Gender bias is still deep-rooted in the country though literacy and employment among women have increased, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime and Traffic), Coimbatore City, N. Kamini said here on Monday. The bias, however, seemed to stem from a presumption that women still lacked the acumen to lead. One of the beliefs was that women were not technology-oriented and this contributed to the bias, she said.
Inaugurating a workshop on “Capacity Building of Women Managers in Higher Education” at Avinashilingam University, she asked: “There are many Central and State universities. But, how many of these have women Vice-Chancellors?”
There was an inherent flaw in the system in every sphere that made it accept a faulty theory that gender bias was a natural and biological and therefore inescapable. The workshop should look at ways to address issues arising out of such theories.
“Women are on an equal footing with men. They have the capacity to take crucial decisions and manage institutions. Yet, the crimes against them continue,” Ms. Kamini lamented.
“A rape is committed every 29 minutes, a girl is kidnapped every 26 minutes and 16 brides die a day because of dowry harassment,” she pointed out. As many as 30 different forms of violence were unleashed on women. Some stringent Acts had helped in curbing some of the crimes. But a lot more improvement needed to take place.
Explaining the objectives of the University Grants Commission (UGC)-sponsored workshop, UGC Core Group Resource Person for Capacity Building in Women Managers in Higher Education Karuna Chanana said women faculty members were being trained at the national and regional levels so that they became trainers at the local level.
They, in turn, trained women faculty members in educational institutions, including universities, in order to build the capacity in them to occupy high decision-making posts. “There is a need to address the problem of invisibility of women in decision-making in higher education. Women work as teachers, but are not in any decision-making body of the institutions,” she noted. “Institutions need to look more closely at their system that prevents women faculty members from moving up the ladder. Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors of universities should ensure there is no gender bias.”
Ms. Chanana said the UGC’s programme had so far sensitised 3,000 women faculty members through such workshops.
“The ongoing programme does not exclude men from the sensitisation process. They will be included later. At present, there is a huge gap that has to be bridged first by sensitising the women,” she said. Presiding over the inaugural, Chancellor of the university T.K. Shanmuganandam said though women were as talented and competent as men, they were not many of them at decision-making levels. The tertiary sector in education was no exception to this disparity in spite of the rise in the enrolment of women teachers. There were more qualified women now than two decades ago to take up high positions of governance in universities and other educational institutions. Trained women managers could bring about a shift from a gender-biased system to a gender-just one.
Regional Co-ordinator for the programme K. Hemalatha said the workshop would help the women faculty members identify their decision-making potential.