There’s no better time to have been a woman scientist in this country, what with the incentives being given now such as age relaxation, special schemes and scholarships.
Rashmi Dravid, senior lecturer, computing, school of science and technology, University of Northampton, says "India is going through very exciting times. With most multinationals shifting their research centres to India, a lot of money is being pumped in. India is going through a transition where very soon it will be one of the foremost countries as far as research is concerned."
Even at home, various initiatives by the government are ensuring ample participation by women. Dr Gitanjali Yadav, a scientist with the National Institute of Immunology, says, “Two kinds of scholarships are available for women scientists. One is specially designed for them and the others offer some relaxations. To clinch these, a substantial part of your research study should be India-focused, should benefit the country and its people in some way."
On the challenges, Yadav says, "While there might be many schemes, there is not enough awareness around these. The onus doesn’t lie solely with the government but it’s also for us as individuals to be aware of our rights and privileges. However, a good thing is that the ministry of science and technology is making efforts to ensure that their schemes attract the best of minds. They are sending out personal e-mails to scientists asking them to identify women in their circles who might have dropped out on the pretext of nurturing their family and their child and want to get back to academics."
Yadav believes "encouragement for women scientists comes with age," that most of the relaxations are offered to women at a later stage in their lives. For those who put their careers on the backburner after marriage and later find it difficult to enter the mainstream, the Department of Science and Technology’s (DST) Women Scientists Scheme (WOS) is very attractive. WOS provides opportunities to women scientists and technologists between the age group of 30-50 years to return to mainstream science and work as bench-level scientists. Mindsets, too, need to change. Yadav says, "In north India, the social structure is very restrictive. As a woman reaches 25 years of age, she is pressurised into marrying. Once you are married how long can you stall things? I think, anyone, be it a woman or a man, should be given time and space to follow their dreams and make it large." So, jump on the bandwagon and don’t miss out on the beautiful scientific future that awaits you!
Scholarships you can apply for
* Women Scientists Scholarship, Department of Science and Technology (DST) www.dst.gov.in/scientific-programme/women-scientists.htm
* National Award for Senior Woman Bioscientist, DST
* National Award for Young Woman Bioscientist, DST
* CSIR Young Scientists Award www.csirhrdg.res.in/ysa1.htm
* INSA Medal for Young Scientists
* L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards www.loreal.com/_en/_ww/for-women-in-science.aspx