Why don't our girls want to be engineers?

Aptitude has nothing to do with it.

Sarwat Fatima Sarwat Fatima Jan 18, 2017
Perhaps we've got a patriarchal society to blame for the dip. Photo courtesy: Twitter/ AmeGne

As per reports, the committee has suggested creating up to 20% extra  seats for girls. The decision comes after seeing a significant dip in the enrollment of female students in IITs across the country.

The reservation might lure female students to IIT or even secure them a place, but this evident slump clearly signifies that engineering is not one of the top choices of girls these days.

According to a report published in Times of India in 2009, number of girls who joined undergraduate courses in engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu dipped by 3.47%, compared to 2008.

It was noted that girls prefer courses such as electronics and communication, computer science, and IT--as opposed to core engineering courses like mechanical engineering and civil engineering. "However, the slowdown in the IT sector has led to lesser girls joining the circuit branches," stated the report.

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Can we solely blame the dearth of jobs in the sector for the dip? Cleary not. Gender imbalance in engineering colleges is not a recent occurring.

The reservation might lure female students to IIT or even secure them a place. Photo courtesy: Facebook/IITKharagpur The reservation might lure female students to IIT or even secure them a place. Photo courtesy: Facebook/IITKharagpur

In 2013, a study titled--Women in Engineering: A Comparative Study of Barriers Across Nations, found out that for every eight to 14 male students in premier engineering colleges in India, there is just one woman! Now, that's some difference.

The study further explored the reasons behind this lop-sided ratio, and the results are not very surprising. "The skewed sex-ratio has a lot to do with the patriarchal mindset of the society, which desists girls from getting a higher education. One of the most prominent causes behind the low selection rate is inadequate coaching or provision of quality education for girls in India", states the study.

Think about it: how many female engineers do you actually know? Sure, a big bunch of your female classmates in school took core science subjects. But how many of them actually went on to study engineering? On an average, women ace subjects like physics, chemistry, and math in central examinations. However, this rarely translates into higher enrollment for women in engineering colleges.

Engineering in India is a competitive field, one that requires a lot of hardwork and dedication. Photo courtesy: SpartanEngineer Engineering in India is a competitive field, one that requires a lot of hardwork and dedication. Photo courtesy: SpartanEngineer

Perhaps we've got a patriarchal society to blame. You can't ignore the fact that engineering is considered to be a man's domain. Women, more often than not, become professors of the subjects they excel in school-but its practical applications are left to men.

Then, there's the matter of parental expectations. "Hamara beta engineer banega, aur beti doctor." Isn't this is the case with most families?  If parents don't encourage their daughters-like they encourage their sons-to become engineers, then isn't this lop-sided sex ratio a no-brainer?

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Engineering in India is a competitive field, one that requires a lot of hardwork and dedication. Boys are mostly forced to be engineers, and so many of them don the hard-shelled hats, while others do MBAs and become corporate honchos. Let's leave the dreamers and artists alone for a moment. Girls who aspire to be engineers very rarely do so because it was their parents' mandate; it's ambition that's brings them to the race. And it's a race with majority of men, and very few engineering seats. So naturally, by the virtue of sheer probability, they are lesser in number.

The 2013 study suggested initiatives to solve this problem--one being increasing the number of seats for female students. Seeing that the institutes are now ready to implement the quota from later this year or early 2018, we are hoping the statistics would improve.

We also hope, parents have the same ambition for their daughters as they do with their sons. Aptitude doesn't have a gender, neither does aspiration.

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