Here’s a post from Garima Gupta at the DBT, with some international perspectives at the end.
International Women’s Day, March 8, 2013, was celebrated by the Department of Biotechnology at the auditorium of the ‘Scope Complex’ close to the DBT headquarters in New Delhi. The programme started by welcoming three women advisers (among the senior most officers at the DBT): Drs. Bindu Dey, Suman Govil and Renu Swaroop. These officers told the audience about the challenges facing women in every aspect of their interactions in our societies. Referring to recent articles on women in science the Secretary DBT’s talk pointed out that practical issues such as maternity leave and child care are necessary, addressable with the will to do so and now required by law. But, far more needs to be done, which is more complex to do. More avenues and better mechanisms need to be created for facilitating women to take up careers of their choice. The discussions pointed out that while no one cribs about mediocre men in senior positions, the issue of having reservations for women in top positions makes people squirm about the possibility of mediocre women occupying leadership positions!
Eminent achievers, both women and men (Dr. T. S. Rao from the DBT and Dr. Vir Chauhan from the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology) were invited for a panel discussion “Women in Leadership: whether there is a Glass Ceiling”. DBT has been path-breaking in government departments to have several women advisors and a woman Secretary Dr Manju Sharma. In the latest recruitment of officers about 50% are women scientists, who have been selected after an intense nationa competetion. Amongst the invited panelists was Dr. Malati Laksmi Kumaran whose impassioned talk held back nothing and stirred the audience. Ms. Deepanwita Chattopadhyay from the IKP knowledge park Hyderabad told the audience about working in a corporate banking environment, a citadel of male domination. She pointed out that ICICI, where she is from has a large number of women in senior positions, because, as their chairman said, they “simply chose the best available”. Here is an interview with Ms. Chattopadhyay.
The occasion was about time for DBT to formally confer its women scientists awards for 2010- 2012 (The award ceremony was much delayed, apologies to all and the ceremony for the other delayed Bioscience Award will be held soon). Congratulations to all the winners! Next time we’ll be on time.
From the international reports on women’s day, here’s Fiona Watt in the new open access journal eLife on her experience as a woman scientist and what we could do about hiring senior women scientists. Most of you would have read the series of articles in the March 7 issue of Nature on the subject. See, particularly the editorial, which advocates reservations in top positions for women in science and the contrary view of Isabelle Vernos . Your comments on all this and beyond are most welcome.