To address the issue of the low percentage of women in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), the central government has planned to introduce Vigyan Jyothi, an initiative to encourage girl students in the above-mentioned streams of education. This program will also fund the educational expenses of the girl students who manage to secure admission into top institutions for the STEM courses.
Initially, this program ‘Vigyan Jyothi’ aims to encourage 100 girls across 550 districts in the time period of 2020 – 2025, said the officials. They further mentioned that these girl students would be selected on the basis of their percentage.
According to the DST data, of the total number of students passed out of engineering with STEM subjects, a total of 24% were females. At the post-graduation level, the numbers were 22%, 28% comprised of females of the total number at MPhil and 35% at the PhD level.
Keeping in mind the statistics of the lower number of girl students in the STEM subjects, the central government has come up with this initiative that is expected to be launched in the last week of October, said Sanjiv Mishra, who is known for his work as a scientist in the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology (DST) said that organizing science camps in the nearby IITs, NITs, and other national laboratories will be a part of this program to get the students acquainted with the experience of being a part of the institute in terms of culture, motivation, and interaction with the scientists. He further added that this programme would cover girl students from class 9 to 12.
Ashutosh Sharma further added that the number of girl students in the IITs is only 10% and that it has remained constant for several years now. And to improve the numbers, a different kind of approach is required. He feels that the girl students do not see the role models in those fields, and it has to be addressed as well.
He said that counselling the girl student’s parents will also be a part of the program as this will help provide them with a better understanding of these underrepresented streams and address their concerns. He added that if a girl gets into any of these underrepresented areas of study in any IITs, she will also receive a fellowship.
The students will also be given financial incentives to cover any additional expenses such as travelling to the science camps, etc. It encourages the students to clear any queries by interacting with top women leaders in the field of Science and Technology, Universities, and institutions like DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization).