Sunday, April 08, 2012

IIT entrance exam sees 'she change' - 11% increase in female candidates

Woman power is evident in the Indian Institute of Technology’s Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE), too. The IIT-JEE, to be held tomorrow, has seen an 11 per cent increase in the number of girls applying — the highest so far — whereas, boys have seen a mere three per cent rise. The number of students appearing for the exam has also seen a sharp increase. About 530,000 students will take probably the last IIT-JEE, compared to 480,000 students who took the exam last year.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is planning to introduce a single entrance examination for admission to the IITs from 2013. In the admission process, the class 12 board exam score may also get weightage. This year, candidates will be competing for about 9,600 seats in 15 IITs across the country, the Institute of Technology at Benaras Hindu University and the Indian School of Mines at Dhanbad.

Pramod Maheshwari, founder and CEO, Career Point Info Systems, said in the last three years he had seen a shift in the subjects girl students had been choosing. “After internal research, we found that girl students are increasingly opting for mathematics. Earlier, biology was largely opted by girls. Our research and interaction with parents revealed that because the medical profession has a longer pay-back period than engineering, the number of girls applying to IITs over a period of time has been increasing. Besides, the outlook of parents has also changed towards engineering as a profession,” said Maheshwari.

“There has been a 15 per cent rise year-on-year in the number of girls taking the exam in Mumbai. We attribute it to the fact that other courses such as medical have a longer duration and involve higher expenses,” said Chandan Dikshit, marketing head at Rao IIT Academy. He added that since software was one of the favourite professions among girl students, they opted for engineering. “IT companies would want an engineer in their company, rather than a science graduate or a degree holder from other fields,” said Dikshit. About 11,000 plus students will be taking the exam from Rao IIT Academy this year.

Manoj Sharma, vice-president (operations and business development), Resonance, explained the opportunity to get into soft courses like mathematical computing, biomedical engineering and biotechnology at the IITs prompted more girl students to apply. “Waiving of the fee for online IIT-JEE applications for girl students and an offline fee of Rs. 200 for them compared to Rs. 1,800 for boys is also a major boost,” said Sharma.

IIT heads also feel the increase in the number of girl students is most likely because of the free registration. “I do hope this would motivate more girls to apply, which may in turn translate into more female students at the IITs,” said Gautam Barua, Director, IIT-Guwahati.

Officials of coaching institutes also said there was only a marginal increase (around three per cent) in the number of boys applying for the examination. “The number of girls who have applied went up from 22 per cent last year to 33 per cent this year,” according to Sharma of Resonance.

Source: Business Standard, April 8, 2012

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