The ministry of science and technology will grade higher educational institutions and research institutes that it funds on gender equality from this academic year. While 20 institutes, including some Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and National Institutes of Technology (NITs), have signed up to be part of the pilot, the grading system will eventually be rolled out across all institutes — over 90 — funded partially or fully by the ministry.
The ratings — gold, silver and bronze — to STEM (science, tech, engineering, mathematics and medicine) institutes will be based on the number of women occupying science faculty positions in the institute, how well the institute recognises contributions by women scientists and the number of women fellows sent to Indian Academy of Sciences and Indian National Science Academy. Other parameters will include PhD awardees among women and how many women scientists returned after a sabbatical.
While gold grade is for institutes where beacons of gender equality achievement and role models exist, silver grade is for those which have identified challenges and demonstrated impact. Bronze grade recognises institutes which are working to promote equality.
“Our policy will initially include 20 institutes which will adopt a self-assessment process to develop an accreditation model to help identify gender gaps and barriers to progression faced by women in science based on interviews with them,” said Sanjay Mishra, head of KIRAN division at the department of science and technology (DST) which will give the ratings to institutions in collaboration with the British Council. The total budget of the project is Rs 8 crore, of which Rs 3 crore will be provided by the British Council.
Explaining what they hope to achieve with this initiative, Mishra said, “Ratings like these will not only bring about a cultural and mindset change but also encourage top authorities like vice-chancellors and directors to take all possible action to recruit, retain and promote more women in the STEM sector.”
“The project aims to engage, mentor, partner and support institutions as they work towards reaching the global best praxis for gender equality,” according to the DST policy, a copy of which is with TOI.
“At present, a couple of IITs and some NITs have been included in the pilot. Later, we will grade other institutes with the ministry’s approval,” added Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, DST.
The policy has been modelled after Athena SWAN (scientific women’s academic network), a charter that recognises and celebrates good practices in higher education and research institutions towards the advancement of gender equality in the UK.