If studying agriculture was long considered a male domain, admissions in the OUAT are proving how girls are virtually hitting the glass ceiling and, in fact, fast taking over.
Encouraged mostly by job-oriented courses on offer, girl students at the university are now outnumbering boys. They are occupying more seats than boys at the College of Agriculture, an all-male bastion till a decade back.
When the university started in 1962, the number of girl students was negligible. Of the 615 students, enrolled in the varsity in the last academic session for various under-graduate courses, 321 were girls, over 50 per cent of the total strength.
This academic session too, a large number of them have attended the counselling for admission into the Colleges of Agriculture in Bhubaneswar, Chiplima and Bhawanipatna.
Last session, of the total 194 seats in the College of Agriculture in Bhubaneswar, 113 were girls. Chiplima and Bhawanipatna colleges, which have 48 seats each, had 26 and 21 girl students respectively. In the College of Horticulture at Chiplima, of the 39 seats last year, 25 were girls. The post-graduate and Ph.D courses also showed the same trend.
Faculty members said the change in the trend was noticed five years back with girls bagging all honours usually cornered by boys. During the 32nd convocation of the varsity on Saturday, girls bagged 58 of 80 gold medals.
“Girls are topping all departments of the university. When the university started, there was hardly any girl student but now the trend has altered. We are, in fact, getting more applications from girls year after year,” said the outgoing OUAT Dean (Agriculture) and Chairman of Admission Council Board, Dibakar Nayak.
Vice-Chancellor of the university D P Ray finds the trend encouraging. “I have been associated with varsity for over five years and seen a clear drift in the preference of girls. They are more serious about studying and doing everything with sincerity while boys are now searching for avenues where they can make a quick buck and take to those streams where they can land jobs faster,” he said.
And what makes girls opt for agriculture? There are several opportunities like research in fertilisers and pesticides, said Varsha Rout, who has opted for agriculture.
“These days a job in the IT industry is insecure and agricultural science provides greater career opportunities. We can also choose to work in agro-based industries,” she reasoned.