Identify the key factors that inhibit the participation and advancement of women in STEM fields in India. What are the measures taken by the government and academia to bridge the gender gap. Also, elucidate the significance of increasing women’s participation in STEM fields


“Science for Women-A Technology & Innovation (SWATI)” Portal is aimed at creating a single online portal representing Indian Women in STEMM. The database will serve in policy making to address the challenges of Gender-gap.


  • Introduction: Despite India’s lead in female STEM graduates, only 14% engage in research, necessitating urgent interventions to bridge gender gap.
  • Main Body: Key factors inhibiting participation include societal stereotypes, dual burden, workplace biases, and lack of visible female leaders. Government measures like KIRAN, Vigyan Jyoti, and GATI aim to bridge the gap. Increasing women’s participation enhances economic growth, addresses skill shortages, fosters inclusive solutions, and boosts global competitiveness.
  • Conclusion: Bridging the gender gap in STEM is vital for India’s economic and developmental priorities, extending beyond social justice.


Despite India’s global lead with 43% female STEM graduates, a mere 14% find roles in research, well below the international average. This highlights the urgent need for targeted interventions to bridge the gender divide in STEM fields.

Key Factors That Inhibit the Participation and Advancement of Women in STEM:

  • Prevailing Stereotypes: view STEM fields as male-dominated, discouraging women from pursuing these careers from an early age.
    • Limited investment in girl education, high cost of STEM education, parental reluctance for long-distance education and challenging exams hinders women’s access to STEM education.
  • Sociocultural Norms: The societal pressure to prioritize family responsibilities over professional advancement significantly impacts women’s career trajectories.
    • The NITI Aayog report reveals many women opt for teaching over research, with a notable drop-out rate during various life events such as marriage, relocation, maternity breaks, and lack of family support.
  • Dual burden: The demanding nature of STEM careers, combined with societal expectations on women regarding domestic responsibilities, and the absence of policies supporting flexible work hours and parental leave, lead many women to opt out of these fields or choose less demanding roles.
    • Just 3 per cent of the women hold the post of CEOs in the STEM industry.
  • Workplace Challenges: Women in STEM fields often face implicit biases, discrimination, and a gender-insensitive work environment, which hinder their leadership opportunities.
    • Unconscious biases and microaggressions make women feel undervalued and invisible.
  • Lack of Visible Female Leaders: in STEM fields results in a lack of networking, mentorship and role models for aspiring women scientists and engineers.
  • Perceived Lack of a Sufficient Talent Pool: of women in STEM leads to difficulties in hiring and retaining women in these fields, perpetuating the gender gap.

Measures Taken by the Government to Bridge the Gender Gap in STEM:

  • KIRAN (Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing): Addresses the challenges of unemployment, career breaks, and relocation faced by women scientists. Provides opportunities for women scientists through fellowships.
  • Vigyan Jyoti: Encourages girl students aged 15 to 18 (especially from rural areas) to pursue STEM through exposure to role models, workshops, and mentorship programs.
  • Atal Tinkering Labs: Promotes innovation and creativity among school students with a focus on encouraging girls to engage in STEM activities.
  • GATI (Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions) Program: Aims at transforming institutions with a gender-sensitive approach to foster inclusivity.
  • INSPIRE (Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research): Offers scholarships, internships, and mentorship to young minds, focusing on female students to pursue scientific research.
  • I-STEM (Indian Science Technology and Engineering facilities Map): An interactive portal aimed at strengthening the R&D ecosystem by providing access to research and employment opportunities, especially for those from underserved communities.
  • “Women in Science” Campaign: highlight the contributions of women scientists and role models in various STEM fields.

Significance of Increasing Women’s Participation in STEM:

  • Economic Growth: Diversity in STEM fields fosters creativity, innovation, and different perspectives, driving technological advancements and economic growth.
  • Addressing Skill Shortages: Utilizing the full potential of the female workforce can address the critical skill shortages in STEM fields, essential for national development.
  • Development of Inclusive Solutions: to global challenges such as climate change, health, and sustainability by taking into consideration the needs of a broader segment of society.
  • Global Competitiveness: Enhancing women’s participation in STEM is crucial for India to maintain its competitive edge in the global economy and technology innovation.
  • Social Equity: Since STEM is the future of high-quality jobs, reducing the gender gap is essential for achieving gender equity and empowerment of women.

Bridging the gender gap in STEM fields is not just a matter of social justice but a critical economic and developmental priority for India, paving the way for a more inclusive, innovative, and prosperous future.

‘+1’ Value Addition:

  • Data from the National Science Foundation (NSF) shows that though 52% of women enrolled for the STEM courses for their graduation, only 29% of them had actually joined the workforce.
  • The Women Scientists Scheme (WOS): provides training and support for women scientists returning to research after a career break.
  • The Indo-US Fellowship for Women in STEMM: Enables Indian women to conduct international research with top institutions in USA.
  • CURIE Scheme: Aims to bolster the R&D infrastructure of women-only universities.

The draft Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020 proposes creating an India-centric Equity & Inclusion (E&I) charter to address discrimination and enhance equality. Additionally, it aims to ensure a minimum of 30% female representation in decision-making bodies.

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