16% of Indian science researchers are women, says govt, admits it’s ‘much lower than in advanced countries’

16% of Indian science researchers are women, says govt, admits it’s ‘much lower than in advanced countries’

No plans to enhance incentives & scholarships as of now, Union Minister Jitendra Singh informs Rajya Sabha. Punjab, J&K, Telangana fare better in women scientists scheme.

Representational image | Pixabay

Representational image | Pixabay

New Delhi: India has a total of 56,747 female researchers which is 16.6 per cent of total researchers in the country, the government told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

There are no plans to enhance incentives and scholarships for them as of now, Minister for Science and Technology Jitendra Singh said in reply to an unstarred question from YSRCP MP Beesetti Venkata Satyavathi.

In reply to a separate question about the uptake of women scientists scheme, Singh said that in 2021-22 and 2022-23, a total of 172 and 199 women scientists were selected out of 490 and 708 candidates, who applied under the Women Scientists Scheme-A (WOS-A).

The WOS-A for research in basic and applied sciences is aimed at bringing back women who earlier dropped out for some reasons, back to the scientific workforce. It provides opportunities to women scientists and technologists in the age group of 27-60 years who want to return to mainstream science and work as bench-level scientists. 

In its reply to the question asked by Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi, the state-wise data submitted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) shows that Punjab (31.82 per cent success rate in 2021-22 and 42.31 per cent in 2022-23, Jammu and Kashmir (33.3 per cent success rate in 2021-22 and 54 per cent in 2022-23) and Telangana (45.71 per cent success rate in 2021-22 and 22 per cent in 2022-23) are some of the better performing states under the programme.

The overall success rate nationally stood at 35 per cent in 2021-22 and 28.11 per cent in 2022-23.

‘Number of female researchers lower’

In his reply to Satyavathi’s question, Singh conceded that the proportion of women in the scientific workforce is lower in India than in advanced countries.

“Government is aware that the number of female researchers in the country is much lower than that in the advanced countries. The government has taken several steps to increase the number of female researchers in the country which includes implementation of women scientist specific schemes of DST to provide opportunities to women scientists and technologists, especially those who had a break in career…,” Singh said.

Among the programmes listed by the government aimed at increasing female participation were the Consolidation of University Research through Innovation and Excellence in Women Universities (CURIE) programme of DST and the Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI).

While the CURIE provides support for development of research infrastructure in women’s universities, the GATI aims to transform institutions for a more gender sensitive approach and inclusiveness. The GATI’s ultimate goal is to improve the gender equity in STEMM (Science, Technology Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine). 

(Edited by Tony Rai)

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