India Needs to Encourage More Young Women Towards STEM Careers

While the rest of the world has a measly benchmark of about 28.4 percent of women working in the research domain, Indian research organizations haven’t been able to catch up to even such a low percentage; out of the 2 lakh scientists, engineers, and technologists in the country, only 14 percent of them are women. While the number of women in science in the higher education domain has increased steadily over the years, the number of women in scientific careers has not shown any progress. So, either Indian women are not getting opportunities to work in such a career, or something is stopping them from taking hold of the available opportunities. 

Women can also best understand and develop technological and scientific solutions for women, like cutting edge medicine and treatments for female illness

Believe it or not, women do bring a different perspective to the STEM fraternity and studies have shown that a diverse group of researchers and intellectuals are smarter than a group made up of men alone. This is advantage enough to want to have more women on a team because who doesn’t want a smarter team that brings fresh new perspectives on various topics and problems. Moreover, women can also best understand and develop technological and scientific solutions for women, like cutting edge medicine and treatments for female illness or even something like menstrual tracking apps. Remember when a certain refused to track a user’s period if the number of days exceeded what was considered to be “normal”, saying that periods should be between one and ten days, not more. Users of this app wondered how many women were actually involved in the creation of this app because it didn’t look like any were based on the app’s knowledge about the female menstrual cycle.

Research is typically not considered as a 9 to 5 job, with demands made on working post these routine hours, on weekends, Indian women, on the other hand, are expected to be more than wage earners

Hence, it is vital that women are needed to ensure that science and technology are not tone-deaf when it comes to gender because everyone uses science and technological advances in their daily life, not just men. Moreover, having more women in STEM means that more young girls will have role models to look up to and hence, will choose to study and make their careers in the field. However, the biggest hurdle for women is maternity and childcare, since many of the policies in research do covertly cater to men. ‘Research is typically not considered as a 9 to 5 job, with demands made on working post these routine hours, on weekends and travel expected for conferences/collaborations. Indian women, on the other hand, are expected to be more than wage earners,’ reports First Post. Hence, the cost of the opportunity to work as a researcher is considerably high because women have to pay with their personal life. Unfortunately, this is the reality for Indian women is all occupations across the country. From providing childcare to flexible work, such opportunities should be made available to both men and women in the industry only then will caregiving be seen as something that is expected from both women and men, and this is what needs to change.

Image credit: Wired

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