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Leadership in Indian Academia: The Missing Minerva?


Leadership in Indian Academia: The Missing Minerva? Neelam Kumar CSIR-NISTADS India Email: neelam_nistads_at_yahoo.com/ kumarneelam28_at_gmail.com – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Leadership in Indian Academia: The Missing Minerva?

Leadership in Indian Academia The Missing
Neelam Kumar CSIR-NISTADS India Email
neelam_nistads_at_yahoo.com/ kumarneelam28_at_gmail.com
  • Gender-based disadvantages of a patriarchal
    culture continue even in the twenty-first century
  • Numerically, the Indian higher education system
    is one of the largest in the world, with 659
    universities (out of which only around six are
    womens universities) and approximately 4500
    womens colleges out of about 35,539
    under-graduate colleges.
  • Modern education for women in India began in the
    early years of the nineteenth century and by the
    1880s universities started admitting them. The
    progress was extremely slow until 1921, but there
    had been a phenomenal growth over the decades.
    India has a rich legacy of eminent women in
    different fields.
  • Hansaben Mehta as early as 1946, not only became
    a Vice Chancellor, but could make outstanding
    contributions to the development of education in
  • Despite consistent increase in the number of
    women students enrolled in higher education, low
    number of women in academic positions especially
    at leadership level remains a disturbing mark in
    Indian academia.
  • Higher education system in India essentially
    reflect masculine ethos! Vertical as well as
    hierarchical segregation in terms of gender
    remains a persistent phenomenon.
  • Though, there is lack of systematic and
    comprehensive data, it is clear that only a
    handful of women hold the positions of authority
    or decision-making, such as Rector or Dean.

  • Indian educational policies are somewhat away
    from serious or meaningful gender concerns. A few
    meaningless efforts, with somewhat superficial
    objectives, to enhance and increase the number of
    women manager in higher education have recently
    been initiated. The persistent gender gap in
    education reflects poorly on the Indian policies
    and the missing Minervas!
  • The specific objectives of the scheme of capacity
    building of Women Manager in Higher Education are
    to develop a perspective plan and strategy for
    reducing the gender gap in higher education
    system, to offer various training programmes at
    different levels for stimulating women to aspire
    to become administrators etc. A scheme has
    initiated by UGC and implemented to increase the
    participation of women in higher education
    management for better gender balance to
    sensitize the higher education system through
    policies and procedures, and to develop
    qualitative higher education by involving the
    unutilized pool of women capable of becoming

  • The specific objectives of the scheme are to
  • 1) a perspective plan and strategy for reducing
    the gender gap in the higher education system, to
    offer various training programmes at different
    levels to women for stimulating them to
  • aspire to become administrators, to develop
    relevant training materials for various
    programmes in print and electronic
  • media, to support gender positive initiatives
    such as gender equity cell and developing
    sensitivity index, etc., to
  • increase and support development of linkages
    among women managers in higher education through
    networking etc.

some of the prevalent problems of women in higher
education in India
  • Fewer in number! More women than ever enroll in
    higher education, yet the number of women in
    senior leadership remains low.
  • Lower in number at higher echelons. as one moves
    up the ladder of power and prestige, the female
    faces disappear face barriers at entry and at all
    stages of the academic ladder
  • Women remain at the outer circle. For example,
    they are in low numbers in the editorial boards.
  • The under-representation of women on boards and
    at the head of higher-education institutions
    reflects their difficulty to influence the
  • Women are in low numbers in the prestigious
    positions, editorial boards and also lesser
    recipients of awards. Even if women are nominated
    for research prizes however unconscious bias and
    men running prize panels seems to be swaying
    award outcomes!
  • While 60 of the countrys university lecturers
    are women, the proportion falls to 40 at the
    level of associate professor and slumps to 20 at
    the professor level.
  • .

  • The number of women in higher education is now
    equal to, and in many South Asian countries
    surpasses, men at undergraduate level. Yet, this
    has not translated into senior appointments and
    leaderships positions within higher education
    institutions themselves. For example, only three
    per cent of vice-chancellors in India
    were women (six of the 13 female vice-chancellors
    are at women-only institutions) in the year 2002.
  • A December 2009 UGC study found that of the
    countrys 431 recognized universities, only 13
    had women vice-chancellors just 3 of the total
    and just under half of these were at women-only
  • Another study later reported that there are
    nine women vice-chancellors against the total
    number of 70, two pro pro vice-chancellors
    against 24, two proctor/rector against 19, 50
    deans against 367, six registrars against 77, 27
    deputy registrars against 298, 67 assistant
    registrars against 504, five controller of
    examination against 57, three finance officers
    against 66, 723 academic council members against
    42167, 31 members of finance committee against
    400 and 31 members of finance boards against 400
    in India

  • Women head the exclusive womens universities of
  • Numerically, the Indian higher education system
    is one of the largest in the world
  • "glass ceiling effects women are still under-
    represented in positions of power, responsibility
    and leadership, despite the dramatic increase in
    their formal employment over the last five
  • Even for women who succeed at university, the
    route to the top in academia is difficult.
  • In general, in India, it is very difficult to get
    gender segregated data.
  • a survey was carried out reveals the same trend
    women accounted for less than 10 vice
    chancellors, registrars. In senior academic
    administrative positions like Deans, Directors,
    Heads of Departments etc., again there were less
    than 10 women.
  • Mainly where there were women, they came in
    because of the rotation system. that the
    percentage of women at all levels of
    decision-making is very small, be it in the
    administrative or academic hierarchy. In fact, as
    the level goes higher, the percentage share of
    women goes down!

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A typical career graph!
Enrolment An increasing trend!
Women researchers Increase but very slow and low!
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Possible reasons?
  • gendered divisions of labour gender bias and
    misrecognition stereotypes of management and
    masculinity and work/life balance challenges.
  • Recently structured interventions have been
    developed to encourage more women to enter
    leadership positions in universities. These are
    based on the assumption that Often women think
    they are good at academics and there is no need
    to get into administrative issues. Many dont
    even think about leadership roles. The UGC
    programme aims to build awareness among women
    about their capacity to lead in higher

Women do not get equal recognition in the field
of science. The following figure illustrates this
Source Indian Academy of Sciences
  • In India the first graduate degrees were granted
    to women in 1883,
  • Dr. Kadambini Basu received her medical degree in
    1886 from Calcutta University.
  • Modern education for women in India began in the
    early years of the nineteenth century and by the
    1880s universities started admitting them.
    Progress was extremely slow particularly until
  • Female literacy crawled from 0.2 per cent in 1881
    to 1.8 per cent in 1921.
  • There was a relatively quicker pace after 1921
    and a substantial advance came about only after
  • Yet, the National Committee on Women's Education
    could register a slow progress of women's
    education in the first decade of independence.
  • Analysis of documents pertaining to womens
    education in India in the period 18501920 has
    shown that the number of female students in
    schools and colleges in India increased by a
    factor of eight between 1881 and 1915. Till 1911,
    nowhere in British India more than one per cent
    of the female population had access to education
    at any level.

  • The development strategy in independent India in
    the 1950s depended heavily on the planning.
    Therefore, development plans were prepared for
    five years and are referred to as the Five-Year
  • The very First Plan (1951-56) of the Government
    gave some attention to women but, as a subject of
  • The shift in the approach from welfare to
    development of women could take place only in
    the Sixth Plan (1980-85). The Sixth Five Year
    Plan for the first time included a chapter on
    "Women and Development".
  • Though the Fifth and the Sixth Five Year Plans
    talked of womens education, these did not stress
    the need for any planned programmes to ensure
    womens participation in science or technology.
  • Gender-blindness is evident in all the other
    subsequent plans and policies related to science.
    While addressing questions of equity in access to
    higher education, no mention is made to
    specifically ensure that women have access to
    science education. It is as if the gender
    component need not be considered while discussing
    ways to strengthen science teaching or improving
  • the report of the committee on the status of
    women, 1974 also provided a broader perspective
    which led to a shift from a welfare approach to
    making women active partners in the development

The policies and programmes related to womens
access to higher education (particularly science
and technology) and their career growth are often
face critique and also held responsible apart
from the constraints discussed above. The
shortfalls are often attributed to the lack of
clarity on the purpose of womens education in
educational planning. For instance, the National
Committee on Womens Education (1956) set up to
scrutinize the special problems of women's
education, on the one hand emphasized the need to
bridge the gap between the education of men and
women and on the other reiterated the traditional
gender roles in society. Similarly, all the
other important commissions such as the
University Education Commission (1948-49)
Secondary Education Commission (1952-53)
National Commission on Women's Education (1958)
National Council for Women's Education
Baktavatsalam Committee (1963) National
Committee on Women's Education (1970) were
hesitant in defining the aims of women's
education, and seem to have been caught in
contradictory value systems while defining the
purpose of female education. The Draft National
Policy on Education admitted that although
education had expanded in all sectors yet
imbalances and inequalities continued to exist.
By the 1970s, however, there was a growing
awareness that gender is an important social
category, which needs to be taken into account in
development planning. The Women's Decade in India
began in 1975 with an official report of the
Committee on the Status of Women in India. The
Report of the Committee on the Status of Women
(1974), better known as the Towards Equality
Report, set clear guidelines on the aims of
female education. In recent years there are
various efforts by government bodies to also
enhance womens access to science careers.
In colonial India science education aimed at
creating local pillars of support for the
colonial government. Those days to think of a
female Indian scientist was virtually impossible.
It is only in the twentieth century that some
women could get some training in physics and
other basic sciences. In the field of medicine
of course a very limited opportunity opened up in
1880s and one finds a few Indian women doctors
like Kadambini Basu, Anandi Bai and Hemvati Sen.
Yet, the number of women in science and medicine
remained low over the years. By 1890 women had
secured admission to medical colleges or schools
in Agra, Bombay, Calcutta and Lahore. During
year 1941-42, the enrolment pattern in Indian
universities for the shows that the total number
of girls enrolled for undergraduate course in
science was 903 in comparison to 11, 217 boys.
Only 83 girls were enrolled for a postgraduate
course in science in contrast to 1,321 boys.
While in medicine their number was 778 against
6,093 boys, in the engineering only 1 was
enrolled with 2,718 boys . The debates,
however, continued over the subjects taught to
women. Even a Committee on Differentiation of
Curricula for Boys and Girls was established in
1964. Science and technology in India could
witness expansion in the post-Independence era.
What has been the situation of women?
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Women participation in extramural RD
projects has increased significantly to 31 in
2009-10 from 13 in 2000-01 due to various
initiatives undertaken by the Government in ST
sector. In absolute terms, 1,324 women Principal
Investigators (PI) during 2009-10 availed
extramural RD support as against 232 in 2000-01.

As on 1st April 2010, there were 27,532 (14.3)
women out of total RD personnel directly engaged
in RD activities
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  • In all, there were 61,050 women employed in RD
    establishments, which was 15.6 of the total
    employed in such establishments.
  • The percentage of women by nature of activity was
    12.7 (19,707) primarily engaged in RD
    activities, 14.9 (15,802) in auxiliary
    activities and 19.6 (25,541) in administrative
  • By level of qualifications they were comprised of
    18.7 Ph.Ds, 39.2 Post Graduates, 31.6
    Graduates and 10.5 Diploma Holders and other
  • By field of science, it was noted that 29.9 were
    from natural sciences, 39.0 were from
    engineering and technology, 14.8 were from
    medicine, 10.3 were from agricultural sciences
    while 6.0 were with background in social

  • Out of every 100 women employed in Central
  • Sector, 29.2 were engaged directly in RD
  • activities, 28.1 were performing auxiliary
  • and 42.6 were providing administrative support.
  • The percentage of women working for
  • activities is quite high as compared to working
  • RD and auxiliary activities.

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