On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2022 observed on March 8, EducationWorld interviewed Kiran Pai, co-founder & pro-chancellor of the mint-new Vidyashilp University, Bengaluru. The university aims at establishing an advanced learning ecosystem to develop domain expertise with an multidisciplinary approach to research, innovation and problem solving to build a progressive yet sustainable society.
Excerpts from the interview.
What inspired you to become a pro-chancellor?
It has more to do with education and how young minds can be moulded, and less to do with any designation. My journey with education has been with children as young as three years old to teenagers at the cusp of growing up. These formative years play a very important role in the lives of the children and through Vidyashilp, we have always strived to enable young leaders to take charge of their life and decisions. However, as they go out in the world, there are very few institutions in the higher education space that offer the same environment. That’s how the idea of Vidyashilp University was born.
As a woman, what are the challenges you faced while growing up/the liberties you enjoyed as a woman?
I feel my story is one of support – a very supportive family, a strong circle of friends who have always encouraged me to achieve everything I wanted to do. I dreamed big and I was encouraged to go bigger. That’s the reason why I have always felt I can achieve anything I want in life.
What inspired you to become the person you are today?
I have a strong and dependable support circle that includes my family, colleagues, and friends. They inspire me every day and I firmly believe that there’s nothing unachievable because of them.
How do you balance your personal and professional life?
Essentially, it comes down to time management and pacing oneself. Alongside managing educational institutions, I am also a mum of two. There will be days when I have to accelerate the pace of my work and there are days when I don’t need to, and that’s okay. I pace myself according to the need of the hour and enjoy the process along the way.
Any women-specific issues in education that you would like to highlight?
It’s a well-known fact that the teaching profession is dominated by females but it is a different story when it comes to leadership positions in the education field. Specifically in the higher education sector. Leadership means balancing and women are the best at balancing life’s various needs. Women are natural leaders and they need the right opportunities. But this perception and belief needs to grow. When a woman candidate’s name comes for selection, the recruiters should look at the qualification, quality, and professional track record. They shouldn’t look from the viewpoint of gender alone.
Additionally, in my experience, women are massively underrepresented in the STEM field and I hope to see many more women leaders in this space in the near future.
What according to you is feminism? As a woman, where do you think we are lagging behind? And how can we address them?
Feminism supports the notion that all humans are equal, no matter what their gender is. The narrative about feminism needs to move from a “women’s movement” to a “all human movement” in that, we actively reject artefacts of dominance and subordination in order to bring all humans on equal footing.
What are your future projects in the pipeline?
We are in the inaugural year of Vidyashilp University and we are putting our hearts and souls to create an institution where students find themselves, understand who they are, what they want to be, and do all of this with confidence in a safe space.
Your message for women on Women’s Day?
I think the story today needs to change. Women shouldn’t have to overcome challenges to reach where they are. Overcoming hurdles should not be normalised. We need to create cultures of support, having people believe in them, and having women believe in themselves. That should be the norm.Edutainment