New Delhi: The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will reserve a fifth of their seats — 20 per cent — for women students, a step towards the central government’s goal of creating a gender balance in technical education.
The percentage of reserved seats will go up from 17 per cent to 20 per cent from academic year 2020-21, but the quota is supernumerary in nature, which means it won’t come at the cost of unreserved seats. Each institute will have to increase the overall number of seats to make sure the enhanced quota doesn’t cut the number of unreserved seats.
The announcement was made Monday by IIT-Delhi, which is the conducting authority for the Joint Entrance Exam (Advanced), the gateway to admission across the 23 IITs.
“A decision has been taken at the level of the IIT Council (which takes all policy decisions related to IITs) to, inter alia, improve the gender balance in the undergraduate programs at the IITs to at least 20 percent in 2020-21 by creating supernumerary seats specifically for female candidates,” IIT-Delhi said in an information brochure released on the JEE (Advanced) website.
“To achieve this objective, supernumerary seats will thus be created and offered to female candidates for improving the gender balance in the undergraduate programs in IITs,” it added.
The seats, however, will only be offered to women who have cleared the JEE (Advanced), and the admissions based on their performance in the test.
The exact number of seats on offer will be calculated by each institute once the results are out.
The participation of women in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and maths — in India has been low. According to statistics published by the Department of Science and Technology, in 2017-18, women comprised only 14 per cent of the workforce in research and development.
This is one of the reasons the central government is working at the foundation level to boost women’s presence in technical education.
In 2018, the central government decided to add supernumerary seats for women in IITs.
In the first year of implementation, 2018-19, 14 per cent of seats were added, going up to 17 per cent in 2019-20 and 20 per cent in 2020-21. The government’s aim was to ultimately reserve 20 per cent of IIT seats for women.
According to Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) data, addition of supernumerary seats for women has helped improve the percentage of women in IITs.
In 2016, the number of female students in IITs was 8 per cent, but the number increased to 18 per cent in 2018, HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank told Parliament this month.