Indias push for gender equity in science
28/11/2020

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         Background:
  • India is ranked 108 out of 149 countries in the 2018 Global Gender Gap report.
  • According to DST figures, in 2015-16, the share of women involved in scientific research and development was 14.71% — after it had actually increased from 13% in 2000-2001 to 29% in 2014-15.
  • The DST has also found that women are either not promoted, or very often drop out mid-career to attend to their families,
  • In order to address it,
Recently, Department of Science and Technology (DST) has drafted Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, which aims to increase the participation of women in science.
What are the provisions of the draft that will lead to participation of women
  • DST will incorporate a system of grading institutes depending on the enrolment of women and the advancement of the careers of women faculty and scientists. The concept borrows from a programme started by the UK in 2005 called the Athena SWAN (Scientific Women’s Academic Network), which is now being adopted by many countries.
  • In India, it will be called GATI (Gender Advancement through Transforming Institutions).
 
 
What is Athena SWAN:
  • The Athena SWAN Charter is an evaluation and accreditation programme in the UK enhancing gender equity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).
  • Participating research organisations and academic institutions are required to analyse data on gender equity and develop action plans for improvement. The programme recognises such efforts with bronze, silver or gold accreditation. 
  • The Institutions works on
  • addressing unequal gender representation;
  • tackling the gender pay gap
  •  removing the obstacles faced by women in career development and progression
  •  discriminatory treatment often experienced by trans people
  • gender balance of committees and zero tolerance for bullying and sexual harassment
 
As per th report by Ortus Economic Research in partnership with Loughborough University found that 93% of participants believed the programme had a positive impact on gender issues.
 
What are the challenges ahead and steps taken by DST to address them?
  • Addressing the red tapism in university: DST will need to encourage university to join the scheme also need to work  around government red tape as most universities have.
  • As a result, the DST has tied up with National Assessment and Accreditation Council, under the UGC, aiming to push gender equity through them.
  • The DST plans to run intensive gender sensitisation programmes, especially for the top leadership of institutions, and work within existing rules such as pushing for women members on selection committees during recruitment processes.
  • In the future, the DST is likely to consider policy changes such as those brought about in the UK providing financial incentives through grants to institutes.
 
What is the pilot being launched?
  • For the pilot, 25 institutes will be shortlisted to carry out self-assessment on gender equity in their departments.
  • The British Council is assisting the DST and will facilitate collaboration between selected institutions under GATI with Athena SWAN-accredited institutions in the UK.
 
 
Prelim’s Question
Q.1 The Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI) is initiative of which ministry/Institution?
  1. Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)
  2. NITI Ayog
  3. Ministry of Science & Technology
  4. Ministry of Women and Child Development
Correct answer is ( C)
 
Q.2 Athena SWAN, an initiative for enhancing gender equity in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) was launched by which nation ?
(a) USA
(b) Australia
(c) France
(d) United Kingdom.
Correct answer is (D) 
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