The biased gender ratio in engineering is the main reason why fewer women take CAT each year



Each year, the number of registrations for the Common Entrance Test (CAT) suggests that women applying for the Management Entrance Examination represent half of the total registrations of male applicants. In CAT 2021, a total of 1.24 lakh of men took the exam, compared to just 66,850 women. Likewise, in 2019 a total of 2.44 lakh applicants applied to the CAT, of which over 1.6 lakh were male and only 86,000 were female.

More male aspirants for the management entrance exam

MP Ram Mohan, professor at IIM Ahmedabad and host of CAT2021, believes that there could be several reasons why male applicants outnumber women writing CAT, but the main reason includes the applicants’ academic training .

“While this requires a detailed analysis of behavior and pedagogical interest, one of the main reasons could be that the majority of TAO applications and MBA applicants continue to come from engineering disciplines. I am not commenting on the pros and cons of the disciplines, but as we know there are more male applicants than women in engineering schools, ”Professor Ram said.

Engineering continues to be dominated by men

The gender disparity is evident in the enrollment data for the engineering entrance exam. The National Testing Agency (NTA) had received 6.5 lakh registrations for the main session of the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) of February 2021. However, there was a difference of more than 2.5 lakh between registrations. male and female. More boys than double the number of girls wrote the entrance exam for engineering.

Likewise, 75 percent of the total applicants who registered for the JEE Advanced 2021 – the entrance exam for admission to IITs – were men. Only 34,530 of the total 1,41699 applicants were women.

Professor V Ramgopal Rao, Director of IIT Delhi, agrees that the biased male-to-female ratio in CAT may be due to the fact that engineering courses are dominated by boys.

“More people from engineering than any other discipline apply for CAT and change gears in their careers with an MBA. Therefore, the gender disparity in engineering can impact CAT records. General understanding of engineering is still limited to tough men with helmets working on sites or using heavy machinery. The perception is gradually changing but requires even more awareness, ”said Rao. IIT Delhi will soon launch an awareness program for girls studying in grade 10 and above to familiarize them with career options in the field of engineering.

Annual registration data Man Female Total
CAT 2021 (published) 1 24,150 66,850 1.91 lakh
CAT 2020 1, 47 699 80 135 2.27, 835
CAT 2019 1 58 190 85, 810 2.44 lakh
JEE Main (February) 2021 454852 197771 652627
Advanced JEE 2021 1.07.179 34 520 1 41 699
NEET-UG 2021 7,10,979 9.03.782 16,14,777
NEET-UG 2020 7 16 586 8.80,843 15 97435

Role of societal perception and access to coaching

It’s not just about the perception of an industry, but also what it takes to break the glass ceiling, says Himanshu Rai, director of IIM Indore. It may sound like an individual household problem, but “it is a serious problem at the macro level”.

“The pressure or perception of society is not limited to preventing girls from entering a particular industry, but is not subjecting them to what it takes to pass an entrance exam. Access to coaching centers is limited for students in rural areas, especially girls. The concept of taking the exams has now become synonymous with studying in Kota or Rajinder Nagar, but not all parents are comfortable sending their daughters out of their hometown. Therefore, dreams are crushed even before there is an effort in that direction, ”he said.

Professor Ram also points to students’ interest in business as a major reason. “When I speak to female students, especially about entrepreneurship, I see a greater sense of anticipation of a difficult road to travel. We need a more caring and compassionate business world for female entrepreneurship to thrive. Maybe female candidates see the business world very differently from men, ”he said.

“Traditional” career choice for women

NEET-UG registration data reaffirms the “traditional” career choice for women as it is one of the few exams where female applicants outnumber male applicants. Out of the total of 16 lakh NEET-UG 2021 candidates, more than 9 lakh were female compared to only 7 lakh male candidates. NEET-UG 2020 supports the trend where 8.80 lakh females and 7.16 lakh males had registered.

Dr Amit Gupta, professor at AIIMS Rishikesh, does not believe that societal pressure has an impact on the career choices of girls, but it is the innate capacities of women that attract more women to the medical field.

“Engineering is always seen as industry-driven work. Traditionally, jobs that require compassion and empathy would receive more applications from women than from men. The idea that people with excellent soft skills should join the medical field still exists. Women, by default, have better empathy and attention than men. Therefore, more women are choosing to make efforts to join the medical industry over engineering, ”Gupta said.

Rai believes that institutes need to react positively to solve the problem, which would allow more women to enter management classes. “There is a need to provide additional grades or facilitate admission arrangements for applicants from non-STEM academic backgrounds. Integrated programs that allow students to enroll after grade 12 can also help avoid the gender problem in engineering courses, ”he added.



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