Dr. Parinda Vasa works in the Institute of Physics at the University of Oldenburg in the field of ultra-fast nanotechnology. From 2006 to 2008, she was a Georg Forster Research Fellow at Ilmenau University of Technology.
Cover Story: Careers with Obstacles - Women in Academia
It’s a Long Road to Gender Equality
Parinda Vasa, Physicist, India
Women are very much underrepresented in science and technology in India at all academic levels with representation being marginal or none at higher levels. The overall percentage is less than twenty percent at graduate student level and reduces to less than five percent at faculty level – many physics departments having no woman faculty member at all. Universities and institutes as well as the government are trying to bridge the gap but it’s a slow process as this has to be done at the lower level first. There are initiatives which promote parents to provide higher education for a girl child. Also there are scholarships and funding reserved only for women applicants.
In India as well as Germany institutes encourage women applicants, but the main difference is in the social structure. Here, in Germany, women are much more socially and economically independent compared to India. Most of the time it’s the social constraint that is hindering Indian women from pursuing higher education or careers. This is also the reason why achieving gender balance in workplaces is a much slower process.
I am a member of Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future forum, a network for female academics. It is a good platform for sharing experiences as well as opinions, but in a working group network, gender should not be an issue. Having “men only” and “women only” work-related networks only increases the differences rather than bridging the gap.
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