A meeting of the joint admission board of IITs recommended an increase of 600 seats – a hike of 14% — in the number of seats allotted to women, taking the total quota to 1,440 seats.
Officials, however, said the exact number could vary and will be decided on a year to year basis.
The committee also recommended awarding merit scholarships regardless of parental income to all female students based on merit. However, this has to be approved by the IIT council.
The quota increase will be from the “supernumerary” or excess seats, in the IITs, a senior HRD official said. The quota will be increased every academic year from 2018 till the number of female students touched 20%.
Currently, women make up just 8% of the student strength at 23 IITs across the country.
The increase won’t affect the existing number of seats for male candidates and the changes will be implemented over a maximum of eight years.
“The 20% supernumerary seats will be filled by female candidates who have cleared JEE-Advanced…so merit is followed,” said another official.
A sub-committee under the chairmanship of professor Timothy Gonsalves was formed to find ways to rectify the situation in the institutes.
It was learnt that there was a 2% dip in the number of girls who cleared JEE-Advanced in 2016 compared to 2015.
While more than 1,000 women cracked the examination — roughly 10% of the total 10,000 seats — in 2015, approximately 840 made it to the institutes in 2016-17.
“The number of seats for male candidates will not be affected and this will help IITs achieve the target by 2020. Also, only candidates who have already qualified in JEE-Advanced will be considered,” an official added.
The IITs are among India’s best institutes and regularly ranked high in global surveys but are plagued by a paltry number of women students, seen as the Indian’s society’s belief that men are more suited for technical jobs.
“Due to societal preferences and biases in India, by and large, it is the sons who are sent for coaching rather than equally talented daughters. Holding traditional, paternalistic views, parents may believe that they are acting in the best interests of the girls, that they are protecting them from a hostile society that they are preparing them for a suitable feminine role in life,” a recent report said.
Besides, the admissions panel also decided that all candidates will get seven rounds of counselling, two more than the present number.