Women Make Up 43% of STEMM Enrolment in Higher Education: Union S&T Min Jitendra Singh
Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh, in a recent statement to the Lok Sabha, highlighted the substantial role women are playing in leading groundbreaking science projects such as the Aditya L1 mission and Chandrayaan-3. Responding to a Starred Question, Dr Jitendra Singh emphasized the increasing leadership roles women scientists are assuming in cutting-edge space research programs.
Women scientists are prominently positioned in key roles, including Project Director, for advanced Space Research programs like Chandrayaan-3 and the Aditya-L1 solar mission, according to Dr Jitendra Singh.
Furthermore, Dr Jitendra Singh provided encouraging statistics, stating that women now constitute 43% of enrolment in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM) streams at the Higher Education level. He expressed optimism that this trend will lead to higher women representation in Science and Technology (S&T) Institutions, Industry, and Startups in the coming years.
Reassuring the Lok Sabha, Dr Jitendra Singh clarified that there is no gender bias in promotions, and the overall representation of women in S&T jobs is expected to improve. While acknowledging that the current percentage of women scientists stands at 18.6%, he highlighted the significant contribution of women in Research and Development (R&D) projects, reaching up to 25%.
Dr Jitendra Singh credited the success of the Women in Science and Engineering-KIRAN (WISE-KIRAN) scheme, initiated during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure and expanded by PM Modi in 2014. The scheme aims to provide opportunities to women scientists and technologists, promoting their active involvement in S&T through various programs.
The Minister disclosed that the budget for the WISE-KIRAN scheme has seen a substantial increase, jumping from Rs. 44 crore in 2014 to nearly Rs. 135 crore in the current fiscal year. The WISE-KIRAN scheme has benefitted 2,153 women scientists in the last five years.
Under the WISE-KIRAN scheme, new programs have been introduced in 2023-24, such as ‘WISE Fellowship for Ph.D. (WISE-PhD),’ ‘WISE Post-Doctoral Fellowship (WISE-PDF),’ ‘WISE-SCOPE,’ ‘WIDUSHI Programme,’ and ‘WISE Internship in Intellectual Property Rights (WISE-IPR).’ These initiatives aim to address societal challenges, support senior women scientists, and provide training in Intellectual Property Rights, contributing to gender parity in STEM fields.
Dr Jitendra Singh concluded by stating that the government remains committed to enhancing the role of women in every sector, and Prime Minister Modi has consistently emphasized this commitment.