NEW DELHI: A record number of women have got admission in Indian Institutes of Management this year, significantly improving gender diversity balance in the country’s elite business schools. 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% female students in the previous batch. And the institutes say this has come about without any effort on their part.
“We have not given any direct advantage to female candidates this year, yet the numbers are higher,” said an IIM Ahmedabad admission official. This year the institute has 38% women in the new batch, up from 27% last year. Bangalore, Calcutta and Kozhikode IIMs, too, confirmed they did not provide any separate quota or weightage for women this year, passing on all credit for improved diversity to female candidates.
Female candidates performed exceptionally well in the interview stage as eventually we selected over 30% women of the total pool.
The trend reflects improved gender diversity in corporate India as many big companies actively remove biases against women, such as lesser pay and fewer promotions, and implement women-friendly policies such as longer maternity leaves and work-from-home options. India is still ranked a distant 130 in the World Bank’s gender equality index.
But women’s increasing interest in higher education, particularly management courses, shows that things are changing for the better. Experts at IIMs said improved gender diversity is directly proportionate to higher number of women competing for coveted seats at B-schools even as coorperates show interest in hiring more women at entry level from campuses.
“Most progressive cooperates like ours have made diversity a top priority,” said SV Nathan, chief talent officer at professional services major Deloitte India that is increasing its women hire from campuses every year. Capgemini, too, is increasingly hiring more woman freshers. “We see B-school graduates as potential leaders in Capgemini,” said Jaideep Chavan, who heads the French IT consultant firm’s talent acquisition in India.
“Hence, it is important for us to focus on gender inclusion from B-schools to enhance gender diversity at the leadership level in future.” At IIM Kozhikode and Bangalore, percentage of women in the incoming batch is just about touching 30%. “We have not made any changes this year.
We have been getting good mix of candidates over the past few years,” said Sony Thomas, professor at IIM Kozhikode. IIM Kozhikode in 2013 had given weightage to gender and academic diversity, resulting in over 50% women in the batch. Since then it discontinued weightage for gender diversity after noticing that a significant number of candidates coming from non-engineering background were women.
The new diversity focus at IIMs is to bring in more non-engineers into their campuses. At IIM Ahmedabad, in fact, the percentage of non-engineer students has substantially increased to 32.91% this year from 20% last year. IIM Calcutta is also planning to give more weight-age to non-engineers as the non-engineer ratio of 8.8% is very low.