This week, the world celebrated the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Feb. 11, which aims to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls. As part of this effort, Gender STI has launched its own #WomenInScience campaign. We talked to researchers and experts, both men and women, about why they got involved in science, what they think about current statistics on women researchers and what they think needs to be done to encourage more women and girls to pursue scientific careers.
Sandhya Venkatesh, a project manager at the Euro India Research Centre, believes there is much more scope for women to participate in science and research and that it has to be encouraged in all countries equally. Encouraging women and girls to pursue science starts by giving visibility to brilliant women scientists and turning them into role models.
What is your job position and why did you decide to work in science, technology and innovation? What does your job entail?
I work as a project manager at the Euro India Research Centre. While I am an economist by training, I have spent my career in the field of science and technology. I have worked on international projects to promote the uptake of collaborative research between India and other countries, especially Europe. I actively participate in communication, training and dissemination activities with best-in-class Indian and European science and researchers.
According to the United Nations, currently less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women. What do you think about that?
There is much more scope for women to participate in science and research and it has to be encouraged and supported in all countries equally. Girls and women can also be empowered through the creation of equal opportunities in all the areas.
What would you tell young girls and women who are interested in pursuing a career in science?
Boost young girls and women to pursue careers in science. There are ample opportunities for women in science and technology areas. Motivate them with real-time examples and make them aware of the possibility of careers in scientific research and education.
What do you think needs to be done to encourage more girls and women to pursue scientific careers?
Basic education in science and research should be encouraged among girls and women.
Appropriate and secure employment opportunities should be created in science and research for girls and women.
What message would you send to the public on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science?
Women and girls must be given suitable examples of women scientists and their impact. These examples can motivate them to follow a similar path. For instance, Shubha Tole is an example of an Indian woman who has made an extraordinary contribution in the field of neuroscience. She was part of the research team that discovered a master regulator gene which controls the development of the brain's cerebral cortex.