GENDER: Women in Science Face Discrimination in India – Part 1

Published on IPS, by K.S.Harikrishnan, November 18, 2009.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, Nov 18 (IPS) – Just 10 of the 443 Indian scientists who received the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar (SSB) award in the last 50 years were women.

An IPS investigation reveals that women scientists are sidelined by male-centric selection committees for awards and for appointments to research and development (R&D) positions in government funded organisations.

A gender-wise breakup of data related to three important national awards – SSB, Young Scientist and National Bio Science award – shows a consistent marginalisation of female scientists and technologists.

There were very few females among the recipients of the Young Scientist awards since it was instituted in 1987. Of the total 133 people who won the award up to 2009, only 17 were females.  

Equally the National Bio Science awards have been prejudicial to women. Between 1999-2008, 70 scientists received the award which carries a cash prize of 100,000 rupees (2,200 dollars) and a research grant of 300,000 rupees (6,400 dollars) per year for a maximum of three years. Only 10 women scientists were chosen … //

… IPS’s investigation also found out that a few academies have nominated more women scientists to its list of fellows due to growing dissatisfaction among women scientists.

The prominent Indian Academy of Sciences, which was founded in 1934 by Nobel Laureate Prof. C.V. Raman, presently has over 800 fellows. Between 1994-2004, the number of males selected as fellows in all disciplines was 236 while the number of females was 17. The academy enlisted more women fellows, and their numbers increased to 51 in 2007.

Women’s representation in government constituted research advisory bodies also worries women scientists; data shows a range between 0-21 percent.

According to Dr. Bal, many unstated considerations were factors in the selection/nomination of fellows/members in research institutions/committees. “When personal connections matter in achieving targets, women scientists can easily lose out, since personal interactions of women scientists with male colleagues would be deeply constrained by standard patriarchal cultural barriers of so-called morality.”

*This is the first of a two-part series that looks at discrimination against women scientists. END/2009. (full text).

Comments are closed.