Presented at IEEE All India Student Congress 2013 and 14th Regional Conference of International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists (INWES), questions the existence of the proverbial glass ceiling and provides justification in support of its existence.
“The term glass ceiling refers to the observation that
toplevel management in businesses consists predominantly, if
not exclusively, of a certain demographic
A "ceiling" is suggested because persons outside the
dominant demographic group are supposedly limited in
how far they are able to advance
inside the organization ranks; the ceiling is "glass"
(transparent) because the limitation is not immediately
The "glass ceiling" is distinguished from formal barriers
to advancement, such as education or
experience requirements. The existence of the glass
ceiling is frequently cited as a failure of existing antidiscrimin
It is no myth,
still a BARRIER !
How far is the nature of science bound up with the masculine ways
of thinking which engendered it, and can science be truly
universal and objective if it is so conceived?
-Evelyn Fox Keller
A Renowned Bio Physicist
“As a woman physicist, you will need to produce twice as much
work as a man to get half the recognition. The prejudice and chauvinism of many men (no matter where they are from)
towards women physicists is appalling.”
-Prof. Robert Lange, Ph.D Advisor to Dr. Radha Balakrishnan
Brandeis University, US
Although there may be an equal numbers of men and women
enrolled in science, the number of women who make it to higher positions dramatically falls. Even if we take into account th
out rate of women from the work force due to personal reasons,
the glass ceiling makes it very difficult for women to move into
Chairperson of Centre for Neuroscience, IISc.
Women as a share of total researchers, 2009 or latest available year
Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics, July 2011
Female researchers as a percentage of total researchers, 2009 or latest
available year Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics, July 2011.
1. The differential SOCIALIZATION PATTERNS of men
•and non academic factors such as marriage and family.
2.Negative ACADEMIC ADVISING
•between the male advisors and their female graduate students
3. CAREER CHOICE
•the chauvinistic, orthodox and taken for granted male model of
academics that discourages women from full participation.
As young girls,
be self reliant
Male graduates in
Female graduates in
30% of the
According to Indian Academy of Sciences
But where are these 30% female science
The constant need to prove
to their male compatriots of
their ability as a scientist, that
they won’t be subjugated by
their domestic life.
The expectation that women
students will succumb to the
pressures of child bearing and
child rearing makes some male
and female faculty wary of
taking on women students in the
Pushed down due to
lack of support for child
care and child rearing
Lack of adequate
Two shifts in work site:
from Ph.D. program to
post-doctoral position in
a different university and
from post-doc to yet
formidable difficulties encountered
in finding employment
commensurate with one’s
qualifications, without breaking up
“In the end, in spite of many opportunities to do research in the
United States (US), I decided to return to India, because I felt
unable to cope with the social pressures of being a woman in
physics in the US. It really was difficult to be an acceptable scientist
and an acceptable woman at the same time.
In India, I felt while there was not such overt discrimination against
women, there was a subtle one . Unlike the US where the
few women in science supported each other, in India, I found that
women in physics did not unite, but competed against one
another. There was and is no “sisterhood’ as in the States, perhaps
because a woman here vies for acceptability by the male
community. it is very difficult to defend women’s competence if the
person bringing you down is another woman.”
Bindu A Bambah
Ph.D. (1983, Chicago), of the School of Physics, University of
Hyderabad, is a recipient of the UNESCO Young Scientists
Award and the P M S Blackett Scholarship. She works in the
areas of theoretical high energy physics and dynamical
There are two types of men in academics with respect
Those who follow the male model;
with negative consequences for
Those who are aware of the
deleterious effect of the male
model on women and who
attempt to avert its worst
consequences for their female
Dearth of advisers who are willing to
encourage and be directive, because
women are often unable to puzzle out
the strategies necessary to get
through graduate school
Increased number of drop rates
due to lack of professional, financial
and emotional support.
women by their
A woman is expected to be docile and not ask too many
questions. Even where women are allowed to study and
work, some roles are still assigned to women by men. This
often acts as a deterrent for young women who may have
wished to take up careers in science.
Girls of my generation usually did not think of a lifelong
career and took up a job in a bank or became a teacher
because this career path was considered to be ‘trouble-free’.
Ph.D. (1983, Madras), She received the Stree Shakti
Samman, the Bronze medal of the CRSI, and the
Raman Research Fellowship, CSIR. She was at the
Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in
Gottingen, Germany for several years, and since
1990 she has been a scientist at the CLRI. She is a
I was told by these people that
whatever a woman did,
ultimately her role was that of a
good wife and a mother!
“I have used the word ‘fortunate’ for the simple reason that one has
to be nominated for any worthwhile award and for the Fellowship of
the Science Academy, and it was almost impossible for me, a
woman scientist in a man-dominated field, to get nominated for
prestigious awards like the Bhatnagar award. Another incident of
differential gender treatment was apparent when the Director of PRL
was to be chosen in the mid-1980s. Invariably, I had to face the
jealousy of my male colleagues. It may sound strange but it is true
that one’s scientific work is appreciated much more abroad than it
is in one’s own Country”
Ph.D. (1962, Chicago), FNA, FNASc, FTWAS. Fellow American Physical
Society. She is a past Director, Plasma Physics, ICTP, Trieste and was
President, Commission C49 of IAU. She worked in Physical Research
Laboratory. She received the Sarabhai Award for Planetary Sciences. She is a
theoretical plasma physicist.
INGREDIENTS TO SHATTER THIS CEILING!
It is important that women scientists develop a support
system, and this can happen only if women scientists
network together and support and help each other.
As a minority in the work environment and between
managing two jobs - (home and the work place) – women
scientists lack the time required to network with peers and
build a support system, where one can share both triumphs
and disappointments, (the latter constituting a big part of a
Women scientists particularly need help and support to tide
over the early period of marriage and child rearing
when they are struggling to balance their early career with
a growing family.
WHAT ELSE CAN BE DONE!
Believe in yourself!!!
Create balance in your life
Create you own style / develop your brand
Have mentors / be a mentor
Network, network, network (join industry
Take stretch opportunities
Ask for it
Find your passion
Ph.D. (1970, Brandeis) works at the Institute of Mathematical
Sciences, Chennai in the area of nonlinear dynamics and
applications in physics.
When the going gets tough (as it surely will), hold your
head high, work hard, and do not give up! Take inspiration
from the heroic lives of Sophie Germain, Ada Lovelace,
Sonya Kovalevskaya, Marie Curie, Lise Meitner, Emmy
Noether, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and Maria
Goeppert-Meyer. The joy that one derives out of
original research, however small one’s contribution may be,
cannot be explained in words. It has to be experienced.
LET US LOOK forward to
helping create a new generation of
empowered scientists, who will
be known as scientists who happen to be
women, but not women