[Answered] Participation of women in scientific and technological fields is rising. Discuss the factors behind the increasing participation of women. Also suggest, what more can be done.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write some factors behind the increasing participation of women in scientific and technological fields. Also, write how it can be improved further.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

The under-representation and disparity of women in scientific and technological fields are results of deep-rooted social stigma, discrimination and social norms. The data released by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has confirmed a rise in the participation of women in scientific and technological fields over the last two decades. The percentage of women researchers has increased from 13.9 in 2015 to 18.7 in 2018.

Factors behind the increasing participation of women:

  • Possible with individual enterprise as well as the thrust of successive governments on gender diversity through grants and rewiring of infrastructure for greater inclusivity.
  • The scheme called Vigyan Jyoti, launched by the Department of Science & Technology created a level-playing field for the meritorious girls in high school to pursue STEM in their higher education. It also offers exposure to rural girl students to chart their course from school to a job of their choice in the field of science.
  • The innovative pilot project, Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI) was announced to develop a comprehensive charter and a framework for assessing gender equality in STEM.
  • GATI is working in close cooperation with Knowledge Involvement Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN). KIRAN offers opportunities to women scientists in scaling up the academic and administrative ladder. It also provides job opportunities to unemployed women scientists and technologists.

What more can be done?

  • Remove gender biases in learning materials and linking it to real world situations using interactive experiences, project-based learning, etc.
  • Parents and teachers need to be allies. Early support for a girl’s natural interest in science should be provided at home and at schools.
  • Provide digital literacy trainings and financial incentives such as scholarships to further support girls’ retention and completion of secondary school.
  • At the tertiary level and beyond, mentorship, skills development, and networking opportunities promote persistence in science fields among undergraduates.
  • Private sector can play an important role by providing financial support (scholarships, networks, grants, etc.) and training focused on digital and other skills, and offering internship opportunities.
  • Improve employment prospects and retention policies such as flexible work, paid family leave, and childcare support, which are particularly crucial after the pandemic.

Changing mindsets and creating a more supportive ecosystem across homes, schools, universities, and workplaces supported by institutional change and targeted policies is a complex process. A combination of short- and long-term measures is needed.

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