Closing the gender gap at India's Institutes of Management
(File) A staggering 77% of school children in India reported being a victim of online or offline bullying, compared to 50% in the UK and 65% in France. Source: CRS PHOTO /

There has been a major step in the right direction in the fight for gender equality in India, with a record number of women gaining admission to Indian Institutes of Management this year.

According to The Times of India (TOI), three out of every 10 students in the incoming batch of 2017-19 across all Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) are women, improving from 26 percent female students in the previous batch.

This progression will significantly improve gender diversity balance in the country’s elite business schools, which has been notoriously favoured in the male direction.

The institutes are not claiming any influence in this uptick of female applicants, saying they did not enforce any female quota or favour females in the application process at all.

“We have not given any direct advantage to female candidates this year, yet the numbers are higher,” an IIM Ahmedabad admission official told TOI.

This year the institute has 38 percent women in the new batch, up from 27 percent last year.

Bangalore, Calcutta and Kozhikode IIMs also confirmed they did not provide any separate quota or weightage for women this year, passing on all credit for improved diversity to the female candidates.

“This year bright women candidates were part of the pool taking the CAT (common admission test),” said Preetam Basu, chairperson in charge of admission at IIM Calcutta.

“Of total candidates who were shortlisted for interviews, only 25 percent were women. Female candidates performed exceptionally well in the interview stage as eventually we selected over 30 percent of the women from the pool,” he told The Economic Times.

The trend reflects improved gender diversity in corporate India as many big companies are actively removing biases against women, such as lesser pay and fewer promotions. They are also making a concerted effort to make the corporate world more accessible to women by implementing women-friendly policies such as longer maternity leave and work-from-home options.

The measures are working, albeit incredibly slowly.

Women already head at least nine banks, five FMCG companies and at least eight IT companies in India. There are at least 7 percent of women as board members in listed companies in India – but at least 50 percent of them are family members of the owners, according to data from AVTAR Career Creators, as reported by Financial Express.

A meagre 1.5 percent of women leaders – from a population of 500 million women – are on company boards of merit, while, according to WILL Forum, almost 90 percent of working women in India are stuck in mid-level jobs.

According to the World Economic Forum, India is ranked 87th on the Global Gender Gap Index.

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