News & events


Gender Bias in Public Understanding of Science

21 July 2011
15:00 - 16:30

Date :

21 July 2011

Time :

15:00 – 16:30


Gauhar Raza, Head, Department of Science Communication through Multi-Media, National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources, and Dr KS Krishnan Marg, New Delhi

The Public Understanding of Science (PUS) is an area of scientific investigation that has grown over a period of the past 30 years. It embodies a hub constituted by three major concerns: representative indicators, survey methodology and conceptual models of analysis. Around these concerns we find innumerable links leading to traditional areas of knowledge such as physics, chemistry, maths, health science, education, etc. During the short period of its historical trajectory, scholars have also directed efforts to explore new vistas using the PUS methodologies. PUS for investigating crime, debates on the environment, the understanding of river water utilisation, the scientific understanding of ‘bottled water’, attitudes towards nano-, bio- or information-technologies are but few examples of ever expanding linkages.  


Gender bias cuts across all disciplines that have been probed under the broad umbrella of PUS. It has been observed repeatedly that women score low on the PUS scale in almost all areas of scientific knowledge compared to men. However, there is one area, i.e. health, where the universal trend loses its applicability. In the area of health, irrespective of the nature of indicators or geographical locale of the respondents, women consistently score more than men. 

A ‘cultural distance model’ was developed in India to measure the distance between traditional areas of knowledge and formally educated sciences. When applied on Indian and Chinese databases, the cultural model confirms the two diametrically opposite trends of gender bias. However it also leads us to the conclusion that various cultures put similar filters in place that inhibit scientific knowledge from reaching women as a group in all areas baring health.  

Gauhar Raza is an electrical engineer by qualification, a scientist by designation, a communicator who initiated research on Public Understanding of Science (PUS) in India. His areas of expertise include Science Communication and Cultural Studies. He has almost 30 years of experience in conceiving and formulating national and cross-country PUS research projects, mobilisation of funds, execution and supervision of projects and the dissemination of research results through books, papers popular articles and other media channels. He has contributed internationally to the development of PUS and has been involved with PUS research in South Africa for the past 10 years 

Presently Serving as: Head, Department of Science Communication through Multi-Media at the National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR), CSIR, INDIA, and Honorary Director, Jahangirabad Media Institute, Barabanki district, UP, India.


The presentation from the seminar is now available 


The audio presentation from the seminar is available for download




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