Towards a balanced world

Take every possible action to attract, hire and promote more women in STEM fields.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images/Istock Photo

There has been a lot of talk in the recent years about gender disparity in STEM. To counter this, the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, and the British Council have introduced the Gender Advancement through Transforming Institutions (GATI), an initiative that aims to establish a Gender Equality framework.

Institutions that sign the GATI charter will adopt gender equality principles and create Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound (SMART) action plans for systemic and cultural transformation.

In an interaction, Barbara Wickham OBE, Director, British Council India, delves into the framework’s importance, its potential to transform the Higher Education sector and how GATI’s salient features are aligned to the NEP 2020.

How will the higher education sector make use of GATI?

GATI is a joint programme based on a highly successful initiative implemented in the UK: the Athena Swan charter. The British Council is the facilitator, creating ties between Indian stakeholders and U.K. institutions to achieve the desired transformation.

The project aims to create a new ecosystem that builds competencies of Indian institutions and enables them to establish sustainable partnerships with UK institutions who have already begun their gender equality journey for mutual learning.

GATI aims to nudge higher education institutions (HEIs) and research organisations to better support diversity and inclusion for talent progression, and establish an enabling environment for equal participation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine and Mathematics (STEMM) at all levels by addressing systemic challenges. It seeks to increase recruitment, retention, and women’s progression throughout their professional journeys.

Could you explain how the self-assessment and accreditation process will work?

A significant aspect of GATI is that it can test, accredit and recognise organisations through a GATI Award, which will be along the same lines as the Athena Swan award in the UK. The GATI framework can also assist institutions in meeting the requirements and expectations of national and international funders and research councils. Institutions can identify areas for positive action and share good practice with other institutions.

Adopting the GATI framework will also support the promotion of inclusive working practices that can increase retention of valued women academics and support staff by demonstrating an institution’s commitment to an equitable working environment.

Through GATI, the aim is to inspire senior leaders such as vice-chancellors and directors to take every possible action to attract, hire and promote more women in STEM fields in India.

Universities, research institutions and institutes of national importance that sign up will pledge to embrace its principles in their policies, practices, action-plans and organisational set up.

A metric-based evaluation method is being designed for institutions to compete for the award. Participating organisations will be provided with training and support at every stage and will also be partnered with UK institutions who have enormous experience on similar gender equality charters. They will be shortlisted on their commitment to promoting gender equality, as evidenced by currently implemented gender policies and ongoing gender-enabling programmes and activities.

What do institutions need to do as part of the action plan?

GATI will guide institutions in collecting data to determine if barriers exist and what can be done to tackle them.

As much as increasing the number of women in STEM is crucial to promote gender balance, equal representation alone will not automatically remove the barriers to gender equality.

Advancement of gender equality involves removing the structural barriers, including social, cultural, and economic, which prevent female students, faculty and staff from achieving their potential.

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Printable version | May 18, 2021 12:25:31 PM |

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