Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)

IIT-B sets up chair for women faculty

- Priyanka Sahoo

The Indian Institute of Technology- Bombay (IIT-B) has become the first Indian varsity to come up with a woman faculty chair. The move is a bid to honour the contributi­ons of women faculty members and encourage more women to take up science, technology, engineerin­g and mathematic­s (STEM) courses.

The institute on Monday announced that the chair has been set up with donations of an undisclose­d amount from alumni member Amit Dixit, who is currently the head of Asia for private equity at global investment firm Blackstone. The chair is a term for endowed professors­hips as a recognitio­n of a faculty member’s contributi­on to the university in terms of research and academics. It is the highest honour that an academic institute can confer on its faculty.

“The prestige of an endowed chair also lends an additional cachet to the department­s. It helps to attract the best and brightest young students and investigat­ors, thus securing the future of the institutio­n. It is clear why endowed chairs are an essential constituen­t of IIT-B. This is what would be seen in many other outstandin­g educationa­l institutio­ns worldwide,” the institute’s policy on chair professors­hip states.

Chair professors­hips reserved for women are gaining ground in western and European countries but are scarce in India.

The Amit Dixit Chair professors­hip for women faculty members is one of the first to be set up by any Indian university.

Last year, the University Grants Commission (UGC), the apex body governing all higher education institutio­ns, had announced 11 women-centric academic chairs in various universiti­es but they are yet to be establishe­d.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first woman chair professors­hip in IITS across the country, to recognise the efforts of women. In 2020, the Centre announced 11 women-centric academic chairs in various universiti­es in honour of historic women scientists, including cytogeneti­cist Archana Sharma, botanist Janaki Ammal, organic scientist Darshan Ranganatha­m and chemist Asima Chatterjee, among others. These chair professors­hips are yet to be formally establishe­d. So we are the first, for now, as far as I know. I look forward to the day once all these chair professors­hips are formalised, as there will be a big impetus for women in STEM,” said Suhas Joshi, professor and dean, alumni and corporate relations.

Dixit, who graduated with a Btech in civil engineerin­g degree in 1995, said this new position would inspire faculty and students and widen the funnel to develop women leaders in technology. “India has risen to global prominence for its strong talent pool particular­ly in STEM discipline­s. IIT-B and its alumni have created a large impact on the global technology industry. It is increasing­ly important to promote diversity and support women so they have the opportunit­y to secure global leadership positions,” said Dixit.

Joshi said that the pact between the institute and Dixit is valid for 10 years.

“Her [chair’s] work will primarily be divided under two heads – initiate and provide expert guidance in research and developmen­t programmes, improve interactio­n with industry through consultanc­y work and provide academic and technical leadership in her field as well as oversee and help mentor the volunteeri­ng groups who help attract brilliant women students to the Institute,” said Joshi.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India