SCIENTIST

In the field of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), a metaphor “leaky pipelines” is used to describe the continous loss of women. Just imagine that if water (young girls) is poured into one side of a pipe which is  leaking throughout its length (women leave at various stages), very little water (women at higher positions) is seen emerging out of the pipe. In science courses, there are 35% and just 10% in faculty positions when it gets to research institutes, the number grows lesser and lesser as we go up the order.

Now getting back to the topic, when we Indians hear the word scientist, names like APJ Abdul Kalam, C.V Raman, C.N.R Rao instantly pop into our minds, but no names of women scientists. Does that mean there are no women scientists from this country? No, the reason is that we don’t know them. There are scientists who just happen to be women.

Science is not gender biased, it’s just science, the “why and how of things”.  It’s us who make it that way, who discriminate.

A talented woman who has aims & aspirations, who dreams of making it big in the field of science & research, need not only worry about studying science but also about support from family & understanding of the society and the society is all about “drop out” & then “justify”.

She dreams big and works hard but if something comes down the line of life, she “gives it all up” mostly because it’s “expected” from her.

Women in research should take decisions as per their evaluation and own thought process and not what they’re “expected” to decide or what is mentally forced on them.

In our society, the definition of research is not clear up to a great extent. If a woman who is a doctor goes to hospital in the middle of night for emergency case, nobody around her will object as it is the part and parcel of the job but if a woman who is a scientist has to go for a reading or to perform an experiment at the same time, people won’t understand the need.

Acceptance of the fact that science is important and requires equally demanding life as other professions will encourage women to come out and perform better.

Bringing women to Science-

Reservation is not the solution. Any aspiring female scientist/researcher wants to work in research institutes because of their ability, not because they are given a seat.

In order to keep in check the dynamics of changes in the number of women doing PhD and the number of women in faculty positions, all academic institutes should conduct a gender audit over a certain period of time. This will create a gender-balance in institutes and will help to take necessary measures for reducing the gender gap.

Science is gender-neutral and we should keep it that way. So, let’s hope for the best and wish that after sometime, such discussion would not be required & we’ll all see scientists who just happen to be women.



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