COIMBATORE: Gender of a student appears to be one of the factors determining a person’s choice of academic course.
National level statistics on higher education compiled by the University Grants Commission (UGC) reveals that more girls prefer to join a course in medicine or teachers’ education than boys. In contrast, the number of boys enrolling in engineering, law and arts, science and commerce courses is far higher than that of the girls.
Provisional admission figures in colleges and universities across the country in the academic year 2010-11 shows that approximately 3.30 lakh girls have enrolled for a course in the faculty of medicine (MBBS/BDS, etc). The number of boys who took up medical education in the country is only 3.22 lakh. “This is a trend we have been observing in recent years. In the first year MBBS classes, we have more girls than boys,” says Dr Mayil Vahanan Natarajan, Vice Chancellor Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University.
In engineering colleges and technical institutions the enrolment of boys was a whopping 20.62 lakh during 2010-11, while only 8.01 lakh girls had joined technical programmes. “If you look at the enrolment in individual branches of engineering, you will get to see sharper gender divisions,” says a senior professor at the Anna University.
Similarly arts courses (Literature, Economics and History) had attracted approximately 32.73 lakh boys and 29.05 lakh girls. In the science stream, the enrolment figures were 17.78 lakh boys and 13.49 lakh girls. However, the number of girls who enrolled for B.Ed and M.Ed courses (Education Faculty), was higher at 3.24 lakh compared to 2.46 lakh boys.
Professor D Kumaran, former HoD of Education, University of Madras, explains the trend thus: “A B.Ed degree helps ladies land a job as a school teacher which has several advantages. First, there is no need to work overtime. Second, the timings synchronises with family responsibilities of women. Third, they get to enjoy a summer vacation.”