Smriti Irani, while inaugurating the Women Science Congress, said that science is gender-neutral. She mentioned that about 2.8 lakh scientists, engineers employed in research and development institutions across the country, only about 39,000 are women which makes the female scientific community the largest minority in the country.
The data tells us that 81 percent of the females in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) field, there is a gender bias in performance evaluation. She said that one needs to find out, how many women in our country file for patents, how many women in our community and in our educational institutions are taught how to commercialise their innovations and inventions.
She said that gender parity is not the responsibility of women alone; it is for the men of the society to ensure that also. It is incumbent upon us to build dream, to desire, to question, to explore, to love science for the sake of science amongst girls too.
She said that one of the biggest challenges in the scientific community in terms of education is the challenge of language. She stressed that English is still the lingua franca of science and pointed a fact from census 2011 that 96.7 percent of our country’s population resorts to the 22 scheduled languages as their first language or as their mother tongue. Translation of some of the best science journals, new scientific studies is not only for university students but also a must for schools so that love for science can be embedded at a very earlier stage.
“How science can be aided for gender parity through technology – if we can do that, that will be a big step from today’s opening ceremony” -Smriti Irani.
Women’s Science Congress has been organised at the Indian Science Congress with the focal theme “Future India: Science and Technology” to showcase the contribution of women in Science, Technology and the Society.
It is disheartening to note that only 65% of Indian women receive basic education. But now, the world economic forum on the global gender gap has reported that India successfully closed its tertiary education gender gap for the first time.
Qualified women are coming out of the education system and it is for the industries to hire retain and promote them. It has become inevitable that the women are integrated into the talent pool. Women are now actively participating in policy making and political leadership. Carefully designed policies with dedicated leadership shall pave way to innovations and discoveries benefiting society.
During the two-day Women Science Congress, renowned women scientists and women leaders/ decision makers from Government, academia and industry would deliver lectures and participate in panel discussions.