Career development workshop for the advancement of women scientists held at NIAS

Anjali Vaidya

A five-day workshop was held between 8 – 11 September 2014 at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore to address the global challenges that women scientists face in negotiating the workplace and advancing their careers. Entitled International Training Programme on Leadership and Career Development for Women Scientists and Technologists,” the workshop was co-organized by the Department of Science and Technology (India), the Indo‑U.S. Science and Technology Forum, and was led by COACh (United States),

Thirty women scientists gathered at NIAS for the duration of the workshop, hailing primarily from research institutes and companies in South India. The vibrant group, full of discussion and questions for the workshop speakers and organizers, ranged in work experience from a single year to thirty years, studying disciplines from plant ecology to applied electronics to astrophysics. Sessions included career acceleration, life/​work balance, negotiation strategies, proposal writing, mentorship, leadership, peer review and networking. These sessions used interactive strategies developed internationally by United States-based COACh faculty, combined with India-specific knowledge brought in by female scholars based in Bangalore. A similar workshop, with 70 participants, was held in Delhi in the first week of September.

The Department of Science and Technology and the Indo‑U.S. Science and Technology Forum plan to expand career development workshops for Indian women using COACh strategies as a seed, with past workshop participants acting as future trainers. In the concluding session, V.S. Ramamoorthy, ex-Secretary DST and currently at NIAS, said that the most productive time of an academic’s early career, between 25 – 35 years of age, was also the period when women faced great personal pressures, which sometimes lead to their exit from academia. He hoped that initiatives like this workshop would help women face challenges during this critical phase.