Friday, July 05, 2013

Newer IIMs Stay Low on Gender Balance

Most of the newer Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have a long distance to cover before they can catch up with their older counterparts on gender diversity. The percentage of women in the 2013-15 batch at four IIMs in Tiruchirapalli, Ranchi, Shillong and Udaipur, has dropped - in some cases sharply. Only three of the seven new IIMs - Rohtak, Raipur and Kashipur - have managed to surpass last year's numbers. The six older IIMs have all outdone last year's performance (ET, June 17).

At IIM-Shillong, which is in its sixth year, the percentage of women has fallen to 22% this year from nearly 30% of the batch last time. IIM-Ranchi has seen the numbers drop to 8.75% this year from 18% in the 2012-14 batch and IIM-Udaipur, to 13.6% in the 2013-15 batch from 28% last time. The sharpest fall has been in the case of IIM-Trichy, where, at 52.9%, more than half the class of 2012-14 comprised women. This year, it's a mere 15.7%.

With the exception of IIM-Shillong and IIM-Ranchi, all the new IIMs awarded extra points to women in the interest of gender diversity. It worked in some cases, like that of IIM-Raipur or IIM-Rohtak, where the institute has seen the percentage of women jump nearly five-fold to 47.6% from 9.6%.

"There is a feeling in the government as well as corporates that increased representation of women is the need of the hour. That's true of educational institutes as well," says IIM-Rohtak Director P. Rameshan. The institute gave women students extra points for gender diversity at the time of shortlisting.

IIM-Trichy, on its part, gave one percentage point extra to women candidates, marginally lower than what was given last year. But Godwin Tennyson, Chairperson, Placement and External Relations, IIM-Trichy says that cannot be the only reason for the higher proportion of women last year.

"The percentage of women admitted in an IIM has many drivers starting from the percentage of women who cleared CAT and qualified for the admission selection process. A candidate gets admitted based on about seven dimensions: written analysis test, personal interview, work experience, performance at undergraduate level, masters degree or professional qualification, gender and CAT score," says Tennyson. "So, the chance of someone getting admitted to an IIM is a complex function with many moving parts. We cannot filter out a single dimension that really contributed to the admission of a student," he adds.

IIM-Shillong, on its part, says it has always focused on meritocracy and diversity of the participants, and not on gender diversity for their PGDM course. Diversity is not about one programme alone, says MJ Xavier, Director of IIM-Ranchi. So while the institute's PGDM programme has seen a fall in the number of women, their PGDHRM programme has a much higher proportion of women - nearly 37%, or 16 out of 43 students.

"Between the various programmes including FPM, we have around 20% women on campus. Without giving marks for gender diversity, we have still managed to attract a lot of women," says Xavier. "However, since most people are giving extra marks for women, I may be forced to do that from next year," he added.

Added the IIM-Ranchi Director: "We are trying to achieve diversity across many dimensions such as educational background, work experience, masters degree and gender. Overall, all these dimensions contribute to the learning experience in the class. At the same time, we also try to ensure that quality of the batch is not compromised for diversity."

With corporates trying to shore up their gender diversity numbers and IIMs serving as one of the most critical pipelines of managerial talent, there's a buzz across campuses about getting more women on board. Already, there have been changes made in the pattern of CAT: 50% weightage to language skills as well as a written test during the admission process, both designed to get more women.

The number of women applicants in CAT has also seen an increase to 60,876 in 2012, which represents 28.4% of total applicants compared with 27.3% in CAT 2011.

Debashis Chatterjee, Director of IIM-Kozhikode, which at 54.29%, has the highest number of women across all IIMs, says the institute was responding to market demands for diversity. For the past 40 to 50 years, 8% to 10% was the average composition of women in IIM classes, he says, adding: "That was lopsided, the diversity skewed in terms of gender. Now it's not only about correcting the balance, but also about creating the necessary aspirations among women."

Global B-schools, he says, now decide diversity profiles before they admit students. "Once diversity is made a consideration, more women apply. IIMs don't have to give points to women. They just have to change their lens," says Chatterjee.

Source: The Economic Times, July 5, 2013

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