India can boast of the world’s largest number of professionally qualified women. Indian women have excelled in each and every field. But, there is much more to be done. Women academics are heavily under-represented in the university system and as they climb up their proportion decreases even though a large pool of women is waiting in the wings to move up, Chitra Rajagopal, Associate Director, Centre for Fire Explosive and Environment Safety, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said here on Monday. Delivering the convocation day address at Avinashilingam University for Women, she said that it was essential to build a critical mass of trained women, competent to hold senior administrative positions, shoulder to shoulder with men, to help in the process of removing gender barriers.

“Educating women from economically disadvantaged sections of society in multidisciplinary streams has far reaching impact. In India, a separate institution for women was a welcome opportunity for women who otherwise would never have been allowed to attend a co-educational institution. Now, women’s institutions have gone beyond providing access, to carve a unique role in society,” Ms. Rajagopal said.

Pointing out that one area that needed focus was that of reducing the gender gap in higher education. With statistics she went on to say that the scenario was much better than what it was earlier. There was no arena that remained unconquered by Indian women, be it politics, sports, entertainment, literature or technology.

T.S.K. Meenakshisundaram, Chancellor of the university, presided over and conferred the degrees to more than 1,000 candidates.

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