Gender disparity continues to plague the education system. As UGC (University Grants Commission) invited suggestions in order to “Promote and improve the quality of education in Indian universities,” gender disparity came out to be one of the major issues that continue to malign the education system. PhDs are dominated more by men while M Phils saw more participation from women in 2017-18.

The number of women enrolling in PhDs over the years has been constantly lesser than men. In 2017-18, one lakh men enrolled in PhDs, whereas the number of women enrolling in the same was as less as 65,000.

In 2017-18, one lakh men enrolled in PhDs, whereas the number of women enrolling in the same was as less as 65,000. So, the question arises why are women lesser in number as compared to men, especially in research fields? The reports from the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) for the duration of 2017-18 reveals that around 53% of researches have been carried out in the fields of Science, Engineering, and Technology. Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar, Vice-chancellor, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) told Times of India, “One of the reasons behind fewer women in Ph.D. courses is that the STEM fields are largely dominated by men. Global data suggests that women earn more degrees in PhDs than men in areas like Health Sciences, Education, Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences.”

Bhushan Patwardhan, Vice Chairman UGC, says, “Research options in India are offered only after Post graduation. In many cases, girls are stopped from pursuing higher education because of societal pressure and limitations due to family pressure. Since M Phil can be completed in two years, it is considered to be a viable option by women as compared to PhDs, which takes around five years to complete.”

Prioritising Son’s Education Over Daughter’s

Gregory White in her reportEducational Inequality in India: An Analysis of Gender Differences in Reading and Mathematics, writes  “It is hypothesised that gender inequality may result from historical attitudes regarding the education of girls as well as certain parents choosing to prioritise sons’ education over daughters’ education. This may be due to a hidden opportunity cost of engaging girls in activities (e.g. childcare) that have economic value for the family, particularly for girls in rural areas and from the lowest income families.”

Though the condition seems to be improving when it comes to girls in higher education, lower-income families still do not find it good to allow girls to pursue higher education.

Though the condition seems to be improving when it comes to girls in higher education, lower-income families still do not find it good to allow girls to pursue higher education. Priya from Shivrajpur Village in Uttar Pradesh says, “We are allowed to go for education only till 12th class. Many of my friends rebelled against their families’ decision of marrying them and went on to pursue graduation too. But at no cost are we allowed to go beyond that. And somewhere, even we know that no matter what level of education we gain, ultimately we have to indulge in domestic chores.”

India’s current literacy rate stands at 74.04%, with Kerala standing at the top spot as far as literacy rate goes in states. However, for 80.9% of men who are literate, only 64.60% of women are literate. The youth literacy rates stand at 86.1% at the national level.

Read More: Why Sex Education In Schools Is The Need Of The Hour

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