By Vishal Narayan
The latest trends in higher education reveal more instances of women dropping out from hard sciences -- after completing their post-graduation (PG) and not pursuing a doctorate -- than men, while more men did their doctorate even in courses where they were outnumbered by women at the PG level.
According to the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2016-17 report, released by the Human Resource Development Ministry last week, a total of 6,786 students enrolled themselves for a Ph.D in chemistry, of whom 4,203 (61.93 per cent) were men and 2,583 (38 per cent) women.
However, the same course saw an enrolment of 43.7 per cent men at the PG level against women who constituted the rest.
In physics, where women comprised 68.2 per cent at the PG level, their number reduced to 36.82 per cent at the Ph.D level against 63.17 for men.
Also in mathematics, women were outnumbered by men in Ph.D despite forming a higher proportion at the PG level. Of 3,335 enrolments in mathematics for Ph.D, at least 57 per cent were men.
In the entire science stream -- divided into 18 sub-streams with physics, maths, chemistry and others -- a total of 37,363 students were enrolled in Ph.D.
The disparity in the "Engineering and Technology" stream -- divided in 19 sub-streams -- was found to be starker, with 91.3 per cent men hogging the Ph.D in the mechanical engineering programme.
Similarly, in computer engineering, out of 4,183 students in Ph.D, 60.79 per cent were men, despite being outnumbered by women at the postgraduate level with their number lower at 42.7 per cent.
The Ph.D trend evens out a little in social sciences, which is divided in 13 sub-streams, with more women doing Ph.D in sociology against more of men in economics and political science.
However, at least in the latter course (to the extent the report mentions it), slightly fewer men (47.8 per cent) constituted the students count at the PG level against women.
Among language streams, however, women outflank men uniformly with 57.7 per cent of them against 42.3 per cent men, out of 2,609 students enrolled in Ph.D in English.
Of a total of 32 students enrolled for Ph.D in the French language, about 60 per cent were women.
Women comprised over 66.5 per cent of all post-graduates out of over 200,000 in languages (97 per cent of all in English).
(Vishal Narayan can be contacted at email@example.com)