Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Women in IITs

Out of the 650 students in the undergraduate departments of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (IIT-Kgp), only 32 are women.

An effort to trace why there are so few women in premier tech schools found that women constitute only one-eighth of the total number of JEE (entrance test) applicants.

To encourage more girls to apply, the IITs have now slashed the application fee for women by half. So, while men have to pay Rs 600, women pay just Rs 300.

The report (from three months ago) claims that this year, the number of women candidates went up to some 60,000 (from the usual 25,000 or so) this year. The results of this year's JEE should be out soon (does anyone know when?); we will see how well they have done.

In other news, girls in Karnataka have done quite a bit better than the boys in its SSLC (Class 10) exams, whose results were announced last Saturday. Pass percentage is 71% for girls, and 66% for boys. More importantly, this statistic is even more impressive:

While the ranking system has been abolished, all students who have secured 85 per cent marks and above, will have their marks-cards stamped “distinction”. As many as 15,954 candidates have secured distinction. Here too girls outscored boys with 9,236 girls obtaining distinction marks as against 6,718 boys.


  1. Anonymous said...

    The low enrollment of women at the IITs is surprising. As a rule the % of women passing high school is higher than that of men; and the scores distribution for women is as a rule skewed more towards the top than it is for men. There are quite a few non-IIT engg colleges (VJTI for instance) where more women than men are enrolled in some classes. How about making coaching more affordable and easily available and moving away from the current JEE format?

  2. Anonymous said...

    This is sad, that the solution these guys come up with is reducing the fees for women. And it would be even sadder if the increase in the number of women taking the exam is due to this.

  3. Anonymous said...

    Maybe, as a fellow blogger suggested, the HRD Minister should launch a "Mahila Mandal" programme, targeted at reserving 48.39% of seats in the IITs to women.

  4. Abi said...

    Shiva, Vishnu, Vijay: Thanks for your comments.

    I would argue that JEE has evolved to select a certain type of student (heck, I got a rank, though I didn't go to an IIT; so, I cannot be accused of saying all this in a pejorative way). It's just that most of them (more than 90 percent of them) happen to be male.

    Instead of a brutal exam that requires advanced learning (acquired through expensive coaching and study materials), JEE should turn itself into a standardizing exam (and of course, it should also become a standardized -- a la SAT) with questions (with some 25% of them being hard) that are covered in all the education boards in the country. This, by itself, will help IITs attract more women. But, do the IITs think this is a problem? I am not sure ...

    Vijay: I too read that 'Mahila Mandal' post. Quite funny. I wonder where you got that 48.39% from ... Continuing from where Anantha Narayan left off, I believe that the 48.39% quota should have a sub-quota for women from OBC, SC and ST.

  5. couchtrekker said...

    How can one expect the lowering of the application fee to impact the number of successful women candidates?
    The women who have applied because of the lowering of the application fee by Rs. 300, are not the ones who would have taken special coaching for IIT or have the extra studies required, as they would not have been able to afford them. It is a fact that a majority of students need special coaching for cracking the JEE, as the standard is definitely higher than state board XII exams. And the poor girls who were intent on cracking the JEE and had prepared for it, by any means that they could find, would have in any case applied for the JEE, regardless of the application fee.
    So, the only effect I see is that the increased volume of women applicants will offset the revenue loss from lowering application fees, while leaving the success rates of women (as a % of entering class size) unchanged.