Saturday, January 07, 2006

Women in Science: India

Through Arun's comment on comments thread following this post by Sean Carroll, I found a recent Frontline article that says "there is an overwhelming body of evidence to suggest that a strong gender bias pervades institutions of science in India." It has some (only some) statistics, and quite a few quotes from Indian scientists. Here is one from Prof. Rohini Godbole, a colleague in our Institute's Centre for High Energy Physics:

I don't think there is a societal perception in India of women being incapable of intellectual attainment in science. Many of these university students do brilliantly and are gold medallists. Many of them also enter Ph.D programmes, but their numbers drop in faculty positions, and drop even more in higher faculty positions, in selection committees, and so on. In the IISc, for example, only 6 per cent of full professors are women.

Here's another quote from Prof. C.N.R. Rao, Chairman of the Prime Minister's Scientific Advisory Council:

Women have for various reasons been under-represented in science, in India and all over the world. [...] They have the responsibilities of family and children and don't get facilities such as creches on campus, or the advantages of flexible working schedules to be able to return to work after breaks. In addition to adverse working conditions, there is the direct or indirect gender bias against women, the notion that `everything else being equal I would rather employ a man'. I believe we have to create better working conditions for women as a first step to fight this bias.


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