60% of 2,000 Indian women PhDs in science unemployed, laments PM
BHUBANESWAR CITING a study disclosing that 60 percent of nearly 2,000 women PhDs in science surveyed were unemployed, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday underlined the need for transparency in selection procedures and also the importance of gender audits.
Inaugurating the 99th Indian Science Congress (ISC), being held from January 3-7, on the theme Science and Technology for Inclusive Innovation - Role of Women, Manmohan Singh said: “In India too women are making a mark in traditionally male bastions and decisively breaking the glass ceiling.” He commended the Department of Science and Technology (DST) for introducing the women scientists’ scheme, which has helped more than 2,000 women scientists resume careers after breaks arising from family commitments.
“However, we should also take note of the results of a study published last year that showed that 60 percent of nearly 2,000 Indian women PhDs in science who were surveyed were unemployed.
The main reason cited was lack of job opportunities.
Only a very small number cited family reasons. This underlines the need for transparency in selection procedures at institutions and also the importance of gender audits,” he said.
The prime minister said the DST was formulating another scheme called DISHA that would help women scientists relocate to other cities.
“The department will create 1,000 contractual positions tenable in publicly funded institutions for this purpose. A fellowship matching the total emoluments of an in-service science and technology professional will be provided when she moves from one station to another,” he said.
Congratulating women scientists, he hoped that their examples would motivate others to take up careers in science, where women are underrepresented.
“The project director of the Agni Missile programme is a woman scientist, Dr Tessy Thomas. Last year, for the first time, three women scientists received the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award, as compared to a total of only 11 women awardees for all the years since 1958 up to then,” he added.
More than 15,000 delegates, including 500 foreign scientists and 20 Nobel laureates, are expected to participate in the five-day event.
In line with this, the ISC is headed by Geetha Bali, vice chancellor of the Karnataka State Women’s University, Bijapur.
She is the fourth woman in the history of the ISC to head the Congress. The last time was in 1999 when the meet was held in Chennai with distinguished biologist Manju Sharma presiding.
For the first time a Women’s Science Congress is being held parallel to the ISC and it will be inaugurated by Indian ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao on Thursday.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit will also take part in the event.