Women Scientists Scheme of the Department of Science and Technology revives their career

A gap of six years has not dipped her enthusiasm for research neither did family responsibilities diminish her desire to go back to studies. When the opportunity came, she lapped it up gleefully.

Subha Senkhula is one of the several women who gave a break to their higher educational opportunities due to marriage, motherhood and family responsibilities and are now back in research labs reviving their hopes of contributing to the society thanks to Women Scientists Scheme of the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

Rising confidence

In fact, the number of such women from the State is rising year after year and they now stand on a par with women from Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and West Bengal. Women, particularly from small towns of the State, are regaining their confidence and interest in academics using the scheme.

“The number was very low till a few years ago but it has picked up due to sensitisation programmes,” says H.B. Singh, officer-in-charge for the Women Scientist Scheme (WOS) of the DST.

Back to the labs

The scheme was launched by the DST to provide opportunities to women scientists and technologists between the age group of 30-50 years who desired to return to mainstream science and work as bench-level scientists.

Subha, who did her M.Sc. (Micro Biology), could not pursue her research interest midway due to marriage. Now, she is working on isolation and identification of microbes associated with human obesity at JNTU Kakinada, and is almost through with her project.

Similarly, M. Lalita, who took a break after her M.Tech. in Biotechnology for marriage, is back in the lab. She is working on diabetes and how Biotechnology and Bioinformatics can be combined to find a solution to the problem.

Potential of women

“I realised that the potential of such women was being wasted and conducted a sensitisation programme two years ago with the help of DST,” says Allam Appa Rao, former Vice-Chancellor of JNTU Kakinada and Director of C.R. Rao Advanced Institute for Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (AIMSCS).

Both Subha and Lalita were the beneficiaries of that programme.

Mr. Singh says the scheme is offered in three streams. Under scholarship for research in Basic and Applied Science (WOS-A) grants are given to the tune of Rs.23 lakh to Rs.20 lakh while scholarship for research in S&T based Societal Programmes (WOS-B) is to the tune of Rs.15 lakh.

The internship for the Self-Employment (WOS-C) stream focuses on providing an opportunity in their specialised domain knowledge in areas such as science journalism, technical translation, clinical pathology labs, medical transcription and patenting.

In fact, DST is now planning to launch a separate website where such women can submit their proposals directly. The scheme is open throughout the year.

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