Role of women in leading scientific research has dropped: Report

The data shows that 83 per cent of Co-PIs were male and 17 per cent were female.

Published: 02nd July 2021 06:40 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd July 2021 07:26 PM   |  A+A-

For representational purposes

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The involvement of women as science leaders seems to have fallen with the percentage of women leading research projects decreasing by 3 per cent over the last one year, said a recent government report.

Women Principal Investigators (PIs) participating in research that received Extramural Research (EMR) support (support through peer-reviewed competitive grant mechanism) was 28 per cent during 2018-19, as compared to 31 per cent in 2017-18, according to the Directory of Extramural Research & Development (R&D) Project 2018-19 report released by the government recently.

Of the total 4626 projects, men headed around 74 per cent of them while women led the remaining 26 per cent.   

Information on Co-Principal Investigators (Co-PIs) is recorded specifically with an intent to highlight the wider participation of women in Extramural Research (EMR). The data shows that 83 per cent of Co-PIs were male and 17 per cent were female.

The report also showed that extramural R&D support or R&D support through peer-reviewed competitive grant mechanisms by the central government was Rs 2091.04 crore in 2018-19 as compared to Rs 2036.32 crore in 2017-18 -- an increase of Rs. 54.72 crore over the previous year. The number of projects supported has increased, as has the number of PIs. A total of 3839 PIs undertook 4616 projects in comparison to 3491 PIs undertaking 4137 projects during 2017-18.

Of this support, 64 per cent of the projects were received by eight states, including Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal accounting for 71 per cent of the share of funding.

The 22 Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs) combined received 822 projects -- the maximum number -- with the highest financial support of Rs. 449.25 crore, followed by 26 National Institute of Technology (NITs) combined, which received 191 projects with a financial support of Rs. 55.83 crore. The maximum financial support went to Engineering and Technology, while the maximum number of projects went to Biological Sciences.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) accounted for the maximum Extramural Research (EMR) support of Rs. 1392.21 crore (67 per cent), followed by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) with Rs. 341.37 crore (16 per cent). The two Departments together contributed to 83 per cent of the total extramural R&D funding in India.

Extramural Research and Development (R&D) projects support is a peer-reviewed competitive grant mechanism of the Central Government to promote, catalyze and advance R&D and innovation in the country and provides special encouragement to scientists to pursue a research career.

Centre for Human and Organisational Resource Development (CHORD) division, formerly known as the National Science and Technology Management Information System (NSTMIS) division of the DST, has been collating, analyzing, and disseminating information on Extramural Research and Development projects funded by various scientific agencies.

The Scientific and Technological (S&T) activities play a vital role in the economic, social, and physical development of a country. Scientific and technological research needs huge investments and calls for judicious utilization of scarce resources like finance, trained manpower, raw materials, and so on. Data collection and analysis pertaining to resources devoted to S&T, therefore, assumes significant importance. The growth of S&T, its performance, and its impact on society and economy are indicators to assess the effectiveness of planning and policy formulation.


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