Career opportunities for women in Engineering
Talk of women who have made a mark in technology and the names of people like Tessy Thomas, Kalpana Chawala, Kiran and Sheryl Sandberg crop up. They are sure to inspire more women to enter engineering fields like aerospace engineering, biotechnology and computer science engineering and information technology. However, as All India Council for Technical Education’s (AICTE) data shows, things are not that bright in India. Out of 144 women-only engineering and technology institutions the total enrolment for 2014-15 was 18,305 compared to the sanctioned intake of 50,537, which means there were no takers for 32, 232 seats.
The enrolled women students in 17 IITs put together have been increased from 10,800 in June 2015 to 11768 in Jan 2016. The situation was much worse two decades back when girls were reported to be less than 5 percent. Including all IITs, enrolment of girls in PhD is 4600 which clearly indicates the inclination of women towards research. As one moves from UG to PG, enrolment is 3900 and 3200 respectively.
Google India Women in Engineering Award
Google instituted this award in memory of Anita Borg in the year 2008. Anita Borg was an American technology rebel who had the vision of including women in the technological revolution. It was started with an aim of recognizing and awarding deserving women students in the field of Computer Science and engineering. Any Indian girl student from a recognized institution, decent CGPA along with specialization in computer science engineering or related majors is eligible to apply for this award. Each scholar recipient receives a cash prize of INR 1,00,000 each.
Consulting Engineers Association of India National Awards for Women Engineers
CEAI constituted following three awards for women engineers in the year 2015 to recognize, honor and promote the contributions of women engineers in India.
i) Sherpa Award for young engineers
ii) Innovation in engineering award
iii) Lifetime achievement award
Sherpa and innovation in engineering awards are for women engineers who are either an entrepreneur or working independently or employed in an engineering organization whereas Lifetime achievement award is for women engineers having 25 years of experience in engineering at international and national levels.
Kalpana Chawla Memorial Award
Named after astronaut of courage Kalpana Chawla, this award was started by Biyani Girls College, Rajasthan and her father B.L Chawla in the year 2007 with an aim of motivating girls to achieve success in their careers.
Why women don’t take to engineering?
From lack of awareness to wrong perceptions, reasons are aplenty as to why a lot of bright women students don’t prefer engineering as a career. “The dip in number of enrollment of girls in undergraduate engineering is because there are better vocational courses available for girls besides engineering and many a times girls are not inclined towards technical and engineering courses,” says Dr Promila Kaushal, Principal of Indo Global College of Engineering, Mohali.
Women students are more inclined to Computer Science and Information Technology and hence their presence in other streams take a beating, leading to the overall number of women coming down in engineering education domain. “The AICTE numbers get heavily influenced by the general lack of interest of girls in a few particular branches of engineering like Mechanical and Civil Engineering. But in case of CS, IT and E&TC engineering, the numbers are much better and we have a large number of girls,” informs Dr T.P. Singh, Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Symbiosis Institute of Technology, Pune.
Dr. Promila Kaushal,
The dip in number of enrollment of girls in the UG Engineering is because there are better vocational courses available for girls besides engineering and many a times girls are not inclined towards technical and engineering skills.
Preferred and non-preferred domains
Although choosing a branch totally depends on one’s interest, still there are some factors that influence the decision. Representation of women in CS, ITy, Electronics & Communication, Bio-engineering and chemical engineering is the highest as these are either non-strenuous or the pay scale is better as compared to other branches like Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering and Automation Engineering where pay scale may not be bad but a career in these branches would demand lot of strenuous field work.
“Though girls are beating boys in all fields including education, however, as per natural compatibilities, the most preferable engineering domains may include CSE, IT, Electronics & Communication, and Electrical Engineering; and least sought domains are Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Automobile Engineering,” said Dr Sham Lal Singla, VC, SGT University.
Dr. Sham Lal Singla,
Though girls are beating boys in all fields including education as per natural compatibilities, the most preferable engineering domains may include CSE, IT, Electronics & Communication, and Electrical Engineering.
The trend seems to be changing, for instance, in Aerospace Engineering. “Traditionally Aerospace engineering have been a male dominated. Not anymore. More and more women are taking up aerospace engineering as their career option. Aerospace offers more opportunities to woman than any other disciplines since the field itself is discipline of disciplines. There is huge scope for woman candidates in DRDO, ISRO and NAL and there are many woman scientists in these organizations occupying very high ranking positions in these organizations,” said Dr S. Gopalakrishnan, Chairman, Department of Aerospace Engineering, IISc Bangalore.
Dr. T.P. Singh,
The numbers get influenced by lack of interest of girls in a few particular branches of Engineering like Mechanical and Civil Engineering. But in case of CS, IT and E&TC, the numbers are much better and we have a large number of girls.
Women who made a mark
A lot of Indian women have made a mark in various domains of engineering. To work with the country’s highly secretive missile development programme is not an easy task. But Dr Tessy Thomas took it as a challenge. She is the first women scientist to head a missile project in India in DRDO and rightly came to be called the “Missile Woman”. HRD Minister, Smriti Irani recognized the immense contribution of Dr Tessy and nominated her to the IIT Council. “One gentleman who shall remain unnamed told me that there are not many women who come up enough to be a part of IIT council. I distinctively remembered and called one such woman. She was the part of missile programme in India and complimented the efforts of Dr. Kalam. Her name is Tessy Thomas,” Irani told the World Summit on Accreditation 2016 organized by the National Board of Accreditation in New Delhi recently.
Total intake and enrolment in women-only UG institutions
May George, from Chennai who came up with low-cost housing solutions is yet another iconic woman engineer. Women of courage, astronauts Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams have inspired so many girls to make a career in aerospace engineering. A tech superstar and a corporate leader Padmasree is one of the most powerful and celebrated names in Silicon Valley in an industry dominated by men. Worked as engineering head in cisco, Padmasree Warrior served the company for almost eight years and was listed in top 100 most powerful women by Forbes. Looking ahead
With Sheryl Sandberg, the COO Facebook; Ruth Porat, CFO of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc; Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube; Angela Ahrendts, Senior VP, Apple; Amy Hood, CFO, Microsoft; Meg Whitman, CEO, HP Enterprise; and Marissa Mayer, the president and CEO of Yahoo ranked as the seven most powerful women in technology by Forbes, it’s high time Indian women too followed their footsteps.
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