Academia, research, and the glass ceiling in India
Gender parity is more than a diversity rectification issue in India. Gender discrimination in academics is not new to the Indian context, it’s an age-old story that must end.
Gender-Bias Against women: Changing Situation
- The general bias against women which arose out of the suspected capability of their intelligence and their mettle in undertaking the arduous task of research was quite common in the 20th century. Things have changed and the glass ceiling has been broken.
- Some of the initiatives by the government to remove gender inequality by providing incentives to women are: Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI), and Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN), i.e., a plan under the Department of Science and Technology again to encourage women scientists in science and technology and also preventing women scientists from giving up research due to family reasons, are noteworthy.
Women and STEM:
- According to UNESCO’s data on some selected countries, India is in the lowest position, having only 14% female researchers working in STEM areas. But India is not very far behind many advanced countries in this aspect. For example, Japan has only 16% female researchers, the Netherlands 26%, the United States 27%, and the United Kingdom 39%.
- In India, about 43% of women constitute the graduate population in STEM, which is one of the highest in the world, but only 14% of women join academic institutions and universities. According to a report published recently, at most STEM institutes, women occupy 20% of all professorial positions. The more prestigious the institute, the lower the number of women employees. Also, the number of female participants in decision-making bodies is abysmally low.