Dr (Mrs) Malti Goel, CSIR Emeritus Scientist representing Jawaharlal Nehru University participated in a High Level International Roundtable for Women Leadership Role in Science and Technology in Malaysia. The workshop was jointly organized by NAM Institute for the Empowerment of Women (NIEW) and the International Science, Technology and Innovation Centre (ISTIC) for south-south cooperation established under the auspices of UNESCO. The Roundtable had laudable objective to identify strategies of achieving 30 percent female representation at the decision-making level positions in science and technology. A brief report on the Round Table is as follows.

In the Inauguration the Keynote address delivered by Prof. Gretchen Kalonji, Assistant Director-General UNESCO, Paris and Dr. J.Z. Umar-Ajijola, Chair and Chief Executive, The Business People Ltd, Nigeria. The opening remarks were given by Mr. Harjeet Singh, Minister of Women and Community Development, Malaysia. Tan Sri Datuk (Dr.) Rafiah Salim, Director, NIEW and Academician Dato’ Ir. (Dr.) Lee Yee Cheong, Chairman of ISTIC Governing Board also delivered their address.

In the Plenary Session, Emeritus Prof. Tan Sri Dr. Anuwatc Ali, President / Vice Chancellor of Open University Malaysia highlighted issues pertinent to Malaysia and said that there is increased enrolment in Schools & Universities in Malaysia, yet women are under-represented in Academia. There have been many improvements for women since independence of Malaysia in 1957. Women’s empowerment is a key agenda in 10th Malaysia Plan (2011-2015) and New Economic Model. Prof. Dr. Asma Ismail, Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Sciences, Malaysia shared her experiences, career bottlenecks and gender awareness issues to understand Malaysian situation and encourage women’s empowerment & leadership.

Datuk Ir. Rosaline Ganenda, Director, Minconsult Sdn Bhd, Malaysia spoke about Engineering professions. She felt there is lack of data on women engineers and one needs to study issues and prospects for women in detail. Mentors are very important in one’s career but not everybody realizes it. Strategies would require family-friendly policies, change in perception, training programmes, funding, assignments etc. in order to achieve the 30% policy.

The Roundtable was held in four groups to broadly discuss the leadership roles in; (i). Academia and Education (ii) Scientific Research (iii) Technology related Profession and (iv) Commercialization / industry. Several issues were brought out to strengthen academia-industry linkages, scientific research and commercialization. In the education sector need to introduce role models for adaption and of cultural orientation for more visibility was stressed for achieving 30 percent target.

Women in leadership roles continue to be an important topic for discussions among many women organizations, human resource managers and women who have reached the top themselves. Malaysia has a policy in place with regard to increasing women participation at the top level since 2004. The women folk are emancipated to lead and are facing the challenges of leadership. The international workshop participated by delegates from 15 countries stressed on the women’s role at decision making level in science & technology. Need to share experiences from Role models and to develop mechanisms for timely access to information regarding women issues was highlighted.