The Kooky Skew in Sex Ratio in Engineering
It's early morning at 4 a.m., the rustle of papers, a strong coffee, and a determined mind is what it takes to be eligible to dream in India. The mind has just one goal "Top Engineering College". Not just one, neither hundreds nor thousands but lakhs, having the same ultimate goal. There are nervous minds, a few confident, and happy minds but mostly pressurized and helpless minds. As the hustle begins, the journey is pretty rough. Depression, sleepless nights, expectations failing, unhealthy competition, and jealousy are your comrade in arms. Finally, by hook or by crook these minds get into engineering colleges.
“No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contribution of half its citizens.”
― Michelle Obama
It is observed that subjects involving other sciences namely mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry and other fields like commerce and arts have almost equal or less difference in the percentage of males and females. But engineering or technology has experienced a poor sex ratio which is a dismal 3:7 female to male overall. In some colleges, it is even worse than this. Why? Biologically speaking, a male body has more stamina and strength than the female body. Working conditions as an engineer earlier mostly involved- handling heavy machines, transferring heavy packages, shop floor activities where you hardly get to sit and work. Thus, women naturally did not prefer this field. But later on, with the advent of computers, electronics, artificial intelligence, etc. engineering got a new dimension. However, stereotypes were already made regarding women that they are weak in mathematics and calculations ignoring the fact that engineering had evolved. Such a mentality always discouraged women from getting into this field because from the beginning, this had been a male-dominated field and it was considered for a woman to be not safe in such an environment.
Another scientific fact is that male brains have more grey matter than female brains and female brains have more white matter than male brains. But the difference is too small to be considered. "Girls are less intelligent than boys" is a myth as it is was observed that although girls opting for engineering were less, the percentage for those completing the course successfully that to those failing were equal or more than their male counterparts.
Society has also played a role in this. In this patriarchal society, a man has to work and earn. The earlier he does, the more beneficial it would be is what the society thinks. Thus, engineering is the best option for them. On the other hand, girls are considered to be dumb and more favored for careers involving hospitalization, art, and teaching. Hence both of these societal prejudices reinforce each other for unhealthy consequences. Also, it is seen that there is a very bad atmosphere for girls in engineering colleges. They get unnecessary stalkers, intimidating professors, and biased college rules, although some of the girls still seem to enjoy this unwarranted attention.
On a personal note, it is very sad that when we(girls) happily announce our results and all we get to hear is "Oh yeah you are a girl, you had to get this." It really hurts, after hearing taunts from people in the society, mocked for being dumb when we still continue to strive. Some professors indeed become lenient with us but I don't think the girls who have reached great heights in this field are because of any partiality shown to them by society but what I believe is that it is sheer hard work and passion that paid off. All the male identities in my life have been extremely unbiased and I had no idea about such inequality persisting until I stepped onto this path. I am happy that I did as I broke out from the shell I was living in.
Again, every year engineering colleges get its bait, and the cycle repeats. Hoping that each new year a better atmosphere and behavior are expected. But the sad thing is that the seniors in the college love to follow the bad legacy and treat the new ones in the same way they were treated. There should be a stop to this, hopefully, every place will surely witness it. The number of females opting for engineering is increasing every year and surely society is getting better and better. All we have to do is support and keep growing distancing ourselves from any biases that cloud our mind for "A particular gender dominance enslaves both men and women in their own ways."
-Submitted by Rashmi Hegde, via CollegeTime