In India, girls are often encouraged to pursue courses like arts, while boys are encouraged to pursue careers/courses in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Despite this, percentage-wise there are more Indian female graduates in STEM fields at the tertiary level compared to developed nations like the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany.
Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan revealed this in the Lok Sabha in response to a question on Monday, July 19. While in India the female share of graduates in STEM was 42.72 per cent in 2016, that of the United States was 33.99 per cent, Germany 27.14, United Kingdom 38.10, France 31.81 and Canada 31.43 per cent, reported Business Standard.
The minister shared the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) data for past three years which revealed that while the number of men in STEM decreased from 12.48 lakh in 2017-18 to 11.88 lakh in 2019-20, the number of women grew from 10 lakh to 10.56 lakh during the same period.
Does This Also Translate Into Same Number Of Women In The Workforce?
However, the data does not necessarily translate into female labor participation rate in India. In fact, it is bleak with a mere 20.7 per cent participation rate and even lesser STEM participation by women. Their proportion in STEM careers is barely 14 per cent. Gendered stereotypes, the perception of the household and children as the women's primary responsibility are among some of the things responsible for the abysmal participation of women in STEM.
Indian women working in STEM jobs in India are likely dropping out due to gender discrimination, like their counterparts in developed countries, said Sai Krishna Kumaraswamy, a co-author of a report by the World Bank on advancing women's participation in this domain.
Women And STEM Jobs
Also, women continue to face harassment discrimination at the workplace in terms of promotion and career advancement opportunities. A Kelly Global Workforce Insights (KGWI) survey highlighted that that 81 per cent of Indian women in STEM jobs conceded facing gender bias in performance evaluation and that they drop out of the STEM workforce around the childbearing phase or at mid-management levels. According to the study, 42 per cent of women leave technology companies after 10 years of experience as compared to only 17 per cent of men.
As a result, there are very few women at the top. Though India ranked second in the world's top 20 countries with the highest number of female CEOs, the share of female CEOs in tech companies in India is only 5.01 per cent. Women also constitute only 14 per cent of the 280,000 scientists, engineers in research and development institutes in India.
Also Read: Go Clean, Go Green: Student Initiative Transforms Plastic Waste Into Hydroponic Plant Holders