A report on mini workshop conducted by WCC IIT Mandi on 15th March 2014

WCC IIT Mandi organized its first (Mini) workshop on Saturday, the 15th of March 2014. The program was initiated under the leadership of Dr. Arti Kashyap, Chairperson-WCC, IIT Mandi, with a motive of bringing about sensitization on gender ethics at workplace. The event comprised two sections: first ‘an invited talk by guest speaker’ and second ‘a panel discussion’ spaced by ‘Director’s Speech on the occasion’.

The first section of the program, i.e. an INTERACTIVE TALK, was conducted by guest speaker, Dr. Sharmila Sreekumar, Assoc. Prof., Department of HSS, IIT Bombay. The title of the talk was “CAUTION: WO-MEN AT WORK - - VOLATILE GENDERS INSIDE”. Dr. Sharmila opened her talk by questioning and describing “What is gender?” and “What are gendered?”. The talk/interaction was gradually built up towards the point that in the present day world ‘even’ those things that are inherently gender-neutral- common (non living) objects are gendered owing to the fact that a strong gender disparity exist in the mindset of common people. And this very mindset, many a times, serves as an answer, or more so an alibi, towards questions posed on everything starting from choice of food, job, vehicle, behavior, so on and so forth. The existence and, more prominently, the ‘undoubted and easy acceptance’ of the same has rendered it difficult for accessing by one gender (more so for the so called ‘weaker gender’), a particular kind of “something” (which actually means everything, be it job/education/car/bike/dress) branded the other gender. Further, the level of this difficulty in accessing increase to the point of no accessibility at all when it comes to those who are neither/both gender. The speaker addressed that this will continue until it builds up to such an extent that it finally burst.

Prof. T.A. Gonsalves, Director IIT Mandi, graced the occasion by delivering a speech on the theme of the day. Prof. Gonsalves put forward few humor filled instances to enlighten and then instigate the participants to reflect upon ‘why’ and ‘whether or not’ one category of people are best suited for a particular position. Further, he propounded two contradictory hypothesis ‘Hypothesis 1: Women are no different than men ’ and ‘Hypothesis 2: Women are inherently different from men’ and related the possible outcomes of them. He concluded by emphasizing that whether or not either of the hypotheses is correct, ultimately end result is that “we need more women engineers”. The second section of the program, i.e. Panel Discussion, was chaired Dr. Suman Sigroha(Asst. Prof. SHSS IIT Mandi). Other panelists were Mr. J.R. Sharma(FO IIT Mandi), Dr. Cara Murray( Asst. Prof. HSS, University of Houston), Ms. Jyoti(4th Sem CSE), Ms. G. Harika(4th Sem ME), Mr. Prateek G(4th Sem ME) and Mr Devang C(4th Sem CSE). The theme of discussion was “WHY MEN SHOULD CARE”. Each panelist presented their individual views, concordant with views of one or more of the panel members and contradictory to other members. All in all, there was a pool of mixed ideas, but all panel members unanimously pointed out, agreed to and urged for “THE NEED OF CHANGING THE MINDSET” prevailing as of now.

Faculties, Staffs and students alike participated actively in the event. This enthusiasm hints that every section welcome and also do feel the need to talk about sensitive issues like gender ethics within and outside an organisation. The huge number of questions from student community was indeed impressive and subtly conveyed that the young minds are open for discussions with an honest frankness. All in all, the event went off very well, and was well appreciated by one and all. The success of this first event by WCC invites more thought provoking sessions in upcoming times.