Need of the hour is to bridge gender-divide in science and technology jobs: VP

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Chennai, Jan 5 (PTI): Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday expressed concern over under-representation of women in science and technology jobs and urged that steps be taken to rectify the situation.

While about 40 per cent of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates comprise women in the country, the highest in the world, women's share in science and technology jobs was a mere '14 per cent', Naidu said at a function.

'A major issue of concern in STEM-related employment is the under-representation of women.Diversity in STEM was absolutely necessary and the need of the hour is to bridge the gender-divide in employment,' he said after virtually inaugurating a new residential wing of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences here.

'We must look at the cause for this dismal under- representation of women in science and technology jobs and take steps to rectify the situation expeditiously,' he said.

On strengthening science and technology education, he said, one has to look beyond government funding and the private sector was having an equal opportunity and responsibility to fund and partner with institutions.

The number of girl students in IITs, which was eight per cent in 2016, has increased to 20 per cent, Naidu said and added that the Women Scientists Programme offered by the Department of Science and Technology was a laudable initiative that encourages women to take up careers in science and mathematics.

'We must celebrate our women scientists and mathematicians and showcase them as role models to our young girls,'he said.

India must look beyond its traditional science and engineering curriculum and equip young graduates with new skill-sets.Else they would become outdated and the degree will remain only on paper, he cautioned.

Referring to the distance education courses in data science offered by IITs, he said, most of these courses were still in English language.

'We need to offer them in regional languages so that more students get benefitted.' Hailing India's renowned mathematician Ramanujan, he said, 'with almost no formal training, he made important contributions to mathematical analysis and number theory.Without employment and living in ordinary conditions, he continued his work undeterred.' 'Ramanujan's inspirational story must motivate us to discover many more Ramanujans in our children.Always remember, there is no dearth of talent.There is a dearth in finding and nurturing this talent', he said.PTI VIJ BN WELCOME BN WELCOME