Friday, May 20, 2011

IIT panel proposes to steer girls towards Engineering

Girls may receive higher ranks than boys with identical total marks in the Indian Institutes of Technology Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE) if the government accepts a sensitive new proposal to improve the gender balance on IIT campuses. A Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) panel under former atomic energy commission chairman Anil Kakodkar has proposed changing the way students in the IIT-JEE are ranked, to increase the number of girls at the premier engineering schools.

Only 12% of all students selected into the IITs through the JEE in 2010 were girls. Only one in every hundred girls who takes the IIT-JEE clears the exam, as compared to three boys out of every hundred, the Kakodkar panel has concluded after scouring through years of data from the intensely competitive examination.

If the proposal is accepted, a girl student will on average jump at least 10 ranks. The MHRD is studying the recommendations - set up to pencil a blueprint for the future of the IITs - and the panel's report will also be examined by the IIT Council.

The IITs at present rank students with the same total marks in the JEE by seeing who has higher marks in the subject - out of physics, chemistry and math - where all students have overall performed worst. If a tie still persists, the IITs then look at scores in the subject with the second-lowest cut-off --- a reflection of overall student performance in that subject --- to try and break the deadlock. Students with identical total and individual subject marks are some years given the same rank, and other years separated by a random process like their date of birth. The procedure is specified in the prospectus.

The panel has suggested that girls from each clump of students with the same total score be automatically separated and ranked higher than boys in the group. The panel has also recommended the government to reimburse 50% fee for selected girls.

Source: Hindustan Times, May 20, 2011

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