At least 30 per cent representation of women in all decision making bodies and inclusion of the LGBT community into conversations related to gender equity are the major focus points of the draft Science, Technology Innovation Policy 2020.
Stressing that equity and inclusion will be a foundational element of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) ecosystem, the policy proposes that E&I should be added as a sub-text to all STI policies and processes (existing and upcoming), designed to create and nurture a vibrant STI ecosystem, in an inclusive manner.
Emphasis under the STIP 2020 has been for women scientists.
A specific highlight will remain upon promoting talented women scientists in leadership positions across research and science administration to create inspiration for women aspiring to pursue science careers, the draft policy states.
"There will be also enhanced representation of women, at least 30 per cent of the total strength, in all decision making bodies including selection and evaluation committees will be mandated," the draft policy states.
The policy states that there will be equal opportunity in academics for women along with candidates from rural remote areas, marginalised communities, differently abled groups, irrespective of their caste/creed/religion/race.
"The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) community to be included into all the conversations related to gender equity. Provisions will be made to safeguard their rights and promote their representation and retention in STI, the draft adds.
The LGBTQ+ community will be entitled for spousal benefits (including retirement benefits) to any partner irrespective of their gender (specified by the STEM employee), it adds.
This is perhaps for the first time that there is any mention of the LGBT community in the science policy.
It also states that differently-abled individuals, including Divyangjans, will be given special attention. Institutions will be mandated to make structural and cultural changes for supporting such excluded groups, in order to pursue and practice STI.
It stresses that E&I in STI is not only to be seen from the point of view of "correcting historical injustices and compensating for earlier deprivations", but also to make real impacts such as to increase the number of FTE (full-time equivalent) researchers and to contribute to socio-economic development
"E&I (Equity and Inclusion) should be added as a sub-text to all STI policies and processes (existing and upcoming), designed to create and nurture a vibrant STI ecosystem, in an inclusive manner. It will be the foundational element of the STI ecosystem." the policy states.
The policy will foster equitable and effective participation, promotion, retention and incentivisation to do science and innovation, which include traditional knowledge and address inequities in STI, stemming out from the country's socio-economic and cultural landscape, the policy states.
The policy also talks about ageism-related issues while minimisation of career breaks are to be addressed for effective retention of trained women into the STI workforce.
In this case, all professional career milestones, such as recruitment, awards and funding schemes, age cut-offs will be implemented considering academic age rather than biological/physical age. This will not be restricted to gender but will include a broader context.
"Dual recruitment policy will be encouraged in all governing bodies, funding agencies, so that couples do not face the challenge of choosing a spouse's career over theirs. The aim is to bring gender neutrality through such interventions, the draft policy states.
Flexibility in work timings and adequate parental leave will be provided to cater to maternity, childbirth, child care and other emergent needs. Childcare benefits should be gender-neutral, the draft says.
"All public-funded research institutions and universities to have a day-care centre for young children of employees and also provision for elderly care, wherever applicable, the draft states.
The DST, along with the Office of Principal Scientific Adviser, started the process of formulating the STIP 2020 last year. The policy was to be out by the year-end, but has been slightly delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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