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More women students now study STEM courses in IITs, NITs & other universities, shows govt data

New Delhi: The number of women taking STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses has increased in all institutions, the latest government data shows.

Ministry of Education Minister of State Subhas Sarkar told Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that the enrollment of female students in B.Tech programs in Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) has risen from eight percent in 2016 to 20 percent in 2021 – after IITs were established redundant seats.

With the same development in National Institutes of Technology (NITs), the figure rose to 23 percent in 2021.

In 2017, supernumerary seats for girls were created to accommodate more female students in technical subjects, in institutions such as IITs and NITs. According to data shared by ministry sources, the number of girls students in IITs has increased from 995 in 2017 to 2,990 in 2021.

There are now more female STEM students at state, central, and other universities. According to the 2019-2020 All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) report, the number of female students enrolled in STEM courses increased from 41.97 lakh in 2016-17 to 43.87 lakh in 2020-21.

Sarkar listed the reasons behind this, highlighting the many government schemes that have encouraged women’s involvement in technical education. “In order to promote female students in higher education and research, the University Grants Commission (UGC) offers a special scholarship program for girl students across the country – Post-Graduate Indira Gandhi Scholarship for the single girl child,” said Sarkar.

He further said that All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) also gave 10,000 PRAGATI scholarships annually to economically weaker section girls who want technical education.

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“The scholarship is applicable to students pursuing polytechnic, engineering, pharmacy and architecture courses in council-approved institutions,” Sarkar added.

He said the higher STEM enrollment makes women more “job ready” and also increases the pool of high-quality female candidates for a professorship.

A World Bank report published earlier this year also said that there were 43 percent women among the total number of STEM graduates in India. This figure is much better than that in developed countries. According to the report, the percentage of female STEM graduates is 34 percent in the United States, 31 percent in Canada, and 38 percent in the UK.

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