I knew about a session devoted to attracting women to technical fields (and I did mention this in passing in a previous post), but I was unaware that the session is a part of a bigger event that's going to run for an entire day.
Prof. Gupte and her colleagues have lined up a very impressive list of speakers. I was very happy to see quite a few familiar names in the list: Prof. Rohini Godbole (High Energy Physics, IISc), Prof. Chanda J. Jog (Physics and Astronomy, IISc), Prof. Rama Govindarajan (Engineering Mechanics, JNCASR), Prof. Shobhana Narasimhan (Theoretical Sciences, JNCASR), and Prof. Charusita Chakravarty (Chemistry, IITD).
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Interestingly, a part of the day-long event will be devoted to under-representation of women in the IITs among both students and faculty. As it happens, I have expressed my strongly held view that JEE has a bias against women. Very briefly, here's the argument: even though women do as well as (or even better than) men in higher secondary exams, they don't manage to get through JEE in large numbres. This is because JEE's so freaking tough that it requires intensive coaching to which women do not have easy access. For example, the famed Bansal classes in Kota, Rajasthan, has a student body in which women form just 13 percent. Thus, I don't expect any improvement in women's enrollment in the IITs unless JEE's goal is re-oriented towards standardizing across India's school education boards.
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Coming back to WIST, the program looks very promising. It'll be great if someone could blog about these events. If you are attending but don't wish to blog about it, perhaps you could e-mail me with your report, views and/or impressions?