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Need to Inspire Girls towards STEM Education

ASHOK KAURA | February 11, 2022 07:15 PM

Science City Celebrates International Day for Women & Girls in Science
KAPURTHALA: Pushpa Gujral Science City celebrated International Day for Women & Girls in Science by organizing a panel discussion with leading women personalities in STEM Education, as well as, a 2-day lecture series under WISE Vision KIRAN Scheme in collaboration with DST, Govt. of India. More than 100 girl students and teachers from all over India attended the panel discussion in the afternoon and the lecture series in the morning.

Dr. Swati Basu Former Scientific Consultant in O/O Principal Scientific Adviser to GoI in PMO and Former Scientific Secretary, Govt. of India was the Chief Guest at this occasion. Known as the “Weather Woman” of the country, she is credited with being the first Indian woman to go to the Arctic North. She said that International Day for Women & Girls in Science is celebrated to promote equal opportunities to women and girls for careers in science. She informed that under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Govt. of India was linking academic
institutions, R & D labs, Govt. Ministries and Departments, industries, start-ups, philanthropic bodies and international organizations to give a boost to S & T. She also spoke about Science Advisory Policy which is in consonance with national and global needs.

She highlighted India’s achievement in weather forecasting and said that women participation in this area needed to be increased. A lot of efforts in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science have been made over the past decade in India, she added.

Moderating the conversation, Dr. Neelima Jerath, Director General, Science City said that International Day of Women and Girls in Science celebrates the achievements of women scientists and innovators and reminds us to work towards creating an enabling environment for female Scientists and Technologists. She informed that though 43% of women enrolled in STEM as undergraduate level in India, but only 14% move to higher jobs in S & T with only 3% enrolling in PhD. She further informed that S & T needs to be taken to rural women also. Hence, PGSC
has set up ‘Women Technology Park’ to empower the rural women and make them ‘Atma Nirbhar’.

The Panelist at the occasion were luminaries listed in “Lilavati’s Daughters”, i.e. Prof. Manju Bansal, Professor of Theoretical Biophysics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; Dr. Tanusri Saha Dasgupta, Director, S.N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata and Dr. Sudesh Kaur Khanduja, INSA Sr. Scientist & Professor Mathematical Sciences, IISER Mohali who shared their success stories.

Prof. Manju Bansal who is a Fulbright Fellow and visiting Professor at Rutgers Univ, USA shared her work on DNA structure and how she developed new computational tools for analysis and modeling nucleic acid and protein structure. She urged the need to encourage and inspire girls and women to achieve their full potential as scientific researchers and innovators.

Dr. Tanusri Saha Dasgupta who is recipient of APJ Abdul Kalam Award, JC Bose Fellowship, DAE-Raja Ramanna Prize and Fellow of the World Academy of Sciences, shared how her will power and determination helped her to overcome family pressure and language barrier to pursue her research work to achieve her goals. She motivated girls and young women to train themselves in emerging technologies to make themselves part of impactful solutions.

Dr. Sudesh Kaur Khanduja, recipient of Prof. Narlikar Memorial Lecture Award and Fellow of TWAS, shared challenges faced by women in the society to gain education.

While thanking the experts, Dr. R. Grover, Director, Science City said that women’s role in society was very important. With increasing push for gender parity, their contribution in S & T was increasing considerably. Even PGSC was being led by the first women DG of a Science City in India and 3 out of 5 scientific institutions in Punjab were presently headed by Women Scientists.

In the Forenoon program conducted in collaboration with DST, Dr. Nisha Mendiratta, Head KIRAN Division informed about DST’s programs specifically for women in science. The Chief Guest was Dr. Ajit Chaturvedi who spoke on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Dr. Chamma Awasthi, DST and Dr. Rakesh Pandey, CIMAP spoke on use of microbes in crop protection and role of medicinal and aromatic plants in societal development.

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