Monday, November 28, 2005

Is science woman friendly?
Even after the 100 years of Einstein’s formulation of ‘theory of relativity’, the under representation of women in this field is relatively higher. Though there are frequent spark offs regarding this issue, the conclusion remains the same: “women are not competitive enough to swim across the field of science”.
These are the same women who outsmarted the so-called “researchers and techies” back at their school. These are the same women who topped the board examination in both arts and science. What happens to them after that? Though the percentage of drop-out among girls after XII standard is high, that doesn’t answers the whole question of under representation of women in this field.
In fact, in 2000, when a well-known all-women's college in the United States, Smith College, announced that it was offering a degree in engineering, an electronics magazine ran an article with the title, "Is Female Engineer an Oxymoron?" The author claimed that in his 32 years as an engineer in power electronics, he had never worked with a woman engineer. He concluded that women did not have a love or aptitude for "real" technical work.
In India, the department of Science and Technology has initiated special fellowships to facilitate women to get back to science after a break in career. L'Oreal has started in Mumbai in 2003, a special fellowship for girls to pursue science, based on merit and need. But still, the number of applications is very low is what L’Oreal complains.
The Union government and science academies said they will scout for women scientists who will act as role models like Marie Curie or Rosalind Franklin to younger women keen to pursue careers in science. The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics said it will start a work group for women to create an ‘interest’ among them in science. The blame is again on women. World says that women have a loathing for science. But what do the women say?
Science is being looked as a field of research and studies. But research and projects are not all individuality and privacy. Group work and working area is what bothers women a lot. Women say, in reality, the workplace for them is quite different. The woman scientist leading government-funded research institute was quoted as saying: "This is one Institute where cheap `gendered' jokes are in order at every meeting organised officially. There is the added disadvantage of some male colleagues who openly insult or abuse the women scientists. The few who speak up against them (like me, for instance) have to face difficult work conditions — a work place that is an impending threat all the time, regular (and now quite predictable) disruption at work, and of course direct punishment by manipulating our performance report and granting low grades or denying assessment opportunities."
Science which is known to be a profession of innovation and creativity leaves less space for women’s originality and ingenuity. Unlike other profession, where women can shift their places, researches are meant to be done in one research organisation which will be mostly government-run. Women are left with no other choice but to work with them. A physics professor who has recently admitted her daughter in a professional course said, “Women have to face too many difficulties to complete Ph.D. if their guide is a male, then it is almost impossible. I feel software profession is very secure for girls.” This is a common conception even among the researchers. They don’t want their successors to face the difficulties they have faced. No wonder the number of female students applying for IISc has been drastically reduced from 20,000 to 12,000. And experts predict further declination in future. Sooner or later, the word ‘scientist’ will be ascribed to the dominant sex.


theworldofwords said...

u r a grt writer believe me!!! it was fun reading ur articles

claytonia vices said...

That's quite thought provoking. I feel a lot of it has got to do with attitudes and beliefs in our society... most people have this stereotype that women can fit only into certain kinds of roles and of course, insensitivity of men towards women in organisations is only making it worse.

Suprotip said...

Pardon the invasion here, I feel an interesting read would be A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf.

Could be of help.

Nice blog. However, I feel YOU should be writing, not ACJ.