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Ex-IIT women out to balance equation

Now, the small but influential group of women IITians plan to flex woman power, reports Neha Bhayana.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2006 03:13 IST

On a campus perpetually short of women, they had grittily held their own. Now, the small but influential community of former women Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) students, who had been in touch with one another through surprisingly vibrant Yahoo and Orkut groups, is planning to flex woman power.

IIT's female alumni from around the world met up at the PAN-IIT Global Conference 2006 in Mumbai on Sunday and vowed to address gender inequity at the IITs. As a first step, they are starting a mentoring programme for female students and alumni.

They plan to mentor girls on issues they could face in the professional sphere, how to proceed with research, how to strike the right balance between work and family life.

“The fact that there are not enough women in the IITs even today is a reflection of the inequality in society,” said Susheela Venkatraman, a business partner at IBM, Bangalore. She was one of just 11 girls in a batch of 250 when she graduated from IIT Delhi in 1981. A recent study in IIT, Bombay showed the number of women obtaining Bachelor of Technology degrees each year has ranged between 1.8 to 7.9 per cent.

Mita Brahma, who passed out of IIT, Delhi in 1977, is among 30-odd former female IIT-ians who have been in touch with one another through Yahoo groups. One such group calls itself the 'Kailash Gang’ after the girls’ hostel at IIT, Delhi.“We have seen the world and have a hundred years of experience between us. We want to do something for the girls at the IITs. We will use technology so that our programme is not restricted. Any female student or graduate of IIT in any part of the world should be able to contact us," she said.

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First Published: Dec 25, 2006 02:18 IST