Women’s role in science technology jobs takes centre stage at Indian event

The role of women in science has been the focus of attention at an event in India as the government and industry work to provide more opportunities for female scientists.

At the 99th Indian Science Congress in Calcutta the theme was about inclusive innovation and prime minister Manmohan Singh used his speech to highlight the vital steps the country needs to take to encourage more women to pursue science careers.

Women studying for PhD but no science jobs

He noted that in 2011 there were 2,000 women with PhDs in science, yet 60 per cent of them were unemployed. While family reasons were cited in some instances, Dr Singh stressed that there were a lack of job opportunities available to women in technology.

Asian Age reported that currently women account for less than 15 per cent of scientists in India.

“This underlined the need for transparency in selection procedures at institutions and also the great importance of gender audits,” the prime minister said, a thought that will resonate with many women in the UK facing similar gender audits.

Creating technology jobs for women

India is taking steps to improve the situation. The Department of Science and Technology (DST) used the Science Congress to mark the launch of an initiative to create more science and technology jobs for women.

A scheme, called DISHA, aims to offer five-year scholarships to women up to the age of 55 working in physical sciences, earth sciences, atmospheric sciences, mathematical and life sciences. It is particularly targeted to women who have taken breaks in their careers and the scheme has already created 1,000 contractual positions for working women wanting to relocate.

Offer flexible working to women

Another way to plug the gender gap in science is for companies and those in technology recruitment to be more flexible. Anna-purni Subramanian from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics told Asian Age: “We need to adopt a more flexible approach. If students are not able to finish their PhDs, they should be allowed to reduce the number of courses in a semester and carry forward their work to another semester. They must also be allowed to adopt flexible timings.”

Speaking at the Science Congress, Dr Daggubati Purandeswari, minister of state for human resource development, said that women can “bring a wave of creative and generative energy in the field of science and technology”.

“In order to expedite the process of development and take our country towards new heights of excellence, it is essential that we take to a process of massive application of science and technology in the realm of womankind,” she added.

Prime minister Singh welcomed the schemes launched by the DST to support women returning to work and using their skills in science-based roles.

Governments from across the world could adopt similar schemes after Meg Whitman, chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, recently said that gender diversity at senior level has “flat lined”.

Interested in hiring more women in IT jobs into your organisation? Get in touch with womenintechnology’s recruitment services team.

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