back to article Women are 40% of Indian STEM grads and in just 14% of tech jobs. Not good enough, says VP Naidu

India's Vice-President Shri Venkaiah Naidu has called on his nation to sort out gender imbalance in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and to ensure that students can study in languages other than English. In a speech delivered yesterday at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in the city …

  1. Raj

    It’s better to just report news instead of trying to opine on constitutional politics you don’t understand. The Vice President of India is an elected position and the person heads the upper House of Parliament. The VP has a very important role in determining how well legislations get through both Houses of Parliament.

    The upper house in India looks nothing like the British one and instead resembles the US Senate or German Bundesrat, in that it reflects the states’ presence in a federal republican setup vs a constitutional unitary monarchy where the upper house are a bunch of life peers and appointees.

  2. deadlockvictim Silver badge


    I wonder what percentage of the 26% used their degrees and skills to get the hell out of India and find a job in a country whose society respects them.

    India, from I have heard and read about, is not at all a woman-friendly place. And while many First World Countries aren't especially women-friendly either, India could do a lot, lot better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Emigration

      Indeed; an Indian colleague at the UK office of a UK-based multinational commented to me that there are no good engineers in India, because they all get moved to the UK / US offices of multinationals as soon as they are identified.

  3. cornetman Silver badge

    > We must look at the cause for this dismal under-representation of women in science and technology jobs and take steps to rectify the situation expeditiously.

    I think that's rather putting the cart before the horse surely.

    Let's see *why* there are fewer women than men in IT in India before we start to assume that it is a problem that we have to fix.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Err isn't WHY they are not in STEM, and the CAUSE of them not being in STEM pretty much the same thing?

      1. cornetman Silver badge

        > Err isn't WHY they are not in STEM, and the CAUSE of them not being in STEM pretty much the same thing?

        Eh? I don't understand the point of your question.

        There is an implicit suggestion that women being in fewer numbers in IT than men is a social evil that we must fix. As I said, if you need to investigate why there is a difference first (as was stated in the article), then we should not make judgements that it is necessarily a social evil that we have to fix.

        There could be any number of reasons that women study IT, then decide to not pursue a career in it. There certainly could be reasons that are related to sexism, but there could be other more mundane ones, like childbirth/child care, the realisation that for many it is not for them.

        My point is that there is a pervasive assumption in society that difference NECESSARILY leads from something bad that we must fix. There may well be a component of that, but it is certainly not the only factor.

        1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          "women being in fewer numbers in IT than men is a social evil"

          I wouldn't call it a social evil, but there are loads of reasons why it's a good idea to have a diverse workforce, and have more than just a vast majority of straight white guys in technology.

          For example: realizing when features could be abused by stalker exes, when features only work with people of a certain color, etc.

          I know a guy who wanted to build a glass-floor second-floor balcony for their house overlooking their nice view of the SF bay... which is cool except anyone standing underneath it, walking from the yard into the home, could look up and see up the skirts of any women standing up there. I like using this unintended consequence of his design as an example that you need more than just guys on your engineering team.


  4. Nick Ryan Silver badge

    Sigh... I wish that people would understand the impact of time based events compared to overall data.

    40% of STEM graduates may be female, but how does one year of graduates compare to the overall pool of people employed in STEM?

    Using a very simplistic application of the numbers, with the following crude assumptions:

    * All STEM graduates from each year will be employed in STEM occupations (will never happen)

    * STEM careers last about 40 years

    * Each year the incoming STEM graduates replace the outgoing (retiring) workers currently working in STEM

    * The field of STEM is neither growing or shrinking by way of employed numbers

    This works out that every year 2.5% of the working STEM population are replaced by the incoming graduates. Even if we assume that this is the older 2.5% exiting the industry and are 100% male, the impact of 40% of 2.5% every year is neither high nor fast.

    This gross over simplification omits other very important considerations. Firstly, that India is not very supportive of working females and secondly that there is a huge drop out of working employment for females due to child birth and subsequent child care and this specifically affects the 20-40 year old age groupings. Follow this by not being able to be part of an industry for 10-20 years and rejoining fast paced industries such as STEM is very hard and there is an inevitable drop off.

    Oh, and 14% is still better than the UK.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      It is a very overly simplified and poor example.

      You have missed out that India is rapidly expanding its STEM industries, so if anything, the difference should be rapidly diminishing.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        I made it very clear that it is a very crudely and oversimplified example, it was more to demonstrate that applying time based events to a standing pool and expecting immediate changes does not work even mathematically.

        STEM in India is expanding, but it's also not a small starting industry either. Change in the representation of females in STEM industries is a generational thing and is slow and the other societal impacts have to be taken into account too. It's positive that it is changing and improving though, even in the UK, but expecting 40% of graduates to equate to 40% of workers in anything less than 20-30 years is silly and that's before societal impacts come into play. it doesn't mean that we shouldn't push for more equality though.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Oh, and 14% is still better than the UK.

      Source? The figure I've seen for the UK is between 16% (WISE) and 19% ( Too low, certainly, but not worse than 14%.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge


        The report does not include science and maths but these are rather small compared to overall engineering and the extent of cross over in these fields will mean that many working in science and/or maths have been picked up in this analysis. Women in Science or Maths are poorly represented although this situation is encouragely improving in these two fields. Women in engineering and technology is low but slowly improving.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          The report does not include science and maths

          So, STEM without the S and M(!)? Not directly comparable, and it still says that 14% of the UK engineering industry is female.

          It's also interesting that of the degree-qualified people working in engineering 52% are women, against 27% men, perhaps suggesting that women are well represented at the design & management levels, but less so at the oily rag end.

          1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

            If you can define when an individual stops being a scientist and is an engineer, then please do, add in Maths as well then it becomes even messier. The extremes are easy but there is a very grey area in between therefore this report is quite inclusive. The number of S and M(!) left out of the report is very low.

            perhaps suggesting that women are well represented at the design & management levels, but less so at the oily rag end.
            That's a positive interpretation of this, unfortunately it's been reported that women have to be more academically qualified than their male colleagues to be taken seriously and this is backed up as the comparison is largely the same across all levels. It's also regional, and interesting that some of the regions that are often traditionally considered as engineering regions perform worse than those that are not. It does vary by age as well and in most regions of the country the ratio of female to male in younger people is better. It's a very slow work in progress.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It doesn't include science, maths or computing, I am almost certain.

          1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

            It does includes computing and the categories cover a lot of crossover roles for science and maths.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      This is pretty easy to resolve. If you know the graduation statistics for a given year then you simply need to look at the employment statistics for people of the appropriate age to have graduated in that year. Yes there is some fuzz because people graduate at different ages, but I'm sure competent statisticians are up to dealing with that, and I'm sure the Indian government has competent statisticians.

  5. NibblyPig

    Cultural, perhaps

    Can't speak for India itself but on my course 15 years ago there were only three women. One was Indian and she was smart and did well, graduated computer science, dated people in England, then immediately upon graduating got married to someone back in India and had three children and never worked again.

    The way it happened kind of felt like it was a cultural expectation, especially since she was dating people in the UK but it all ended in an instant. I don't know if that was just a one off but it isn't the first time I've seen that kind of behaviour.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Cultural, perhaps

      My course at Uni (quite a bit longer than 15 yr ago) had a pair of Indian women who quite openly said that they were staying in education for as long as possible because as soon as they finished a marriage would be arranged with someone better educated.

      From their pov having a technical degree meant being married off to a doctor or lawyer and was the best life outcome they could envision.

      TBH, It's only the modern western culture that has trouble with parents finding the best prospective partner for their children.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cultural, perhaps

      I believe this isn't just a problem with the IT industry, a lot of female doctors from such cultures, qualify get married and never then practice.

  6. Raj

    It’s not clear where the VPs stats come from, but:

    Women in Tech: India Leads the Way

    “Women now make up 34% of the IT workforce in India, with the majority of these workers under the age of 30. Indeed, the youth of the Indian IT labor force has significantly powered its rapid growth, and the country is now almost at 50:50 gender parity rate in STEM graduates. The next challenge is retaining gender diversity through into middle management and leadership roles. Given Indian government policies, NASSCOM initiatives and some of the inspiring work undertaken by the IT service companies themselves, it will be interesting to see if they can replicate this success at graduate level to maintain gender parity“

    This is much closer to what I see. In university level, women are commonplace in STEM, particularly in ‘clean engineering’ fields - electronics, computers etc vs mechanical or mining. 30-40% sounds about right, not 14% , but the number does dip when you go out of IT because there are fewer women grads in heavy engineering fields.

    There’s no cultural opposition to women studying STEM, quite the reverse - it is very highly sought after, and humanities grads are seen universally as the ones who didn’t do well in school.

    The government enterprises are pretty popular haunts for women since the benefits enable them to balance work and family life better. There are women in engineering leadership roles such as

    Tessy Thomas : head of the Agni 4 and 5 ICBM design team at DRDO

    Ritu Karidhal: deputy director of the Mars Orbiter Mission program, which was the first time a country succeeded in getting to Mars on its first attempt.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >Women now make up 34% of the IT workforce in India, with the majority of these workers under the age of 30

      Would be interested in how many of those are coders vs support, or call centers being classified as IT to meet some govt target

      1. Raj

        There isn't any 'government target' - there's no reservation in the private sector.

        Indian enrollment in IT related engineering streams (>45%, on par with what I've seen in university) vastly outstrips UK (<20%) and US (just over 20%). Even heavy engineering/manufacturing/construction has almost 30% women enrolled vs 20% in UK and under 20% in US. In India, becoming an engineer is a coveted educational goal, for women as much as for men.

        If you want to make an argument about composition, then find the data for it.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. WhereAmI?

    In my job as tech support I deal with a lot of overseas tech personnel, of whom many (probably the majority) are in India. It's a flat fact that when I hear a female voice on the other end of the line, I know that this is probably going to be an easy call because in the majority of cases, they have already done due diligence. Not so their male colleagues who have usually ignored the problem right up to the deadline, then expect me to diagnose it and fix it there and then.

    'Please start webex now'.

    Not going to happen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh dear, don't get me started on the WebEx meetings... why do PMs always want to have a WebEx conference to try to solve something a simple email could get finished in no time?

  8. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Exactly. The important numbers are the gender share of this year's STEM graduates with this year's gender share of STEM job applications and this year's gender share of STEM job placements.

    Eg, for 30 years the NHS has had about 50/50 male/female recruitment, but it's only in the last few years that the workforce as a whole has got close to 50/50, because it takes 40+ years for the 90%/10% proportion who entered the profession 40 years ago to die off or retire.

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