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India Needs More Women Scientists, Says Nirupama Rao

By SiliconIndia   |   Tuesday, January 31, 2012
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Calling for out-of-the-box thinking to harness the potential of science, Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Nirupama Rao called for increased participation and retention of women scientists for overall development of the nation.

Inaugurating the first Women Science Congress on the sidelines of the ongoing 99th Indian Science Congress (ISC) here, Rao called for redoubling efforts to make science more inclusive.

"The number of Indian women scientists is too few and we need to ask about the relative absence of women in science and are we doing enough to encourage the participation of women in science in India?" she said.

The former foreign secretary called for policy solutions to remove gender-based disparity in science and other sectors.

"We have to encourage participation and retention of Indian women scientists in science and technology, which is important for national development and the success of other programmes," she said.

The Jan 3-7 event on the theme 'Science and Technology for Inclusive Innovation - Role of Women' is focused on women in science.

In line with the theme, the five-day ISC is headed by Geetha Bali, vice chancellor of the Karnataka State Women's University, Bijapur.

She is the fourth woman in the history of the ISC to head the Congress. The last time was in 1999 when the meet was held in Chennai with distinguished biologist Manju Sharma presiding over it.

Addressing the Women Science Congress, D. Purandeswari, minister of state for Human Resource Development (HRD), said the development of women cannot be complete without their equal participation in science.

Earlier, inaugurating the ISC, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh underlined the need for transparency in selection procedures and also the importance of gender audits.

"We should also take note of the results of a study published last year that showed that 60 percent of nearly 2,000 Indian women PhDs in science who were surveyed were unemployed. The main reason cited was lack of job opportunities. Only a very small number cited family reasons. This underlines the need for transparency in selection procedures at institutions and also the importance of gender audits," he said.

More than 15,000 delegates, including 500 foreign scientists and Nobel laureates, are participating in the five-day event.

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