The number of women applicants for Sunday's IIT-JEE has seen a phenomenal rise of 30% than last year. Of the 5.07 lakh candidates, 1.69 lakh are women.
With women so far accounting for only 10-12% of the IIT population, this year's exam trend could be a small but positive step in improving the gender ratio in the premier institute.
Just three months ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had called for more women in the field of science, saying they were under-represented.
"The number of women students across the IITs is just around 10-12%. Logically it should be 50-50. But on more practical terms, 30% is attainable," said Dr Sanjay Dhande, director, IIT Kanpur.
Dr Dhande said consistently girls outperform boys in the boards and their numbers in the other engineering colleges too was high. It's only in the IITs that their count is low.
One of the reasons for the surge in women applicants this year could be the sharp drop in application fee - Rs 200 offline and free of cost if registered online.
Till last year, both men and women from the general category had to pay Rs 1,800 for offline and Rs 1,600 for online registration.
IIT Guwahati director Gautam Baruah hoped the high number of women applicants translates into admissions this year.
"Even if there is a 15% rise in women students, it will be a positive sign," said Baruah.