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Perspectives, Policy and Programmes: An Empirical Analysis of ‘Women in Science’ in India

Jyoti Sharma, Sunita Dhal


Over the past decade, a number of national policies and programmes have been implemented to promote and increase the participation of women in the fields of science and technology in India. The present study focuses upon the Women Scientist Scheme (WoS), a fellowship scheme of the Government of India, which was designed to promote re-entry of women in the field of science, who had taken a break in their careers. This exploratory study examines the outreach and impact of the fellowship scheme. First, an analysis of secondary data on the Women Scientist Scheme is presented that explores various aspects of the projects currently supported by the scheme, including: the specific research activities, disciplinary variances, status of the projects and institutional affiliation. This is followed by a focused study of a group of women scientists who are part of the Women Scientist Scheme. The study, explores respondents’ social situations and the significance of this fellowship in pursuing a career in science and research. This study engages with the lives of women scientists who have availed Societal Research Fellowship (SoRF) scheme. It provides a gender perspective to the SoRF programme to understand the empowerment process for women in the science stream in India. The results indicate that the fellowship scheme was vital to building self-confidence and identity among women and in enabling them to get back into professional roles in science and research. The study discusses policy implications relating to institutionalization of a parallel career in science, mentoring and orientation for retaining women in science. 


Women fellowship, science-societal interface, women in science, science research, cumulative/parallel career

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