Entry of female students to IIMs soars in 2019

The Indian Institute of Management (IIM) has witnessed a better gender balance in the current academic year with overall 1,619 female candidates gaining admission as against 1,349 in 2017-19. As per data shared by the Human Resource Development Ministry in the Rajya Sabha last month, the percentage of female students to the total students admitted in IIMs for the year 2017, 2018 and 2019 are 25.69 per cent, 26.85 per cent and 30.61 per cent, respectively.


Among the 20 IIMs in India, Bangalore, Rohtak, Sambalpur and Tiruchirappalli have seen a steady rise in the enrollment. The oldest among these — IIM-B — registered 114 female students in the 2017-19 batch for its flagship MBA programme, which grew to 165 in 2019-21. While the prestigious IIM-Ahmedabad’s ratio of women applicants has plummeted this year, the silver lining comes with the newer IIMs who have scored better in ensuring seats for women.



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More female candidates apply for CAT

Among these, IIM-Rohtak has seen the most dramatic increase with 6 per cent female students in 2016 (9 girls) to 50 per cent of the batch in consecutive two years (119 in 2018 and 124 in 2019).


Director IIM-Rohtak, Prof Dheeraj Sharma said corporates today have made diversity a top priority, which has led to more women showing interest in higher education, especially in management courses. “More female students are now competing for the Common Admission Test (CAT) that has eventually resulted in improved gender diversity among students in IIMs,” he said.


In CAT 2018, out of 2.41 lakh candidates, 84,350 females applied as against 78,009 in 2017. In 2015, only 69,176 had registered.


The highest summer internship offer for the batch of 2018-20 in IIM-Nagpur was made to a female candidate. There are also some companies that have specific hiring programmes to encourage gender balance. Early this year, Amazon had shown interest in recruiting women under their diversity hiring programs (Amazon Women of the World event).


As per Madhu Srivastava, Group CHRO, Vedanta Group, there is a significant increase in the number of women being hired in high impact roles across industries, and in turn, resulting in more women in leadership roles in the future. “The selection criteria that the IIMs currently have seems to be working well in terms of encouraging diversity. Every time we go to campuses, we find a greater diversity percentage, which is positive news,” she noted.


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To each its own

As of now, the government has not fixed any target for admission of female students. According to the HRD Ministry, IIMs are free to frame their own admission policy and the government does not interfere in it. However, all IIMs have given some additional weightage for increasing the number of women candidates.


Initially, higher points were given to academic performance in class 10 and 12 but most IIMs are modifying their selection policy. IIM-Nagpur has incorporated a diversity score during the shortlisting of candidates.


“It is generally observed that women perform better at this level and it was expected to improve the gender ratio in the classrooms. However, a more direct measure of diversity score was taken to ensure gender balance in the classrooms,” said admissions chairperson Prof Varsha Khandker, IIM-Nagpur.


The weightage given to diversity during stage II of the admission process in the institute was increased from 5 per cent in 2018-20 to 10 per cent in 2019-21.


“The final number of female candidates in a batch would depend on two factors — the admission policy of IIM Nagpur and the pull from other institutes. As a result of the change in our admissions policy, the proportion of females among the total candidates called for the personal interview increased from 21.73 per cent (2018-20) to 29.78 per cent (2019-21). Also, the proportion of female candidates in the total final offers made went up marginally from 24.68 per cent in 2018-20 to 25.71 per cent in 2019-21,” informed Khandker.


Supernumerary seats

From 124 in 2018 to 152 this year, IIM-Calcutta has seen persistent growth in female candidates. While they deny changing any admission policy, they have maintained some extra points for them during the interview phase. According to Professor Sumanta Basu, chairman of the admission committee, IIM-C, this time, 4 per cent extra weightage is assigned as gender diversity factor during the second stage while deciding the interview list.


“The applicants were interviewed to understand their fitness considering the managerial aptitude, knowledge and analytical skills. The credit for a higher percentage of female students goes to the candidates themselves as they met the expectations of the interviewers on all three fronts,” he remarked.




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