Women & STEM in India
In the upcoming two decades, India may have one of the youngest and largest working-age population in the world. But despite many positive shifts, education for some girls in India remains a challenge and is still below the world average. And when we look to the take-up of STEM careers when education isn’t a barrier, the Economic Forum Report show that in India only 14.3% of researchers in science are women.
So, what can we do?
With the help of great partners and an enthusiastic g4g community in India, we are working together to see how greenlight for girls can do more to make a difference for girls to have access to higher education and be encouraged to continue their pursuit towards STEM opportunities.
An incredible STEM Festival with Covestro
As we say with everything we do, it always starts with one person, one group or even one company that says – let’s start!
Our global partner, Covestro, is that company. Over the past few years, we’ve been working together to do more and more in India. Due to some amazing individuals (Ajay Durrani, Managing Director at Covestro India, Chintan Joshi, Divya Gaitonde, Gilroy Correia, Allan R, Rachel Owen, and the whole Covestro-g4g team) and others, they have been the ones to say each year, “What if we did more? What if we reached more girls?”
For 2018, they proposed to collaborate on a STEM festival in India with the Covestro team, the ChandraMohan Foundation, the Nehru Science Centre (Ministry of Culture, Gvnmt of India) and g4g – and we loved the idea! After the team’s incredible dedicated work, we are all proud to have reached more than 3000 girls in 6 cities, delivered full days of STEM workshops in 5 languages (Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam, Gujarati and English), over 3 months! These special girls, coming from such a diverse background, had the wonderful chance to be inspired by incredible guest speakers and role models and to learn first-hand about science from the Covestro team.
What, where, when?
Between October 8-13 we went to Mumbai and met with more than 1200 girls curious and eager to discover all the fun in science.
Between November 7-9 it was in Calicut that we inspired more than 370 girls to pursue STEM careers.
Our third event was in Noida, between November 21-24 and we invited more than 430 girls to join us for a full free day of science discoveries!
In Dharampur, between November 28 and 29, we met with 335 girls curious to learn all the exciting secrets of STEM.
Then, we hosted an event in Goa on December 4 and 5, welcoming more than 400 girls.
Finally, on December 14 and 15 we went to Nagpur to meet more than 400 girls.
All the events started with a motivational session from popular women scientists who shared their experiences of being in this field. This was followed by hands-on fun experiments with 30 girls in one workshop and 3 workshops throughout the day.
The experiments were about making a simple circuit, creating a polymer putty and extracting Human DNA. In the MakeItGlow workshop, students were taught to make a simple circuit in using copper tape, lithium battery and a LED. The Polymer Putty workshop involved mixing two compounds or polymers that react with each other to form a completely new polymer. In the Human DNA workshop, the students studied the structure and composition of the human DNA and got an opportunity to extract their own DNA.
Our events with Covestro
MUMBAI, Oct. 8-13, 2018
Mumbai was our first step for this festival. And what a step… With more than 1200 girls and 10 truly inspiring guest speakers, it was an exciting couple of days for the girls, who seemed genuinely curious and inquisitive about what they were being taught in the workshops.
The highlights of the Mumbai events…
Dr. Pallavi Deshmukh sharing about her journey in the field of science, explaining how she never gave up on her determination. Quoting her, “We have to think, be curious and above all courageous.”
Ms. Harpreet, who shared her journey of becoming the first woman pilot with Air India, and who showed the girls how science involves a dash of creativity and is incomplete without it!
Dr. Swati Patankar, who proved herself as a true mentor to the young minds when she said, “Don’t give up, be comfortable with your failures.”
Dr. Surekha Zingde who illustrated her speech with amazing stories of prominent Indian women achievers in the field of STEM, starting from Dr. Anandibai Joshee (the first woman doctor to practise western medicine in the 1800s) to present day achievers.
On Oct. 11, during the United Nations International Day of the Girl Child, which theme for this year was “With Her: A Skilled GirlForce”, when all our female volunteers had an amazing mentoring session with the girls.
The fact that the sessions were displayed in both Hindi and Marathi, so everyone could feel involved and concerned.
When Dr. Alpa Bharati encouraged the girls follow their passion, not feel guilty about doing soand “Push your limits, take risks and never be afraid to fail.”
When Mrs. Manjula Yadav, representing the Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai, encouraged the girls to think out-of-the-box and pursue science from an innovative perspective
When everyone, girls and volunteers, wrote down their aspirations on a piece of paper and discussed it at the end of the day
When our talented girls improvised a dance performance at the end of the last day, taught a few dance steps to the audience and we had the entire auditorium grooving!
CALICUT, Nov. 7-9, 2018
Calicut, also known as Kozhikode, is a coastal city in the southern Indian state of Kerala. This was our second stop for our #STEM4GirlsFestival2018, where we engaged 378 young girl students of different economic backgrounds from 13 schools over two days. Interacting with students from Kerala, India’s first state to achieve 100% literacy was quite a humbling experience.
The highlights of the Calicut event…
The energy and enthusiasm of all these girls, that our first guest speaker of the day couldn’t help but notice and applaud!
When Mr. Manash Bagchi from the Regional Science Centre invited the girls, teachers and volunteers to the opening of the Genomics Hall for the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, which was since inaugurated by the Nobel laureate Harold Varmus on 11th November 2018.
When Dr. T.R Resmi, Scientist & Head in charge, Isotope Hydrology Division(CWRDM) had these inspirational words : “Think where you want to reach, the path will then form automatically” .
When our workshops were taught both in English and Malayalam
NOIDA, Nov. 21-24, 2018
Noida is the abbreviation for the ‘New Okhla Industrial Development Authority’, which is a systematically planned satellite city of Delhi. For our event, more than 400 girls, coming mostly from slum areas, braved the plummeting morning temperatures to join us at the Covestro factory.
The highlight of the Noida event…
When Sunita Durrani shared her personal story with the girls. Coming from a small town in Jammu & Kashmir she recently made it to joining the World Health Organisation as a health care professional, working in marginalized communities to help eradicate Polio. The room, full of girls coming from less privileged areas, resonated with shared emotion that “girls can do anything once they've made up their mind”.
When our volunteers asked the girls “Who do you want to be?’, and the girls answered, both fearful and hopeful : Doctors, Engineers, Police women…
DHARAMPUR, Nov. 28-29, 2018
For this event, girls were coming from a radius of 50 km where the event was held, particularly from several tribal hamlets. In Dharampur, which is a more rural area than the last three areas we had our events in, girls frequently help their families in the farms in addition to going to school (that are usually very far away from their homes). Education is considered important, but helping their family and growing food is vital.
The highlight of the Dharampur event…
When Dr. Kusumben Rawal, the Gynecologist who started the first maternity hospital in Dharampur, spoke about women empowerment, a topic very close to her heart.
When Dhruti Mehta, explained to the girls that “knowledge is the real weapon”
When Aparna Kadikar, Architect and Social Worker, talked about her journey of being the only girl in her class at the architecture college to setting up Kedi, an alternative education school nearby.
When Swati Bedekar talked about menstruation and explained the physiology behind it and thus, dispelling the myths around it.
GOA, Dec. 4-5, 2018
Our two days in Goa, known for its beautiful beaches with swaying palm fronds, intriguing vernacular architecture and coastal cuisine, were memorable where we reached out to 405 girls from 20 schools.
The highlight of the Goa event…
When Dr. Neha Phadke, shared her journey from being the daughter of a farmer to a scientist
When Dr. Siby Kurien, Principal Scientist, CSIR - National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) opened doors to the girls by presenting to them a subject they didn’t know anything about : Oceanography.
When KR Anupama concluded the day with a very heart touching speech, telling the girls they need to be themselves, be assertive, listen and act on constructive criticism… while talking about Hermione Granger (which struck a chord with all the students!). As a professor in the Department of Electrical & Electronics Engineering, BITS Pilani KK Birla Goa Campus, she often encounters a gender skew in favour of boys in any class.
NAGPUR, Dec. 14-15, 2018
For the last event of our Science Festival with Covestro, the STEM4GirlsFestival2018, we stopped in Nagpur, in the geographical center of India. The delight and the smile on the 357 faces after they succeeded in the experiment, reminded us why we planned this festival.
The highlight of the Nagpur event…
When Dr. Jyotsna Meshram introduced students to the basics of Green Chemistry and encouraged the girls to accept challenges as stepping stones to the future.
When Mrs. Kanchan Gadkari, social worker, paid tribute to all the great women who made India’s history - warriors, academics, politics.
And… that’s a wrap!
What a festival… Watch the video recap below and have a look at our photos album here!
Thank you so very much to the schools and speakers who joined us on this journey…:
His excellency Dr. Juergen Morhard, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Mumbai
Ajay Durrani, MD, Covestro India
Shivaprasad Khened, Director, Nehru Science Center,
Melissa Rancourt, Founder, greenlight for girls
Devanshi Dwivedi, Trustee, Chandra Mohan Foundation.
Speakers - MUMBAI
Pallavi Deshmukh, Senior Development Chemist-Adhesives at Covestro
Harpreet A de Singh, President, IWPA
Dr. Swati Patankar, Professor at IIT Bombay in the Biosciences and Bioengineering department
Dr. Surekha Zingde, President of Indian Women Scientists’ Association and former Dy. Director of Cancer Research Institute, Tata Memorial Centre
Dr. Alpa Bharati, Cardiac imaging consultant at Wadia Hospital
Manjula Yadav, Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai
Namita Devidayal, journalist and author
Dr. Sunali Khanna, Nair Hospital Dental College
Speakers – CALICUT
Manash Bagchi, Curator and Project Coordinator, Regional Science Centre
Dr. Anitha A B, Executive Director & Principal Scientist, Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM).
Dr. T.R Resmi, Scientist & Head in charge, Isotope Hydrology Division(CWRDM)
Dr. E. Jayashree, the Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR)
Speakers – NOIDA
Dr. Pallavi Deshmukh
Sunita Durrani, World Health Organisation
Speakers – DHARAMPUR
Dr. Kusumben Rawal, the Gynaecologist, who started the first maternity hospital in Dharampur
Aparna Kadikar, Architect and Social Worker
Swati Bedekar. She talked about menstruation and explained the physiology behind it and thus, dispelling the myths around it.
Speakers – GOA
Ajay Durrani, Covestro
Dr. Neha Phadke, Process Development Chemist Covestro
Dr. Pallavi Deshmukh
Prof. Savita Kerkar, Head of Department, Biotechnology, Goa University
Dr. Vrinda Borker, the Principal of Dhempe College of Arts & Science, Goa
Dr. Siby Kurien, Principal Scientist, CSIR - National Institute of Oceanography (NIO)
KR Anupama, Professor in the Department of Electrical & Electronics Engineering, BITS Pilani KK Birla Goa Campus
Speakers – NAGPUR
Dr. Jyotsna Meshram, Professor - Department of Chemistry, Rashtasant Tokadoji Maharaj, Nagpur University
Kanchan Gadkari, social worker
MUMBAI = Valiram Bherumal Melwani Model High School (Grant Road), Lokmanya Tilak English High School (Mulund), Udayachal High School (Vikhroli) and H.A. & L.S. Girls High School (Mira Road), Lokmanya Tilak English High School, Mulund; Shiv Shikshan Sanstha's English Medium School, Sion; Euro School, Airoli; Chikitsak Samuh Shirolkar High School, Girgaon and Sharadashram Girls Technical School, Dadar, Bai RFD Panday Girls High School, Children’s Academy Ashok Nagar, S.M. Shetty High School & Junior College, Smt. Ramdevi Sobhraj Bajaj Arya Vidya Mandir, Taiyebiyah Girls High School, Arya Vidya Mandir and SEAL Foundation, Karmveer Bhaurao Patil Vidyalaya, Guru Nanak High School, Nabar Guruji Vidyalaya, Balmohan Vidyamandir and ICL High School, Saraswati Vidyalaya Semi English School, Saraswati Vidyalaya Marathi medium School, Gopinath Patil Jr. College, Bhimadri Vidyalaya, Saraswati Madhyamik Vidyalaya and Janata High School, NES National Public School, Ram Ratna International School, The Cathedral and John Connon School, ICL MON-AMI School, Maulana Azad High School and Muljibhai Mehta International School.
CALICUT = Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Chevayur, Government Girls HSS, Balussery, Presentation HSS, Chevayur, Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Perumthiruthy, Calicut Girls HSS .Amrita Vidyalayam, Government Ganapath Vocational HSS, Feroke, Government HSS, Azchavattom, St. Michels Girls High School, Providence Girls HSS, BEM Girls HSS, GVHSS Nadakkavu and St.Vincent's Colony Girls High School.
NOIDA = Father Agnel School, Vedic Kanya Inter College Dadri, M.C Gopichand, DAV Girls, Navjeevan Intercollege, Nehru Smarak Inter College, KCS Girls Inter College, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Inter College, Noida Kanya Inter College and Chaudhary Keshram Inter College.
DHARAMPUR = Shri Swaminarayan school, Ramwadi, Shri Majirajba Kanya Shala, S.M.S.M High School, Kharvel Prathamik Shala, B.R. International School, Bilpudi Prathamik Shala, Aasura Prathamik Shala, Vidyamandir Sherimaad, Ranpada Prathamik Shala, Vijay Rajmahal Road Prathamik Shala, Madhyamik Shala, Kharvel, Kedi School, Bamti Prathamik Shala, Bamti Ghogharbati Prathamik Shala, Radhaba Shamlal Patel Shala and Navinagri Prathamik Shala.
GOA = Bal Bharti Vidya Mandir, Our Lady of the Rosary High School, The Rosary School, St. Theresa's High School, Santa Cruz High School, Mary Immaculate Girls High School,Government High School, A.J De Almeida High School, Mushtifund High School, St. Joseph Convent High School, Lourdes Convent High School, Shree Ram Vidya Mandir, G.S. Amonkar Vidya Mandir, Sacred Heart High School, Holy Cross High School, Mahila & Nutan English High School, Shree Ganesh High School, Bhatikar Model High School, Bethany Convent High School and Fatima Convent High School.
NAGPUR: New Apostolic English High School, J.N. Tata Parsi Girls School, Smt. Dadibai Deshmukh Hindu Mulinchi Shala, St. Ursula Girls High School, Saraswati Tiwari Hindi Girls High School, Shri. Rajendra High School, Yashoda High School, Siddheshwar Vidyalaya, MSB Education School, Bhide Girls School, Nagar Parishad School Kalmeshwar, Surendra Garh NMC School, Jeevan Vikas Vanita, Lokanchi Shala, Jindal Vidya Mandir Kalmeshwar JSW and Pt. Bachharaj Vyas Vidyalaya.