Republic Day 2024: India takes pride in the achievements of its “rocket girls” as they shine at the Republic Day Parade, showcasing the tableau ‘Chandrayaan-3 – A Saga in the Indian Space History.’ From breaking gender barriers to contributing to landmark space missions, these women scientists are making India a proud space-faring nation.
Women at the Helm of India’s Space Endeavors
The Republic Day Parade tableau highlights the achievements of women scientists from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), featuring the Shiv-Shakti Point on the moon, the Vikram Lander, Pragyan rover, and the presence of 220 women scientists. Nari Shakti takes center stage, emphasizing gender equality in India’s space programs.
Gaganyaan Mission: A Gateway for Women Astronauts
ISRO Chairman Shri S Somanath asserts the possibility of having Indian women as astronauts in future Gaganyaan missions. While the first flight may feature an all-male crew, opportunities await women test pilots from the Indian Air Force (IAF). ISRO welcomes women to join the Gaganyaan astronaut corps and contribute as mission specialists.
Diversity in ISRO’s Space Showcase
The ISRO tableau not only showcases its space missions but also emphasizes diversity with the Aditya L1 mission led by a woman. The representation includes the ‘Bahubali rocket,’ the Launch Vehicle Mark 3, the Bhartiya Antrisha Station, and a glimpse of the ambitious Gaganyaan program. Ancient astronomers Aryabhata and Varahamihir find their place in the float.
Breaking Stereotypes at ISRO
Contrary to stereotypes, Ms Nigar Shaji dismisses the notion of a gender bias at ISRO. She emphasizes that at ISRO, talent is the only determining factor, and gender plays no role in career progression. ‘Rocket girls’ like Ms M Vanitha, Ms Thenmozhi Selvi K, and Ms Kalpana K have led successful missions, highlighting gender-neutral opportunities at ISRO.
Women’s Presence at ISRO
Statistics reveal that approximately 20% of the ISRO workforce comprises women. Efforts are underway to increase this number, reflecting a higher percentage than the national average for other science departments. The government is actively promoting gender balance in the workforce through women-centric schemes.
Women in Indian Scientific Research
India’s science minister, Dr Jitendra Singh, acknowledges the need for greater gender balance in the scientific workforce. Despite progress, the overall participation of women in scientific research, including engineering and technology, remains below the ideal 50%. Initiatives by the government aim to address this imbalance and promote women’s involvement in research and development.
CSIR’s Leadership and Women-Led Initiatives
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is currently led by Dr N Kalaiselvi, marking a historic milestone. The CSIR showcases achievements like the aroma mission, emphasizing women-led initiatives such as lavender cultivation as a pioneering agri-startup.
Nari Shakti: Shaping the Future of Indian Space Exploration
Indian ‘sheroes’ are breaking barriers, reaching new orbits, and contributing to peace initiatives. The accomplishments of women in India’s space programs reflect the power of Nari Shakti in shaping the future of space exploration and scientific research.
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