Women in waste water industry

Shirisha Bandla is new icon of the youth now. She is the second astronaut of Indian origin after Kalpana Chawla to be the member of flying crew in space. That should give us a thought. How many women are there waste water treatment field in India? Are they truly following their passion of contribution in technical field?

Waste water industry is more sidelined field than in compared with other engineering fields. The educational institutes like environmental engineering and biotechnology engineering are low rated as well. Woman workforce is mostly distributed in field of lab technicians, managerial level, director’s responsibilities and consultants. Challenges in the education particularly are enthusiasts of the mathematics, biology and chemistry are tending to choose medical and engineering fields leaving natural knowledge of environment only on the paper.

Waste water industry is the industry which caters last part of any industry. It actually does the job of treating and making the water harmless enough to let out in the soil or any water body in the environment. For this process it requires study of chemical and technical parameters of the water. Though this job is truly engineering but hard to call an attractive one. Hence there is mere presence of women in the field of waste water industry.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 7.5% of Water & wastewater treatment plant & system operators were women in 2015.  In case of India we don’t even have the data of the women personnel available in the field.

Designing, Erection, Commissioning and maintenance of waste water treatment is a skilful job. It requires training and advanced technical knowledge of the industry. Activated Sludge Process is the most basic and traditional technology. It recirculates the sludge from outlet of the secondary clarifier to biological process tank. Apart from that to improve the efficiency of the wastewater treatment plant membrane bioreactor(MBR), Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR), Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Blanket (UASB), Anaerobic Filter etc are used. The skills of commissioning of above technology demands continuous monitoring of the biological reactions of microbes and achievement of parameters according to the government regulations.

Workplace conditions is the another challenge in the field. Where the waste water is ignored part then the work conditions can be imagined. There are improvements required at the end of the day. Though the waste water treatment plants are well designed there is less presence of the workforce and mere representation at the ground level creating gender biased industry. But now more women are approaching into the field of water and waste and waste water industry. More waste water industries are approaching to have more presence of women in the field.

Environmental science is the need of the production and process industry. Awareness about waste water treatment is very important. Waste water treatment is a critical process. It can create a lot of nuance if unattended. If water is let out in soak pit, river, ocean, lakes and ponds etc. it can pollute the water and harm aquatic life. This plays crucial part in reducing the pollution and in turn the climate change.  Certainly waste water is a by-product of our success but we need to manage it to balance the nature.

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