Only 15pc R&D workforce are women: President Kovind

Only 15pc R&D workforce are women: President Ram Nath Kovind

President Ram Nath Kovind. (PTI Photo)

President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday rued the lesser number of women in the area of science and technology and said they comprise only 15 per cent of the workforce in research and development.

He also launched three new initiatives for gender advancement and equality in the academic, and research and development institutions of the country.

Kovind recalled how women scientists played a critical role in the Indian Space Research Organisation's Mars orbiter mission Mangalyaan and Moon Mission Chandrayaan 2.

The president said during his visit to Sriharikota for Chandrayaan-2's launch last year, he came across a woman scientist so dedicated to the project that she left her six- month-old son with her parents and joined the mission.

"Despite the presence of such highly motivated women scientists, India's R&D workforce has less than 15 per cent women, compared to the global average of 30 per cent, according to a National Task Force report," Kovind said while addressing a gathering of scientists on the occasion of National Science Day.

"Numbers are no different in science and technology teaching institutions. Only a small percentage of women who study science go on to make a successful career and contribute to this field," he said.

Kovind said in order to encourage women to take to higher studies in science, he had substantially enhanced the representation of women in central universities.

National Science Day marks the discovery of the 'Raman Effect' -- the phenomenon of the scattering of light -- by physicist C V Raman on this day in 1928.

The president said it was essential to empower women for the development of any country.

The Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI), an online portal for S&T resources for women and 'Vigyan Jyoti' were among the initiatives launched by the president for increasing the percentage of women in the area of science and technology.

GATI will assess the progress made by participating institutions in gender advancement based on well-defined parameters, while the online portal will provide information on government schemes, scholarships, fellowships, career counselling and details of subject area experts from various disciplines.

'Vigyan Jyoti' is aimed at creating a level playing field for the meritorious girls in high schools to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics in higher education.

Kovind said it is through science and technology that challenges of the environment, healthcare, energy for equitable economic growth, food and water security, and communication can be effectively addressed.

Later in the day, addressing the first convocation ceremony of the Central University of Jharkhand in Ranchi, the president said achievements of women are all the more appreciable as they face more challenges and obstacles.

Kovind also advised the university's students to gain knowledge about the tribal population, visit nearby villages and make people aware of government schemes on cleanliness, literacy and child vaccination.

Referring to how the youth had joined Mahatma Gandhi in the freedom movement and social reforms, the president said he was of the firm belief that the young generation of the 21st first century would take the nation to new heights of success.

"The main objective of education is to become a good human being, and, in turn, make one good doctor, a good teacher and good social leader...," Kovind said. 

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