Thursday, May 31, 2007

Women in the IITs: MSM catches on

... Back in 1972, of the 342 seats for the BTech course, IIT-Bombay had merely six girl students. In the intervening decades, the proportion remained more or less the same. In fact, even 30 years later, it had not more than 13 girls studying on its Powai campus. The change has come about in the last five years.

That's from Hemali Chhapia's report in the ToI [Hat tip: Confused]. She tries to put a very positive spin on this year's results for women. Where she errs, I think, is in conflating numbers and percentages. There have been years in which women's presence in certain IITs went upto as high as 8 percent [but this percentage never went into double digits], but their absolute numbers were small because their intake itself was small.

Chhapia also informs us that there are two women in the top 100 ranks this year. She has some more info on the topper among women: Ankita Sharma from Anushakti Nagar (BARC's residential complex):

... The 18-year-old had appeared for the JEE last year too, but was placed way down in all-India rankings at 2,366.

A student of BARC Junior College, Ankita then packed her bags and joined a residential coaching class for a year. "My focus and concentration has paid off now," Ankita said.

This is what she told the Indian Express:

“I stayed in Kota (Rajasthan) for eight months with my mother to study at a coaching school. I returned just a month before JEE,” she said.

... and CNN-IBN:

I think more girls should take this exam. In my class, there were 80 boys and five girls who were preparing for it. There are very few girls who took the exam. Otherwise the ranks for girls would have been better.

CNN-IBN's Shreya Dhoundial also remarks on the disconnect between IIT results and the results of board exams (such as the CBSE):

It’s a trend that is completely opposite to the CBSE board results where girls have been out performing the boys for the last 10 years.

But she also makes the mistake of sticking the mike in front of a moron, and compounds it by polluting the airwaves with his views:

“There maybe some part of the brain is not working for the female as it is working for the male. But I am sure the main reason is that they are not doing the application base studies,” says Consultant, Narayana Institute, Kamleshwar Dwivedi.

* * *

On a slightly different note, ToI reports that almost 18 percent of the JEE takers were from the Other Backward Castes. It didn't, however, give the number of OBC candidates who got through JEE.


  1. barbarindian said...

    She tries to put a very positive spin on this year's results for women. Where she errs, I think, is in conflating numbers and percentages.

    Really? 6 (or even 13) out of 342 is the same as 587 out of 7209? Chidambaram was jumping up and down when inflation dropped a few basis points. This is more than doubling of percentage intake.

  2. Anonymous said...

    dude,why is that almost all of your blogs are focussed on picking at IITs.I wonder there should be some reason behind it? well the most probable one could be that you couldnt clear JEE ..or far got into an IIT and the kicked you out for being thick headed :-)

  3. Madhat said...

    ...the mistake of sticking the mike in front of a moron

    you are only human, I suppose... :)

  4. Anonymous said...

    How much can inflation vary? And how much can the %age of women in IITs vary?

    Point taken though - %age of women in IITs keep increasing slowly.

    Another point to be kept in mind - What stats and numbers show us is the number of students taking the JEE. Few years back, when I was taking my board exams, many of my friends appeared in the JEE, without much preparation, just because their parents told them too.
    The point is, the absolute numbers hide the fact as to how many of these boys and girls really prepared well for the exam (and so, are the only "true" contenders for the seat). With the current trends in society being such that boys recieve much more encouragement than girls, for "cutting edge" career options, I would suspect that precentage of women JEE takers who prepared seriously enough would be significantly lower than the percentage for men. To me, that is the key reason for under-representation of women in IITs. As you go down the hierarchy, with the "standards" of the institutes going down, and they arent perceived to lead to a "cutting edge" career, the %age of women show a steady increase. The competition for seats in those institutes is much less, and wouldnt require a huge amount of preparation or encouragement, thereby bringing about a parity between men and women, with neither of them putting much hard work for a seat in this instis.

    Sure gender bias exists, and a huge amount of it, but that exists in the society, rather than the JEE. JEE simply reflects it. To talk of gender bias in case of JEE would be to demean the performance of those guys who burn the midnight oil day in and day out to get a seat.

    JEE isnt perfect, no doubt. But seems to me that the most despicable aspect about JEE is the coaching classes rather than a gender bias in the exam itself. It would be great if you could change the Indian (or may be even global?) mindset and encourage women. But JEE clearly is not the vehicle for doing that.

  5. Anonymous said...

    CBSE/State Board exams are a safer bet than JEE. If you slog, you are guaranteed good marks. Preparation style, strategy for the two exams is very different.

    If you don't have confidence and can't make it to the 8 month intensive coaching for JEE, you focus your energy, resources in preparing for CBSE/HSc and the CET entrance test.

    Maybe women are risk averse?

  6. barbarindian said...

    How much can inflation vary?

    Good question. Think Japan a decade ago to pre-Nazi Germany.

  7. Anonymous said...

    I don't know the reason but always women perform better in verbose exams and worse in MCQ based exams. This happens not only in JEE but in every other MCQ based entrance exams, including TNPCEE(can't happen this year, of course),CET etc.

  8. ggop said...

    You have a point. But MCQ based tests can be hacked with a lot of practice. You just get better at it like calculus problems.