Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)
IIT-B sets up chair for women faculty
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.