Women empowerment issues – Jobs,Reservation and education

Glass ceiling needs to be broken to unlock women potential


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Government schemes

Mains level : Gender issues

glass ceilingContext

  • According to available UNESCO data on some selected countries, India is at the lowest position, having only 14% female researchers working in STEM areas highlighting the presence of glass ceiling.

What is glass ceiling?

  • A glass ceiling is a metaphor used to represent an invisible barrier that prevents women from rising beyond a certain level in a hierarchy. The metaphor was first coined by feminists in reference to barriers in the careers of high-achieving women.

What Is a Gender-equal Society?

  • A society in which both women and men shall be given equal opportunities to participate voluntarily in activities in all fields as equal partners, and be able to enjoy political, economic, social and cultural benefits equally as well as to share responsibilities.

How glass ceiling limits women progress?

  • Few opportunities: Due to deep-rooted biases, it is difficult for women to access many experiences and networks that are easily accessible to men.
  • Social barriers and gender norms: Personal barriers include notions of compromise and sacrifice that are ingrained in women. This feeds into how women present themselves. External barriers and cultural cues reinforce how men and women “ought” to behave.
  • Gender Inequity: Stereotypes related to gender brilliance or gender-based intrinsic aptitude generate inequity which remains unnoticed.
  • Low self-confidence: Our socio-cultural constructs reflect absolute patriarchy causing even women to be sceptical about their abilities, to accept the roles set for them in the household.

glass ceiling The gender gap in employment

  • Around the world, finding a job is much tougher for women than it is for men. When women are employed, they tend to work in low-quality jobs in vulnerable conditions, and there is little improvement forecast in the near future.

glass ceilingWhat are STEM areas?

  • STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and refers to any subjects that fall under these four disciplines.

What are the drivers at policy and programme level to promote women in STEM in India?

  • Breaking myths and stereotypes around STEM is crucial to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5 (gender equality) which includes women’s use of enabling technology, including ICT as a means of achieving economic empowerment and greater agency and also many other STEM-related SDGs.

glass ceilingGovernment initiatives

  • GATI: It will be called GATI (Gender Advancement through Transforming Institutions). The DST is incorporating a system of grading institutes depending on the enrolment of women and the advancement of the careers of women faculty and scientists.
  • CURIE: For infrastructure in women’s universities
  • Vigyan Jyoti Scheme: Encourage girls in high school to pursue STEM
  • The Athena Swan Charter: is a framework which is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality within higher education (HE) and research.
  • KIRAN: (Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through nurturing) Scheme to encourage women Scientists
  • Indo-US Fellowship: for Women in STEMM (STEM and Medicine)


  • Gender equality or parity will happen only when there is a change in mind-set and institutions consider women as assets rather than simply a diversity rectification issue. Policies that help women advance in science and society globally are needed. The world cannot afford to miss out on what women have to offer.

Mains question

Q. What do you understand by the term glass ceiling? Discuss how it has hampered the women participation in high end research STEM jobs by citing some government initiatives to address this.

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