India’s push for gender equity in science
Why in the news?
- The Department of Science and Technology (DST) is coming with a programme called Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI) in the line of the UK’s ATHENA SWAS to improve the women participation in science.
- An initial pilot has been initiated by DST to call the interested universities, Research institutions and Institutions of National Importance.
What is Athena SWAS?
- The Athena Swan Charter is a framework which is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality within higher education (HE) and research.
- Established in 2005 in the UK to encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment, the Charter is now being used across the globe to address gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women.
- There are more than 170 institutions enrolled under this programme in the UK and Ireland.
- The programme has been adopted by countries like Australia, Canada, US etc under different names.
- GATI aims to nudge institutions of higher education and research towards supporting diversity, inclusion and the full spectrum of talent for their own success and progression.
- In particular, it aspires to create an enabling environment for equal participation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine and Mathematics (STEMM) disciplines at all levels, addressing deep-rooted problems.
- GATI pilots a sustainable self-assessment and accreditation model. At the core of the model is the GATI Charter based on ten key principles. These principles explicitly acknowledge gender inequality and articulate a commitment towards overcoming systemic and cultural barriers to women’s academic and professional advancement at all levels.
The Assessment and Accreditation Process
- The pilot institutions would be expected to endorse the GATI Charter on gender equity. They would thereby commit to adopting its principles within their policies, practices, action plans and institutional culture.
- Further, they would be required to create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) action plans for systemic and cultural transformation. A metric-based self-assessment application followed by peer review would lead to institutional recognition and GATI Award.
- The overarching programme is being undertaken in partnership with the British Council. The Council will facilitate collaboration between selected institutions under GATI with Athena SWAN accredited universities and research institutions in the UK.
What is the need for India to adopt it?
- India is ranked 108 out of 149 countries in the 2018 Global Gender Gap report.
- According to DST figures, in 2015-16, the share of women involved in scientific research and development was 14.71% after it had actually increased from 13% in 2000-2001 to in 2014-15.
- The DST has also found that women are either not promoted, or very often drop out mid-career to attend to their families.
- Hence this type of Programme will be essential to bring gender equity in the scientific realm.
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