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National Conclave on Women in Science & Technology at IITGN discussed various facets of women in STEM – SERB launched two new POWER grant schemes for women scientists

By   /  October 2, 2022  /  Comments Off on National Conclave on Women in Science & Technology at IITGN discussed various facets of women in STEM – SERB launched two new POWER grant schemes for women scientists

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Gandhinagar: A two-day national conclave on “Women in Science & Technology: Fostering Innovation” co-organised by the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Government of India and the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) concluded on September 30, 2022, with the launch two new SERB-POWER research grants, the POWER Translation Grant and POWER Mobility Grant, for women scientists and researchers. The former will enable women academicians to fast-track the commercialisation of their technologies, and the latter will provide travel support for women scientists, engineers, and technologists to gain international research exposure.

Prof Sandeep Verma, Secretary, SERB, who inaugurated the Conclave on September 29 with Prof Amit Prashant, Officiating Director, IITGN, announced these new verticals under SERB’s POWER (Promoting Opportunities for Women in Exploratory Research) scheme. Speaking on the occasion, Prof Verma said, “I am glad and thankful to all the illustrious speakers and participants to gather and discuss the future of women in STEM and how government programmes can be sharpened further to gain the most out of it. We are glad to partner with IITGN in creating the right footprint to bring together the Indian women researchers community. The interactions and deliberations in this event would provide them exposure to know the real-life icons, who have broken the glass ceiling with their determination. Their shared experiences would motivate the younger female researchers to utilise all the opportunities with their hard work. With four verticals under the SERB’s POWER scheme, including the two newly launched grants, our women researchers would have the right kind of funding to come up with their original ideas and take it forward to the level that it can be benchmarked globally.”

Earlier, Prof Amit Prashant, Officiating Director, IITGN, expressed his delight on IITGN being a partner in organising this Conclave and said, “It is amazing to see the energy that is going around at this Conclave, and I hope this energy multiplies with your shared experiences at the end of the Conclave. These kinds of deliberations help nurture new friendships and lead to better productivity through collaborations. Research and entrepreneurship have been amongst the core focus areas of IIT Gandhinagar, and we will be happy to work with you on projects of mutual interest.”

The inaugural session of the Conclave became distinct with a virtual keynote lecture by Dr Archana Sharma, Senior Scientist and Senior Advisor for Relations with International Organisations, CERN, Geneva, who was also part of the team that Higgs Boson, popularly known as the “God Particle” in 2012. She inspired the participants by sharing her experiences of working at the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN), the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. She talked about the ambitious curiosity-driven physics research carried out at CERN that impacts millions of lives.

In her motivating speech, Dr Sharma said, “There are opportunities for everybody in core and applied science, technology, and theory if we are curious and start asking questions to ourselves about the existence of the Universe. We need to come together to answer these fundamental questions. Studying science, engineering, or physics prepares you with a new set of skills which are very multidisciplinary and can have implications far outside our fields to make a huge social impact. In our country, science and engineering are being facilitated like never before. We should focus on strategic national priorities and engage in international projects in such a way that we are able to make a difference that is meaningful to our country.”

Encouraging young women researchers to read about their role models and how they carved their path by overcoming all the challenges, she said, “Challenges will always be there, but we have to find ways out of it, learn from our failures, and keep moving. Articulate your dreams very well, hook on to what you want to do, and never stop because each one of us can do it.”

The speakers from other technical sessions touched upon diverse topics, including leadership and personal development, the need for women leaders and role models, challenges faced by women in research, academia and industry, the learnings imbibed during their hard-fought journeys, and the necessity of creating a nurturing and empowering ecosystem for women to thrive. Budding and established entrepreneurs shared their stories of successes and failures, whilst industry and grant agency representatives shed light on the opportunities available to advance research and venture into entrepreneurship.

Nearly 200 women scientists, researchers, academicians, industry professionals, entrepreneurs, students, and postdoctoral fellows from across the country participated in the two-day Conclave, and gave insights into their lives as leaders, innovators, communicators, and facilitators.

One of the organisers of this conclave Prof Sivapriya Kirubakaran from IITGN said that creating ecosystems has been well thought of at IITGN and that’s why we provided the day care facility for the children of the women scientists who were travelling with young kids. As far as we know we are the first Institute who provided such infrastructure during a conference so that the scientists can focus on attending the talks and not to worry about their young kids. This initiative was highly appreciated by all participants and many of them have expressed willingness to adopt this practice while organising conferences/events at their institutes.  Along with her Prof Sriram Kanvah, Prof Iti Gupta, and Prof Bhaskar Datta from IITGN led the conference successfully along with great support from staff and students of the campus.

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