month-long program. They have chosen Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, as nodal centres to host the initiative which will take 30 students each.

“This is the newest initiative taken to boost women participation in the field of scientific research and engineering, both areas where there are fewer women representations. During the pilot phase this year, students studying in Class XI will be selected,” Vandana Singh, head of Women’s Science Programmes at DST told The Indian Express.

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The initiative is open for girls from schools and colleges and will choose them on the basis of their aptitude for science and engineering. Members from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Indian Statistical Institute, Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology, Anna University, IISER, Pune, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women (IGDTUW) and Indian Institute of Technology formulated the project at a meeting held in September last year. Members came from various states like New Delhi, Bombay, Bhubaneswar, Indore, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Palakad, Jodhpur, Gandhinagar and Mandi for the meeting.

“This is the newest initiative taken to boost women participation in the field of scientific research and engineering, both areas where there are fewer women representations”

Singh also spoke about the budget for the initiative and nature of the month-long residential programme. She said, “Each centre has received a grant of Rs 15 lakh. This will also include a stipend amount of Rs 5,000 for girl students. They will mainly be engaged in various science lectures, visits to scientific laboratories and institutes — where they can learn about numerous streams of science and get closer to witnessing actual research in labs — all undertaken by women scientists.”

IISER Pune, nodal officer G Ambika spoke about the latest preparations and said, “The centre has received the sanctioned budget of Rs 15 lakh. We will chalk out the schedule for the programme and IISER’s Science Outreach Cell will help us in identifying students.”

Asked how the institution will select the students, Ambika said, “We will primarily look at the Class X scores along with understanding their aptitude towards both science and engineering. We will keep the programme multi-lingual so that all students will benefit.”

The selected girls will also learn computational and communication skills for overall development.

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