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We need gender equity in science and technology avenues through multi-pronged strategy
The question of a very few women opting for science, mathematics and technology continues to crop up every now and then. Research studies have shown that the disparity between men's and women's representation in science and mathematics arises from culture, both the in the society, classroom climate and teaching practices rather than genetics.

Many conferences on the issue have been held in various countries and at global level to discuss gender issues related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and occupations. I have attended a few of them which had highlighted the implications and made recommendations to improve the situation. However, the institutions and teachers do not take recommendations seriously to improve curricular and make them girl friendly.

The 8th Gender and Science and Technology Conference, held in India, deliberated on the current scenario of gender imbalance in science and technology, and identified the issues related to this problem which have been summarized here. The issues are multi-level and many-fold in relation to gender and education and society, ie, situation is complex and requires actions at many levels and in many ways.

At the formal and non-formal education levels, the following efforts are needed:

• Access, retention and quality (content and process of education; equity in levels of learning).

• Nature of the science and technology and their presentation.

• Science and technology relations and pedagogies.

• Access to open learning opportunities and strategies in science and technology.

• Space for knowledge generation from the lived experiences of women.

• Efforts for enhancing women's science and technology literacy.

At the level of career and employment the following steps are required:

• Structure and practices of employment and work in science and technology related areas.

• Career counseling for girls.

• Income generating skills in science and technology related areas.

• Support to women professionals working in science and technology related jobs.

• Gender sensitive work culture.

At the advocacy level, the following things need to be done:

• Policy influencing at national level to make science and technology education and employment gender inclusive.

• Studying national plans of action from gender point of view and emphasizing equity at various public forums.

• Getting more men to support gender equity in technology education.

At the levels of social change and restructuring of society, the need is to do the following:

• Gender sensitization of people's representatives.

• Raising public debates on gender-related issues.

• Gender sensitization of teachers and employers.

• Gender sanitization of media.

The list given here is not exhaustive; many more issues are there which are related to gender sensitive planning and management of technology education and employment.

A wrong image of science and technology, which is being created in educational institutions, is related to the presentation of scientific knowledge as final, certain and unproblematic.

Due to this situation, the teacher assumes the role of knowledge dispenser. Therefore, students' creative thinking in science is overshadowed by the authority and expertise of the teacher. Consequently, girls suffer the most and they get inhibited about expressing ideas and worried about getting their answers incorrect. The need is to reorient school teachers to acknowledge in their classroom instruction that science, as a body of knowledge, is provisional and that its ideas, the areas and laws are tentative, and are subjects to change.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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