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Girls top board exams, but fall short beyond

Although girls do very well in science compared with boys in the Class 10 and 12 board exams, they fall considerably behind in competitive exams, such as IIT-JEE and the olympiads, a study shows.

mumbai Updated: May 30, 2010 00:52 IST
Snehal Rebello

Although girls do very well in science compared with boys in the Class 10 and 12 board exams, they fall considerably behind in competitive exams, such as the Indian Institute of Technology’s Joint Entrance Examinations (IIT-JEE) and the olympiads, a study shows.

Although more than half the girls who sit for the CBSE class 12 exam score more than 90 per cent overall (the majority are from the science stream), not even one-tenth of those who take the IIT exam get through, a study by the Mankhurd-based Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education reveals.

These are averages over the three years to 2009. During this period, the number girls appearing for the killer exam increased by four per cent to 26, but the number selected has increased by only two per cent to 10.

Girls are even more under-represented in various science Olympiad teams: in physics only 2 girls and 65 boys have been on the teams since 1998; in chemistry the ratio is 2 to 46 since 2000; and in mathematics there were three girls out of 132 participants since 1989.

“India has a history of gender inequality,” said Professor Vijay Singh, who carried out the study with Praveen Pathak.

Their study will appear in the Current Science magazine, published by the Indian Academy of Sciences.

Two weeks ago, Mumbai girl Akaksha Sarda became the second girl to represent India at the International Physics Olympiad. “At the training camp, I stuck out like a sore thumb in a batch of 36 boys,” said Sarda, who at rank 18 was also the national girl topper at this year’s IIT-JEE last week.