(Re)framing empowerment: Media portrayals of Indian women in STEM education

Title(Re)framing empowerment: Media portrayals of Indian women in STEM education
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Dutta, D.
Affiliation (1st Author)National University of Singapore
Section or WGGender and Communication Section
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeGENT4a
Slot Code (Keyword)GENT4a
Time of Session16:00-17:30
Session Title Advocacy/Improving Women’s Position in Media/ Society
Submission ID7144

Empowerment of women in India remains a sought after and a contested terrain, as elucidated by the recent protests against gender discrimination and safety in the Indian subcontinent. The notion of empowerment spills over to the workforce as well. Research suggests that empowerment and equity in the workforce translates to progress and economic rehabilitation for a developing country and that education potentially offers an apt blueprint to achieve empowerment goals (Nagashetty & Fatima, 2009). Yet, detailed examination of the societal assumptions and routine discourses (as portrayed in the media) that encourage or discourage particular members of Indian society, such as girls and women, from embracing science and technology education has not been conducted, nor have the consequences of such discourses been examined critically. This paper aims to understand the education scenario in India and the messages that are communicated to the girls with respect to their opportunities in education, especially in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education as reflected in public discourse. The paper specifically examines the role of the Indian media in the connections and disconnections that are made in handling the crisis of gender inequality in STEM education. The paper will explore the paradoxical role of message production and reification of the empowerment rhetoric versus the geopolitical ideologies of gender bias of the Indian media that offer conflicting messages on women’s empowerment. In doing so, the paper argues that Indian media need to take on a more responsible role in its understanding, promoting and facilitating STEM education in India to women. Stepping out of its convenient boundaries of patriarchal and patrifocal gender ideologies that mirror Indian society, the media need to highlight the micro emancipation ideologies that call upon empowerment in acquisitioning STEM education. Reference Nagashetty, M., & Fatima, N. (2009). Student’s enrollment in professional education: A study of Karnataka. Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences, 1, 748-759.

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