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Low Women Ratio In Higher Technical Colleges Like IITs & NITs

Dec 26, 2013 18:14 IST

    For every 8 to 14 men at IIT, NIT and other top state engineering colleges in India, there is mere one woman who gets selected. This low ratio of male to female (MFs) is now being researched upon as a subject of a study, conducted across institutes of India and America, presently.

    The 2013 research study coined as 'Women in Engineering: A Comparative Study of Barriers Across Nations', is being done by ‘Aspiring Minds’ - a venture of IIT and MIT alumni who are involved in human capital assessment.

    It compares the imbalanced ratio of Indian women studying in engineering colleges with the female engineers pursuing from MIT, Stanford and Berkeley of US. The female ratio in US engineering institutes does not reflect such a wide unevenness as the number there is relatively higher with about 1 - 1.4 to 4 men.


    This research study is comparing the applicant-to-admit ratios in US’s MIT and the Indian IITs.

    It brought out that at the application stage, the ratio of male to female were almost similar with showing 1 woman for every 2.27 male for MIT and at IITs, that means there are over two men for every female applicant.

    The selection rate for men in MIT and IIT were also seen to be coming similar with 7.2% for MIT and 6.4% for IIT. (Six/seven or just a little above out of every 100 male applicants)

    On the contrary, the women selection rate showed a drastic difference in both countries’ institute.  At MIT selection was just above 15 women for every 100 applicants (15.5%) whereas at IITs just 1.9%, meaning that less than two women out of every 100 that had applied.

     It resulted, Male Female Ratio (MFR) from ranging 14:1 to 10:1 in IITs and at NITs and other top state run colleges, it showed MFR 8:1.

    The US has taken several measures to improve female participation in science, technology, math and engineering higher education programmes.

    Over the last 40 years in US, the percentage of engineering studies pursuers rose from less than 1% in the 1970s to 19% at present. In addition US have taken several measures in order to perk up involvement of female in science, technology, math and engineering through higher education programmes.

    With that the GOI and IITs too have also following some measures to support more women to join the technological field by introducing fee waiver schemes and allotting grace points in entrance exams.

    IIT entrance exam witness growth of Women applicants which is from 29,291 in 2005 to approximately 1.5 lakh in 2012, yet the clearing rate remains low, standing between 1.07% and 1.90%.

    To find the answer of this low entrant of women in top-tier institutes of India, the study surveyed 14,000 engineers and graduates countrywide about their opted stream in Class XI and their percentage of Class X.

    One of the major reasons for imbalanced gender ratio in Higher technical institutions in India as per this study is that the Indian institutes' depends way too much on scores of test,  to select eligible students.

    In contrast, MIT picks about three-quarters of high scoring students band, while rejecting 85% applicants of it. It instead focus of offering admission seats to students possessing other significant strengths.

    While in India the IITs do not regard any candidate as eligible who is not in the top 5% of the Joint Entrance Exam.

    Hence it is universal fact that standardized test format is not suited to women and realizing it US colleges have opted for a broad-based process of selection.

    The other barriers for unequal gender ratio in higher education and low women rate in technical programmes as per the study are inadequate academic preparation. The other pre-college blockade identified was self perception of ability, where women with the same mathematical ability as men lean on evaluating themselves as lower.

    Interestingly, once the women and men get admission in the colleges, Indian female engineering students perform much better than their American counterparts.

    While US institutes observes a steady drop-out of women stating that out of 30% enrolled female students in engineering programs, only 18.5% received degrees. While India has a less dropout rate of merely 5% for both men and women.

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