It is often perceived that Science is not a girl’s cup of tea. Girls outshine boys, in science streams in the Class X and Class XII examinations, colleges etc. But what happens to them after that? The number of women receiving degrees in the sciences and engineering translates to an even smaller percentage of women at upper echelons of science administration and management. Science has been considered as a hitherto male-dominated field till a few years ago, but now it is increasingly becoming apparent that women scientists are finally making their mark in this field.
The Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) has made sincere efforts is to eradicate the source of apprehension that science field is not fit for women. The institution possesses a ‘Women scientist division’ to promote participation of Women in Science, Engineering, Medicine and allied disciplines in the State of Kerala. The Division is committed to implement programmes and projects to promote women in science and technology in the State of Kerala. An assortment of programmes and funds are set up by Kerala State Council for Science and Technology and Environment for women.
Kerala State Council for Science and Technology and Environment has set up ‘Back to lab programme’ where fund is constituted for the purpose of giving assistance in the form of fellowship-cum- project grant to qualified women researchers in Kerala, for pursuing research in frontier areas of S&T. Grants will be paid for specific projects to cover expenditure on acquisition of minor equipment, laboratory supplies, cost of books and periodicals, publication of research papers, cost on internal travels including participation in scientific conferences/symposia or for any other specific purpose. The grant also covers the ‘Post Doctoral/Research Fellowship’ to the selected eligible woman scientist. A fellowship solely for women is a huge impetus and it helps to enhance the confidence of women scientists who are cynical about re-entering the field after a long break.
The institute is also dealing with a project on database of women in science in Kerala. The objective of the project is to analyze the status of women in the state and to address the concerns of underrepresentation of women in higher levels of science professions and academics. Containing the contributions of women achievers in science and technology, the database aims to inspire young girls to develop a passion for science, to take up science as a challenging profession and transform Kerala into an innovative, knowledge-based society. WSD is also initiating a website for online registration of women scientists in Kerala.
Kerala State Council for Science, Technology & Environment (KSCSTE) is launching a new Programme entitled “STARS” -“Students with talent and aptitude for research in Science”. ‘STARS’ is an innovative programme with foresight for attracting student talents with an aptitude for research and innovation, to a career in Basic & Applied sciences. The Programme will be implemented in the following 2 schemes a) Student Programme For Excellence In Experimental Design- (SPEED) where aspiring science students have the chance to attend a 5- day orientation programme in selected R&D centres in the State of Kerala. This programme will enable them to familiarise with the kind of research activities going on in standard research laboratories in the State and thus develop a passion for science research. B) The ‘KSCSTE Pratibha Scholarship scheme’ offers scholarship for the toppers in science subjects in the higher Secondary Examination to pursue undergraduate course in Basic /Applied Science subjects.
Vocational Skill Oriented Reinstate Training (VSORT) by KSCSTE is a scheme entitled for socially isolated and under privileged women/ girls to acquire S&T based skills in a career oriented background. VSORT programme is an open door opportunity for women confined under various circumstances, to get trained in selected S&T based skills that help them to equip themselves to be financially independent, either by taking up paid jobs or through self employment. The programme targets women prisoners within state of Kerala. The goal of this programme is to prepare prisoners to be self-reliant when they are released on completion of their term, through S& T Skills. The training prepares them to find jobs applying advanced technology upon their release from prison. This would greatly reduce their recidivism rate.
Women’s issues matter to women in science and technology fields, and in society at large.Improving women’s prospects in science will benefit both the sciences and the cause of women in general, as it will boost up the women seeking equality in other endeavors. By developing acumen for women in science and implementing programmes and projects to promote women in science and technology and making it possible for women to advance in the science arena, Kerala State Council for Science, Technology & Environment (KSCSTE) has truely become an exemplary model for other institutions.