In India out of 100 students, the 29% of girls and boys drop out of school without finishing the elementary cycle and 20million of children between the ages of 3 to 6 are not attending preschools. The government of India is trying to decrease those numbers with the Right to Education Act, indeed from 2006 with 13.46 million children dropping out of school in 2014 the children diminished to 6 million, unfortunately, many of them that still are out of school came from marginalised communities, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and religious minority groups.

Educational poverty is spread all over the country in India, quality education is difficult to achieve and according to UNICEF many children that are attending school are not learning at grade-appropriate levels, moreover, poor-quality teaching and the use of corporal punishment and discrimination will create the perfect conditions for lower school attendance. Many children have to drop out of school because of early marriage, or because they have to work to help the family, additionally numerous children suffer violence and abuses. A great number of children cannot go to school because of lack of infrastructure, appropriate learning materials and qualified early childhood educators, the latter even when are recruited do not show up, indeed, teacher absenteeism is of fundamental concern.


Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields are and will be the discipline of the job of the future and right now we are excluding half of the world, encouraging girls to undertake STEM career is fundamental.  


India, according to the World Economic Forum, will have 10-12 million new graduates across the country every year, being the biggest workforce on the planet, unfortunately, only 25% of girls will become an active part of the workforce, this caused by the culture and the society, where girls have to take care of domestic chores or get married at a young age and drop school, indeed women only contribute 18% to India’s GDP, one of the lowest of such rates in the world. Girls often outperform men at the high school level, moreover  40% of Indians who graduate in STEM disciplines are women but they constitute only 14% of the total 28,000 scientists and engineers in research and development institutions in India, it is important that society, the institution and the government commit to break the stereotypes, empower women, encourage young girls to not drop out of school and pursue their career building their own identity and investing in girls, training them in the STEM field. It is essential that girls and women have equal access to STEM education and careers this will fill the gender gap and will bring another perspective in the STEM world. 

In the world, only 28% of women are scientists, engineers and technologists and in the close future 80% of the jobs will require STEM education, this disparity is creating an advantage for a man that are the majority employed in this sector, that nowadays is innovative and valued, and even if today more women are entering the STEM workforce still are significantly under-represented. The gender disparity is frightening since STEM careers are considered jobs of the future, many girls are discouraged to enter this job environment for different factors: they might consider not to choose educational pathways that lead to occupations where few women are employed or to occupations perceived to be difficult, women working in the STEM are paid less and will face difficulties in their career progression so gender stereotypes are driving girl away from pursuing careers in science-related fields. Education is the key to fill the gender gap, it is fundamental to inspire the girls in the classroom, provide teacher encouragement and textbooks that are free form gender stereotypes, so girls will enter the STEM field without fear of prejudice. 

By Flaminia De Felicis

The author is a recent graduate with a master’s degree in Human Rights and Multi-level governance at the University of Padua. She is interested in children’s rights and children’s right to education committed to empowering the point of view of young.

One thought on “Women studying STEM field in India: A General Overview”
  1. Analisi accurata e scrupolosa che mette a nudo la difficoltà di accesso all’educazione da parte dei bambini e delle donne indiane. Interessanti le riflessioni sulla importanza di accedere ai corsi di studio delle discipline scientifico-tecnologiche da parte delle donne indiane al fine di ridurre la disparità di genere e favorire l’emancipazione femminile che sicuramente contribuirebbero alla crescita del PIL della nazione indiana.

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