Sun, 07 Jun, 2020

Positive trend of gender parity

Increasing number of women are now enrolling in higher education institutions than ever before. This is a trend that is remarkably positive and most welcome

04th July 2019, 04:17 Hrs

Dr Manasvi M. Kamat

In an interesting development in this academic year at the Indian Institute of Management, Sambalpur (IIM-S), 2019-20 more than 51 percent of the students who took admission are girls, the highest among all IIMs in the country. A trend that is remarkably positive and most welcome! Incidentally the 4th batch (2018-2020) of the IIM-S had no girl student at all.

Adding to the cheer is the data churned out by India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) and released by the HRD Ministry. Total enrolment in higher education has been estimated to be 36.6 million with 19.2 million boys and 17.4 million girls with girls constituting majority of the total enrolment as per AISHE 2017-18. The reports from 2011-12 to 2017-18 denote that increasing women are now enrolling themselves in higher education institutions (HEI’s) than ever before. The percentage of enrolled women rose from 44.6 percent in 2011-12 to 47.6 percent in 2017-18. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for total enrolment with respect to males in HEI’s is at 2.9 percent while for females it is at 5 percent levels.

The data indicates increasing positivism that the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) between genders is normalising given that more women are turning towards HEI’s with an intention to improve their livelihoods. The GER in the 18-23 years age group has steadily risen from 20.8 in 2011-12 to 25.8 in 2017-18. Out of which, the male GER increased from 22.1 to 26.3 with mere 19 percent change and in contrast the GER for females rose from 20 to 25.4, registering a quantum jump of 30 percent.

The above news and data averages for last six years bring a ray of optimism about bridging the gender gaps in higher education. Hardly two months back, the President of India had lamented about the relatively low enrolment of girls in HEI’s, and particularly in the eastern institutions while addressing National Rankings of HEI’s. The President referred to this not only as a concern, but also a paradox since girl students tend to do well in examinations and outscore the boys.

It is also heartening to note that the women are progressing faster than men across the geography with respects to enrolment in higher education system. In North India for instance, the average female GER jumped 5.91 points from 2011-12 to 2017-18 whereas the male GER moved by 4.03 points. In South India, the female GER jumped 6.67 points whereas the male GER moved 4.49 points. AISHE data also shows that for the first time in 2017-18, enrolment for the MBBS program in the country had more women (50.3 percent), than men.

In a developing and diverse country like India, raising the presence of women in education, employment and the political process must be accorded priority. As more women are turning towards HEI’s, it may be safe to add that it usually corresponds with better opportunities for sustenance and developments. Alleviating gender inequalities in education can also bring out more qualified female professionals in the decision-making roles. Higher access to higher education is also correlated with more women delaying childbirth, having fewer children and thereby contributing significantly towards to the levelling off of population growth.

The latest survey shows that the gender gap in Indian HEI’s reduced by over nine lakh over last few years and the Gender Parity Index increased to 0.97 in the recent year from 0.86 in 2010-11 with girls outnumbering men in at disciplines including that of Arts, Nursing, Science and Commerce. To be precise, the latest Survey of the HRD Ministry indicates that in the Master’s of Arts, there are over 160 women for every 100 men; in Nursing around 384 women for every 100 men while the PG classes of Science and Commerce, women have handsomely outnumbered men with 167 and 158 respectively per 100 males.

However, in UG and technical and professional courses like B.Tech, Law and Management, the enrolment is still skewed in favour of males and the gender gap is significant. Similarly Diploma programs have a skewed distribution with 68 males and merely 32 females per 100 students. Ph.D level has 57.4 and 42.6percents while the Integrated-level programs have 58.4 percent male and 41.6 percent female students. This trend in India matches what is seen in universities elsewhere; that participation by female students in most disciplines tends to decrease as academic programs get more professional and intense in nature.

It is heartening to state that the State of Goa has done exceedingly well in easing the gender-gap disadvantage among the HEI’s over the years. The Gender Parity Index in HEI for Goa it is 1.28 compared to all States average in India of 0.97.  Goa also has higher females (around 56 percent) enrolled for the post graduate as well as for the undergraduate programs. The GER for females in 31.9 compared to GER for males of 24.9.

Though the number of male teachers (58 percent) surpasses the females at an all India-level, females surpass males at the teaching profession with composition of around 55 percent in various HEI’s in the Goa State Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Delhi. Not surprisingly thus, the high socio-economic indicators of these States gel well with such gender-related data. There is no doubt that the small and vibrant States like Goa has performed far better with reference to the gender-equity parity in HEI sphere. Given the present positive trend it now seems India will as a whole be able to witness a complete normalisation between genders by the year 2024-25.

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