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Vigyan-Vidushi – 2023: Empowering Women in Physics

Why the Scheme is in News?

Vigyan-Vidushi – 2023, an initiative aimed at achieving gender balance in the field of Physics at the doctoral level, has commenced at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE) in Mumbai. This program brings together 40 female students from various institutes across India who have recently completed their first year of MSc in Physics. The program aims to provide them with exposure to advanced physics courses and encourage them to conduct innovative experiments.

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Since 2020, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) has been organizing a three-week summer program called “Vigyan Vidushi” for female students pursuing Physics at the MSc level. Due to the COVID pandemic, the program was initially started, and for the first time, it will be conducted entirely in a residential format at HBCSE from June 12 to July 1, 2023.

About the Vigyan-Vidushi – 2023

During the program, the Director of HBCSE, Prof. Arnab Bhattacharya, presented successful women scientists who have built successful careers in physics worldwide, aiming to inspire and motivate the female students pursuing MSc in Physics. Prof. Savita Ladage, the Dean of HBCSE, highlighted that previous batches of students who participated in this program gained a fresh perspective on the vast possibilities of a career in Physics. She urged the current students to become ambassadors of the program and share their knowledge to encourage other female students to study Physics.

Vigyan-Vidushi – 2023: Initiative to Address Gender Balance in Physics Doctorate Level

  • “Vigyan -Vidushi – 2023” program launched at HBCSE in Mumbai.
  • Aimed at addressing gender imbalance in Physics at the doctorate level.
  • 40 women students from various institutes attending the program.
  • Program offers advanced physics courses and encourages innovative experiments.

Vigyan-Vidushi – 2023: Summer Program for Girl Students Pursuing Physics at M.Sc. Level

  • Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) initiates “Vigyan Vidushi” program.
  • Started in 2020 and held in residential mode for the first time from 12 June to 1 July 2023.
  • Three-week program at HBCSE, Mumbai.

Vigyan-Vidushi – 2023: Inspiring Women in Physics

  • Centre Director of HBCSE highlights successful women scientists in physics worldwide
  • Dean of HBCSE emphasizes the career possibilities in physics for program attendees.
  • Urges students to become ambassadors and inspire other girls to study physics.

Vigyan-Vidushi – 2023: Introduction and Overview of Vigyan Vidushi

  • Prof. Vandana Nanal, Convenor of Vigyan Vidushi -2023, introduces the program.
  • Prof. Anwesh Mazumdar provides an overview of the program.

Vigyan-Vidushi – 2023: Gender Imbalance in Physics

  • Global concern of gender gap in STEM fields, including physics.
  • Low enrollment of female students in natural science, mathematics, and statistics (~5% globally).
  • India faces acute gender imbalance in physics.
  • Survey reveals ~23% female students at the doctoral level in select Indian research institutes.
  • Need for a multi-pronged approach including mentoring, networking, and gender sensitization.

Vigyan-Vidushi – 2023: Concrete Steps to Address Under-representation of Women in Science

  • Vigyan Vidushi program dedicated to postgraduate girl students.
  • A small but significant step to address under-representation of women in science in India.

Vigyan-Vidushi – 2023: Program Features and Activities

  • Workshop includes interactive guiding sessions for research careers in physics.
  • Lectures by prominent women scientists, group discussions, and confidence-building.
  • Addresses gender-related challenges and introduces physics education research.
  • Sessions on problem-solving and career guidance, including research opportunities.
  • Visits to research laboratories at TIFR, Colaba, and Giant Metrowave Radio Telescope (GMRT) near Pune.
  • Mentoring and inspiration provided by successful women scientist role models.

Vigyan-Vidushi – 2023: Aim and Key Objecctives

  • Prof. Vandana Nanal, the Convenor of Vigyan Vidushi -2023, introduced the students to the concept of Vigyan Vidushi and provided an overview of the program. Prof. Anwesh Mazumdar also presented an overview of the program.
  • Prof. Nanal emphasized that the gender disparity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is a global issue.
  • The enrollment of female students in natural science, mathematics, and statistics is particularly low, at around 5% globally. In India, the problem is especially severe in the field of Physics.
  • A survey of prestigious Physics departments in India revealed that the percentage of female students at the doctoral level is approximately 23%.
  • Addressing this problem requires a multifaceted approach, including mentoring, developing networking skills, and incorporating gender sensitization in science education.
  • These measures have been highlighted by national and global surveys and recommended by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.
  • Vigyan Vidushi is a program specifically designed for female postgraduate students and serves as a small but concrete step towards tackling the issue of women’s under-representation in science in India, according to Prof. Nanal.
  • Prof. Anwesh Mazumdar, the Co-Convenor of the program, shared that the workshop includes interactive guidance sessions on pursuing research careers in physics, lectures by renowned women scientists, group discussions, enhancing self-confidence, addressing gender-related challenges, and an introduction to Physics Education research.
  • Furthermore, the program will cover topics such as problem-solving strategies and provide career guidance regarding research opportunities, as mentioned by Prof. Amol Dighe, the Co-Convenor.
  • The students will also have the opportunity to visit research laboratories at TIFR, Colaba, and the Giant Metrowave Radio Telescope (GMRT) near Pune.
  • Throughout the program, they will be taught, inspired, and mentored by successful female scientists who serve as role models.

Vigyan-Vidushi – 2023: Vision

40 students have been chosen for the Vigyan Vidushi workshop out of a pool of 500 applicants from all over the country, including the North-Eastern regions. The selection process took into account their academic backgrounds and recommendation letters. During the workshop, the students will have the opportunity to visit different research institutions. This program, initiated by TIFR, aims to support female students in their early years and will be extended in the future to benefit a larger number of girls.