Published: 28th August 2018
IIMK just added 60 extra seats for women. Here's why other IIMs should follow suit
Women have been under represented in IIMs over the years and it is high time the issue is addressed — besides putting an end to all the misogyny about women in IIMs all over the internet
During its 23rd anniversary celebrations recently, IIM Kozhikode made the semi-historic decision of creating 60 additional seats exclusively for women in their postgraduate management programme (PGP), from the next academic year. This decision has been made by the institute at a time when even after the implementation of a gender-based reservation of 30 per cent for women, IIMC, IIMB and IIIMA have managed to have less than 25 per cent enrolment (according to NIRF data). IIMK will now have a close to 40 per cent (38.75 per cent to be exact) reservation for women — perhaps this is an example that all IIMs ought to try and emulate.
IIMK currently has 420 seats in its Post Graduate programme, where 30 per cent of the seats are reserved for women. Now with the new allocation, the number of seats will rise from 420 to 480. This means that from the 2019-20 batch, a total of 186 seats will be reserved for women. "We were the first introduce to introduce 30 per cent reservation for women in the campus. If the nation isn't totally represented in the campus, there is something wrong in the system. It is nothing like women aren't intelligent or on par with men in terms of their capabilities," says Dr Anandakuttan B Unnithan, Dean, Academic Affairs and Development, IIMK. "This batch will not affect the chance of other candidates since we are creating 60 supernumerary students," he adds, hoping that this will open up a lot more opportunities for women in the country.
The NIRF data tells us that the percentage of female students is a paltry 23.45, 23.2 and 24.17 in IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta and IIM Ahmedabad respectively. IIM Lucknow, that ranks the fourth among the IIMs, however, stood out with a 45 per cent female representation. IIM Kozhikode, on the other hand, has a 36.46 per cent female representation currently and even managed a record 54% women enrolment in the academic year 2012-13.
Why is this a big deal? Because an extremely low female representation in the major IIMs in the country has been a concern all these years that not many have spoken about. This is not just the case in India. A study by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) noted that, "Women, however, are still underrepresented in MBA classrooms in the United States and around the world."
If you need further proof that the perception, beyond the numbers, is that the IIMs are male-dominated lies in pop-fiction. More precisely, Chetan Bhagat's bestseller 2 States, that was published in 2009. In the very first chapter, where Bhagat's protagonist describes his first tryst with his IIM classmate/eventual love interest and wife, this is how he has chosen to do it:
We had only twenty girls in a batch of two hundred. Good-looking ones were rare; girls don't get selected to IIM for their looks. They get in because they can solve mathematical problems faster than 99.99% of India's population and crack the CAT. Most IIM girls are above shallow things like make-up, fitting clothes, contact lenses, removal of facial hair, body odour and feminine charm.
You could dismiss that as mere fiction. However, if you were to browse through interactive portals like Quora, you would very quickly realise that men in IIM have very little regard for the women in IIMs. Not just that, this topic is often ridiculed (sometimes not so subtly in these platforms). Sample this.
Here are a few excerpts from an anonymous Quora user's answer to the question:
Will an increase in the number of girls entering IIMs lead to more intra-IIM marriages?
" .....however, if I was a guy with a well-paying job (making enough money to afford a good lifestyle) I wouldn't really want to marry an IIM-girl. And here is why......your choices are limited and owing to the very few numbers of women on campus, their valuations are not justified (similar to PE multiples for FMCG stocks in India)... So if you delay your "wife-search" to post b-school, you will probably find a much hotter woman...who is interested in you and not vice versa. "
That's not the end of it. The portal also has a series of questions that talk about the arrogance of women who study in the top B-Schools in the country, the pros and cons of marrying them and why the good-looking ones stay away.