One of the focuses of the new Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, currently being drafted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) is to increase the participation of women in science.
- The DST is incorporating a system of grading institutes depending on the enrolment of women and the advancement of the careers of women faculty and scientists.
- It will be called GATI (Gender Advancement through Transforming Institutions).
- 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.
- The DST will soon launch a pilot, which the British Council has helped it develop.
Why need such initiative?
- 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.
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.
- Signatories commit to addressing various issues such as –
- 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.
- To get as many institutions as possible to sign up, the DST will need to manoeuvre around government red tape as most universities, barring the IITs and NITs, are run and funded by the government as well.
- This means that these institutions don’t have direct control over institutional policies, recruitment and promotions.
- The DST has tied up with the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), under the UGC, aiming to push gender equity through them.