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Breaking the Glass Ceiling


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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.

Published in: Education, Career, Science
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Breaking the Glass Ceiling

  1. 1. “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 apparent. 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 ation action.”
  2. 2. Glass Ceiling It is no myth, still a BARRIER ! sleek Diaphonous Seemingly impervious
  3. 3. 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 drop- out rate of women from the work force due to personal reasons, the glass ceiling makes it very difficult for women to move into higher positions. -Vijayalakshmi Ravindranath, Chairperson of Centre for Neuroscience, IISc.
  4. 4. Women as a share of total researchers, 2009 or latest available year Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics, July 2011
  5. 5. Female researchers as a percentage of total researchers, 2009 or latest available year Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics, July 2011.
  6. 6. 1. The differential SOCIALIZATION PATTERNS of men and women, •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.
  7. 7. As young girls, women are encouraged to seek help. Pressures of society, family and children Women Encouraged to be self reliant and function autonomously No such pressure Men
  8. 8. Male graduates in sciences Female graduates in sciences 30% of the graduates are Women According to Indian Academy of Sciences
  9. 9. But where are these 30% female science graduates? 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 first place Pushed down due to lack of support for child care and child rearing Lack of adequate support and encouragement from the family. Two shifts in work site: from Ph.D. program to post-doctoral position in a different university and from post-doc to yet another work-site formidable difficulties encountered in finding employment commensurate with one’s qualifications, without breaking up the family.
  10. 10. “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 systems.
  11. 11. There are two types of men in academics with respect to women: Those who follow the male model; with negative consequences for women 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 advisees.
  12. 12. 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. Exploitation of women by their mentors Negative Advising
  13. 13. 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’. Aruna Dhathathreyan 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 biophysical chemist. I was told by these people that whatever a woman did, ultimately her role was that of a good wife and a mother!
  14. 14. It has been found that..
  15. 15. “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” Bimla Buti 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.
  16. 16. INGREDIENTS TO SHATTER THIS CEILING! knowing how to create and use networks knowing how to gain support of influential persons being able to defend one’s self efficient organization acceptance of criticism ambition energy determination Self confidence
  17. 17. 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 scientist’s life!) 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!
  18. 18.  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 groups)  Take stretch opportunities  Ask for it  Get training  Find your passion  Embrace diversity
  19. 19. -Dr.Radha Balakrishnan 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.
  20. 20. 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 scientists.