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On course with gender bias

india Updated: Jun 23, 2006 11:31 IST
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Only girls study subjects like Psychology and Sociology. And Science subjects are for boys. However, things have changed today. Nobody thinks that way any more.

So, isn’t it time even colleges too stop ‘thinking’ that way? A look into the colleges and courses they offer highlights some interesting facts. Subjects like Sociology and Psychology are there mostly in women’s colleges.

Also, many ‘upmarket’ women’s colleges cater only to commerce and humanities stream, dropping science altogether. “It has become a culturally-accepted norm. Earlier, it was thought women could study soft subjects like Sociology or Psychology that are more related to child-rearing. But now times have changed. Yet nobody is making an effort to change the practices,” laments Dr Roopali Sircar Gaur, vice-principal, Venkateswara College.

There are five women’s colleges that offer Sociology (Honours) as compared to two co-ed colleges (Hindu and Venkateswara). When it comes to Psychology (Honours) and Applied Psychology (Honours), there is only one co-ed college that offers the course.

Philosophy (Honours) is taught only in St. Stephen’s College and Zakir Hussain College. “There is a predominant misconception that men are more suited for business and management. I fail to understand why there is a herd mentality towards such courses,” says Dr Aslam Pervez, principal, Zakir Husaain College.

Even boys agree that though they would like to try out courses like Sociology and Psychology, it is the lack of colleges that drive them to think otherwise. “How many co-ed colleges teach such courses? Also, parents do not even think of Sociology or Psychology as an option for boys,” says Siddharth Vij, a Class XII pass-out.

This year at St. Stephen’s College, out of 130 students called for interview in Philosophy (Honours), 44 are male candidates. At Zakir Hussain College, there is a 50:50 ratio in Psychology (Honours) applications. Of the 18 women’s colleges, only five colleges offer Science courses.

“It is unfortunate that many of the women’s colleges do not teach Science courses. It looks as if they are more of finishing schools,” adds Dr Gaur. Even as prominent women’s colleges excel in Social Siences, many students are left in the lurch when they prefer a college over course.

“Despite being a science student, I wish to study in LSR or IP College. As a result, I have opted for mass communication and journalism courses,” says Ankita Datta. Colleges blame the lack of infrastructure and age-old norms for subject preferences.

“It’s an 82-year-old institution. At that time, women were not keen on studying science. Now we don’t have the infrastructure to develop Science courses,” said VM Arora, vice-principal, IP College.

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