The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has launched the ‘Women Leading IITM’ (WLI) programme to boost women leadership in science and technology. Under this programme, grants will be issued each year to accelerate women technologists’ careers. The inaugural grants are set to be issued on March 8 to mark the International Women’s Day celebrations at IIT-Madras.
The IIT is planning to raise the $2 million endowment by the end of 2021, which will provide annual grants to support programs taken by women students, faculty and researchers. In the first year alone, the Endowment Fund aims to grant Rs 70 lakhs for various initiatives. This sum will be raised through alumni and CSR grants.
The goals of ‘Women Leading IITM’ programme will include, increasing the percentage of women faculty in assistant professorships to 20 per cent from the current 15 per cent, generating 30 per cent of all faculty applications from women candidates, grantees expected to graduate to leadership roles within IITM.
Elaborating on the vision behind the ‘Women Leading IITM’ (WLI) initiative, Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT-Madras, said, “IIT Madras has made good progress in the last several years in increasing the percentage of women in the student population, from the UG level all the way up to the doctoral programme. The participation of women in the non-teaching staff is also very good, and we are making every effort to close the gap in the case of faculty. The WLI programme will be a powerful catalyst to enable us to reduce the hurdles faced by women students, faculty and staff at IIT Madras to achieve their full potential.”
In 2020, women constitute 18 per cent of the students in the Undergraduate class at IIT-Madras, up from 8 per cent in 2017. The Supernumerary admissions for women students in IITs have uniformly been lauded as a success. As many as 30 per cent of PhD students are women up from 22.5 per cent in 2017. Around 30 programs to encourage women in STEM has been implemented in IIT-Madras, the institute informed.
The major objectives of this programme include ‘Accelerate Recruit – Secure Develop -Nurture – Support’ programme’, the IIT said in a statement.
IIT-M aims to conduct outreach programmes to visit other institutes to get the word out and recruit women post-doc, visiting women faculty, as well as full-time women faculty. Any other proposal to increase woman faculty recruitment will also be considered, special focus will be on departments with lower women faculty numbers. It will also run programmes that provide physical and emotional safety for women among other initiatives.