Women Scientists in India


    In News

    • Recently, Dr N Kalaiselvi was appointed as the first woman director general of India’s largest research and development organisation Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). 

    Data on Women in R&D 


    • Increasing Trend
      • The participation of women in science research has been generally increasing over the past two decades in the country.
      • 28% of participants in extramural R&D projects in 2018-19 were women, up from 13% in 2000-01 due to various initiatives taken by successive governments.
    • Four fold growth
      • The number of women principal investigators in R&D had risen more than four times from 232 in 2000-01 to 941 in 2016-17.
      • The percentage of women among researchers went from 13.9% in 2015 to 18.7% in 2018.
    • Sector wise assessment
      • There were fewer women researchers in engineering and technology (14.5%) compared with the natural sciences and agriculture (22.5% each), and health sciences (24.5%).
      • The percentage of women researchers in the social sciences and humanities is, however, much higher at 36.4%.
      • Women’s participation is the highest in biotechnology (40%) and medicine (35%). 
    • Participation in Bachelor’s and Master’s levels 
      • Results of the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2019 showed a 53% and 55% participation of women in science education at the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels respectively, numbers that are comparable with many developed countries. 
      • But at doctoral level, women graduates (44%) lagged behind men (56%).


    • Familial issues
      • Women tend to drop out when they get married or have children.
      • These reasons are attributed to dropout from higher studies, career break, overage for scientific jobs and prolonged absence from place of work or even resignation from the job. 
    • Drop at the post-doctoral level 
      • We have observed that participation (of women) is healthy till the postgraduate level. But there is a drop at the post-doctoral level, where most of the research takes place.
    • Participation in IIT’s
      • The rate of women’s participation is particularly low across the five IITs in Delhi, Mumbai, Kanpur, Chennai, and Roorkee ranging from 9% to 14%.

    Initiatives taken by the Government and Other organisations

    • Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI) project
      • It is based on the UK’s Athena Swan Charter.
      • In the first phase of GATI, 30 educational and research institutes have been selected by DST, with a focus on women’s participation in leadership roles, faculty, and the numbers of women students and researchers. 
    • SERB-POWER (Promoting Opportunities for Women in Exploratory Research)
      • SERB – POWER provides structured support in research to ensure equal access and weighted opportunities for Indian women scientists engaged in R&D activities. 
      • The R&D support to women scientists is provided through two components, namely: SERB POWER Fellowships & SERB POWER Research Grants.
    • Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN)” Scheme of DST
      • It had been instituted to encourage women scientists through various programmes in the field of Science and Technology (S&T).
    • Consolidation of University Research through Innovation and Excellence in Women Universities (CURIE) Programme
      • Only women Universities are being supported for development of research infrastructure and creation of state-of-the-art research laboratories to enhance women’s participation in the S & T domain.
    • Indo-US Fellowship for Women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & Medicine)
      • It encourages Indian women scientists and technologists to undertake international collaborative research in premier institutions in the USA for a duration of 3-6 months.
    • Vigyan Jyoti Scheme
      • It encourages girl students of Class 9 to 12 to pursue education and career in S&T particularly in the areas where women are underrepresented.
    • Women Excellence Award
      • It recognizes women Academy Awardees to expand their research horizon to higher levels.
    • Biotechnology Career Advancement and Re-orientation Programme (BioCARe)
      • To encourage women scientists in Biotechnology research.
    • National Award for woman scientist
      • To recognize the contribution of women scientists in the field of Earth System Sciences, Ministry of Earth Sciences has initiated a special award called “National Award for woman scientist” and is being conferred to one-woman scientist each year on the Foundation day.
    • Women Entrepreneur’s Quest (WEQ) Programme
      • It was initiated by DST in partnership with Anita Borg Institute, USA for scouting and supporting Women Entrepreneurs in Technology.
    • Women Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Foundation (WEE)
      • It is India’s first of its kind initiative by IIT Delhi supported and sponsored by DST to strengthen women eco – system.
    • Women Start-up Program (WSP) of DST
      • In partnership with Goldman Sachs aims to support ambitious and innovative women entrepreneurs by enabling them to transform their idea into a business venture.

    Way forward

    • Government programmes and natural progression 
      • The increase in women’s participation, especially in research, is due to a combination of government programmes and natural progression.
      • It aims to raise women’s participation in S&T to 30% by 2030.
    • Creche facilities 
      • In numerous CSIR labs, women’s participation has increased because there are creche facilities now in the residential colonies where the women scientists live. 
    • Attitudes towards girls 
      • Parental attitudes towards girls pursuing science has also seen a shift, and girls are now encouraged more.
    • Increasing use of AI in the sciences
      • We anticipate that in the next 5-6 years, there will be an exponential growth in women’s participation in S&T with women using more sophisticated tools that allow remote working, such as something simple like access to online libraries.
    • Age relaxation
      • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) provides an upper age relaxation of five years to women researchers to pursue doctoral and postdoctoral research for award of Fellowships. 

    Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

    • It is known for its cutting edge R&D knowledge base in diverse S&T areas, 
    • It is a contemporary R&D organisation. 
    • It has a dynamic network of 37 national laboratories, 39 outreach centres, 3 Innovation Complexes, and five units with a pan-India presence. 
    • Coverage 
      • It covers a wide spectrum of science and technology – from oceanography, geophysics, chemicals, drugs, genomics, biotechnology and nanotechnology to mining, aeronautics, instrumentation, environmental engineering and information technology. 
      • It provides significant technological intervention in many areas concerning societal efforts, which include environment, health, drinking water, food, housing, energy, farm and non-farm sectors. 

    CSIR – AROMA Mission

    • To develop and disseminate the aroma-related science and technology to reach the end users / clients of CSIR: Farmers, industry and society.
    • To bring additional area under captive cultivation of aromatic cash crops, particularly targeting rain-fed and degraded land across the country.
    • To provide technical and infra-structural support for distillation and value additions to farmers and growers all over the country. 
    • To achieve value-addition to essential oils and aroma ingredients for their integration into global trade and economy.

    Source: IE