Concerned over the low number of female applicants taking the Common Admission Test (CAT) for admission to the country’s business schools, the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore (IIM-B), is to shortly commission a study.
"The number of girls applying for CAT is very low. We (wish) to find out why," said Pankaj Chandra, Director, IIM-B.
The institute is designing a questionnaire and is to soon hire an external agency to conduct a survey. IIM-B's admissions team is to also hold some “open houses” to interact with female students, at various women's engineering colleges.
"Though we have never talked internally about any reservation for women, we are constantly thinking about ways to bring more girls into the pool. We are very curious to find why girls are not writing the CAT," said Chandra.
In 2012, IIM-B registered 100 women in its 2012-2014 batch of 377. "It works out to 26 per cent of the batch size and we would like more,” said the director.
The IIMs have trying to increase the gender diversity on their campuses and thinking of changes in the examination pattern to reduce the skew towards engineers.
For the first time this year, IIM Calcutta decided to award three points (out of 100) to female candidates. The number of short-listed women candidates doubled to 395 from 170 in 2012. Among the new IIMs, the one at Rohtak is awarding 30 additional marks to a girl, IIM Udaipur is giving 15 marks and IIM Kashipur three.
The number of female CAT test takers has gone up over the past two years, to 56,050 in 2011 and 60,876 in 2012. However, the exam pattern might be keeping female students away from taking it up, say industry players.
It has two sections—quantitative ability and data interpretation and verbal ability and logical reasoning. In sum , a highly quantitative one.
"Mostly, students from engineering backgrounds write the CAT and with the engineering institutions itself having less number of women students on campus, how can one expect the IIMs to have more women students?" said the director of a coaching institute in Delhi.
This year, all the top 10 rankers in the CAT were males. There were only four girls in the 99.99 percentile league. In all, there were 255 girls, compared to 1,640 boys, scoring more than 99 percentile.
"The IIMs need to bring a balance in the examination. Merely talking about having more numbers of female students and not addressing the skewed examination pattern — with two-third quantitative and one-third verbal — will not do," the director added.