The debate between science and humanities is a rather long one that has perplexed young students across the country to choose their defining academic streams.
STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths, is a broad term for the curriculum that is directed towards educating the students mainly focusing on the four subjects.
India has several premiere institutes dedicated to STEM education, inclusive of the 23 IITs. The Indian Institute of Technology is among the most competitive institutions that one can get into.
IIT Madras has recently started an initiative to honour the women working in the STEM fields – which is highly known as a field for its massive gender disparity.
The Controversial Post On Twitter
Under the “Woman In STEM” program, IIT Madras has been acknowledging the works of women scholars across the discipline.
One post that rather caused a scuffle on Twitter was regarding the acknowledgement of a professor of Anthropology as a ‘woman in STEM’.
Concerned people did not take the post lightly and started critiquing the institution who had apparently misrepresented the achievement.
— Bharath (@brakoo) April 15, 2021
IIT Madras however also stated that “#IITMWomenInSTEM series recognizes the contribution of women associated with the institute from across disciplines offered by IIT Madras and is not just restricted to STEM subjects. They all contribute to the academic environment of #IITMadras and are being recognized and cherished for the same.”
The explanation being perfectly accurate, it insinuates that the field has become very interdisciplinary. Although Twitterati was majorly concerned about the misrepresentation that was not justified for both the fields.
According to them, it was equal to the fact that women’s work in technical fields was not getting recognized.
The Debate Between Science And Humanities
There is a larger narrative in the country that looks down upon the field of humanities. “Engineering or Medicine?” is like the age-old question that students are expected to choose from.
Humanities and arts subjects on the other hand are considered only for those students who “do not score well”.
This disparity is largely due to the major difference in the money that the careers in the fields bring. However, it must be noted that if STEM subjects provide a “strong foundation” to several academic aspects, arts and humanities imbibe innovation, critical thinking and analysis skills in the students.
Both the disciplines go very much hand-in-hand and without the other, none would have been able to develop as much today.
The same sentiment was being shared by IITM in its post which necessitates the students to also take up courses from the humanities department to provide an all-rounded education.
While the debates between the two disciplines have somewhat come to an understanding by being highly interdisciplinary, it remains a fact that women have been highly underrepresented in the STEM fields across the world.
According to a study done by Dr. Nilam Kaushik from IIM Bangalore, only 30% of the world’s scientists are women. Women are discouraged to pursue the field mainly because of stereotypes and cultural norms.
In such a scenario, initiatives like #WomenInSTEM should also and mainly honour women working in technical fields rather than feeding stereotypes of women working better in arts and humanities fields.
Although the post did not essentially imply that, ironically in this case people have felt that there should have been a distinction between the two disciplines to honour each individually.
While the debate is extremely complicated, the initiative taken by the institution must definitely be lauded as it represents these women as equals, which a larger part of the world fails to notice.
Today we have a greater number of female academicians, be it from STEM fields or otherwise, but the same is not essentially represented properly.
There needs to be a change in the way we think and that will only happen once we start considering all academic fields as equals. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know by commenting below.
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