2007年03月02日

Women In Science: The Case Of India

Women In Science: The Case Of India



Neelam Kumar

National Institute of Science,Technology and Development Studies, India


Woman as a category constitute a deprived and discriminated section in Indian society. They are always lower to men. Female literacy is really poor in India, though the gap has become lesser between male and female in terms of literacy. One can thus easily assume the situation of women in science in India. Unequal proportion and position of women has prevailed in Indian science. The enrolment pattern shows that the percent of female is higher in arts (social sciences) compared to science and engineering. Studies on women in science in India are rather sparse but whatever studies have been done shows in a consistent manner that unequal treatment and subtle discrimination prevails in Indian science. This paper using an empirical data highlights some of the issues related to Indian women in science. In this study, using a questionnaire a sample of 490 scientists in assistant professors or higher rank, was collected in eight scientific institutions - four each from universities and national laboratories - situated in four different Indian cities. The results of this study show that apart from the scarcity of women in science under-representations at higher echelons and slower advancement in the academic hierarchy are the two important problems. Women constitute just 18% of the entire sample - out of 490 scientists only 56 were female. A typical pattern of pyramid - most women at the bottom and a few at the top - is observed in India too as at various other parts of the world. Only 3.6 % of the women are professors, whereas 60.7 percent are assistant professors. In contrast 18% male scientists (five times more, proportionately, than females) are in professorial rank and 44.3% are assistant professors. The study shows that female and male scientists did not differ in significant ways in terms of mean number of books authored, chapters contributed in books, articles written and papers presented in the conferences. Evidently, the lower proportions of women at higher ranks are not a simple function of low research productivity as often thought of. Rather gender distinctions are embedded in social structures and organizational processes. The study also reveals that women scientists do not differ with men in terms of subscribing to research-related values, such as professional values. It is also found that only the urban and very selective group of women is able to be in the career of science. While 85.7 % of the women scientists were from urban origin, 54. 1 % of men scientists do come from cities. To conclude, gender distinctions act as organizing principle within Indian scientific institutions and efforts are required to change the social organizational structure of science along with the societal values.

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