JEE Advanced 2020 maybe a win-win situation for the boys, but the girls are lagging in the race. Out of the 43,204 students who managed to clear the exam this year, only 6,707 are girls. They do not figure among the top 10, and while Moradabad girl Kanishka Mittal is the topper among girls, securing 17th rank, she is the only girl to have bagged a position among the top 20. Girls, however, performed better this year as compared to 2019 when out of the total 38,705 candidates who cleared the JEE Advanced 2019 exam, 5,356 were female candidates. But as statistics go, girls do not go past the 10,000 marks, and the reason, according to Siddharth Pandey, JEE (Advanced) 2020 organising chairman and IIT Delhi professor, is rooted in their childhood.
“In the rural and suburban belts, where girls do not often have the flexibility to exercise their choices, many of their aspirations are forced to take a backseat. By the time they manage to crack JEE Main, their long years of conditioning becomes a huge roadblock. Many of them have the required aptitude and skills for technical education but what they lack is conviction in their strengths and abilities. These girls may also be deprived of better coaching facilities as their parents are more inclined to invest money on the boys and are even averse to sending girls to the better-known schools,” he adds.
Pandey feels the skewed gender ratio across technical institutes can best be addressed through an increase in the registrations of female candidates for JEE Main. “This will help increase girls’ success rate in JEE Advanced.” Topper among girls Kanishka agrees, saying that lesser number of girls apply for JEE Main and there is a significant number choosing Medicine over Mathematics. “If hypothetically, the girl to boy ratio were the same, there would not have been much difference in their performance and rank.”
Gender stereotyping exists, and it is by no means a recent phenomenon, says Ajit K Chaturvedi, director, IIT Roorkee that has around 20% of girl students. Among the UG, PG and PhD levels, the PhD programme has the highest percentage of girls, at 29.59%.
“Since admission in PhD programmes does not require preparation in coaching classes, the number of girl students at that level is understandably more. Further, admission in UG programmes needs a student to be good in all the three subjects – Math, Physics and Chemistry. But for the PhD programme, it is fine if a student is good in only one subject,” he adds.
Owing to the patriarchal mindset and safety concerns, girls and their parents, according to Chaturvedi, are often reluctant to go to cities far away from their hometowns. This may explain why the fraction of girl students choosing technical education is relatively less.