New Delhi: Engineering as a stream has been a popular option for Indian students after senior secondary education. No surprises then that almost 11 lakh applied for the JEE Main exam in 2017. Out of these 72% applicants were boys. The glaring difference is also reflected in the enrollment ratio of boys and girls in engineering and technology programs. While the enrollment ratio of girls in higher education has steadily increased over the years, what is the reason for the gaping difference in number of boys and girls who end up in engineering and technology courses?
Going through the statistics of higher education enrollment available on the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), one can find there has been a difference of over 40% in the enrollment percentage of boys and girls in B.Tech. and BE programmes.
AISHE Survey: Less Than 30% Women In Engineering Programmes
The All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE), 2014-15, revealed that out of the 21.99 Lakh students enrolled in B.Tech. 73% were male, thus limiting the percentage of females to less than 30%. The number of students in BE (Bachelor of Engineering) programme was 19.68 Lakh, with 71.5% male students.
The All India Survey on Higher Education, 2015-16, revealed little to no change in the percentage of female enrollments in B.Tech. and BE programmes. B.Tech. saw 21.8 lakh enrolments with 73.9% male students. Bachelor of Engineering (BE) had 20 lakh student enrolment with 71.5% male enrolments which keeps female enrolments to less than 30% in each case.
More Women In Science Than In Engineering
The situation is bit better in case of B.Sc. degrees where the enrolment of females is lesser than male students but there is not a wide gap between their enrolments. The 2014-15 report says that out of the 40.37 lakh studnets enrolled in the B.Sc. programme, 47.6% were females. The percentage of female enrolment in 2015-16 was 48%.
It is clear from these statistics that while women do not shy away from going into science streams, there is clearly a dearth of women going into engineering and technology. What could be the reason?
Traditional Gender Roles One of The Reasons
While one could pin point one of the reasons as easy availability of coaching centres and tutorial facilities for men in comparison to women. Girls have the additional hurdle of safety issues to counter. Surveys have also revealed that the common perception that technology and engineering fields are for boys also keeps more girls from engaging in these programmes.
'Udaan' And Increased Seats For Women In Engineering Colleges
The government as well as engineering and technology institutes have introduced several programs and initiatives to increase the number of girls in engineering fields. The 'Udaan' scholarship is offered by CBSE to meritorious girl students and provides coaching to girls who wish to pursue engineering degrees. The number of seats reserved for girl students at IITs has been increased to balance the gender gap at IITs. The number of seats at NITs are also to be increased.
One of the female engineers we talked to revealed that while there were a substantial number of women in her engineering class, the scenario changed drastically when it came to working after completing the degree.
Another engineer working with a startup in Bangalore revealed that she was the only female engineer in a team of 20 engineers. Not to mention the stigma which is attached with marriage and pregnancy and the popular opinion among private sector employers that marriage and pregnancy or kids reduce a woman's productivity.
If India wishes to increase the number of its female engineers, it not only needs to improve the educational opportunities but also needs to combat the prevalent perceptions about gender roles.
Click here for more Education News