Gender gap in education

  • IASbaba
  • February 1, 2023
  • 0
Social Issues
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  • Crucial gains made in closing the gender gap across different undergraduate programmes suffered a setback in the pandemic year, according to the latest All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) released by the Education Ministry on Sunday.
  • The number of women for every 100 men enrolled across different Bachelor’s programmes dropped in the academic year 2020-21.
  • For instance, a year after the gender gap in BCom closed in 2019 — there were as many women as there were male students — the AISHE report for 2020-2021 showed that this gain was lost in the subsequent year that was marred by large-scale disruptions due to the pandemic.

Positive Findings

  • GER is a statistical measure to determine the number of students enrolled in undergraduate, postgraduate and research-level studies within the country and is expressed as a percentage of the population in the 18-23 years age group.
  • The GER for women is more than the GER for men – a trend that has been on since 2017-18.
  • Gender Parity Index (GPI), the ratio of female GER to male GER, has increased from 1 in 2017-2018 to 1.05 in 2020-21.
  • At the postgraduate level, the only programme which has seen a hike in the number of women per 100 men is MCom – from 186 women in 2019 to 198 in 2020-21.

Negative Findings

  • From 100 women per 100 men who registered for the BCom programme in 2019, the enrollment for women fell to 94 for every 100 men in 2020 — a dip that takes the enrollment figures closer to what it was in 2016 (93 women per 100 male students).
  • Similar drops were witnessed in other programmes too, including medicine where, from 110 women for every 100 men in MBBS in 2019-20, there are now 100 women in 2020-21.
  • Other undergraduate programmes such as pharmacy, which came close to plugging the gender gap in 2019 — 93 women for 100 men — saw a drastic drop to 66 women in 2020-21.
  • Undergraduate programmes such as nursing and education, which have traditionally had more women participation, also witnessed a significant fall in numbers for women – from 385 in nursing and 215 in education (for every 100 men) in 2019-20, to 308 and 185 women, respectively, in 2020-21.
  • The gender gap in undergraduate programmes such as computer science, business administration, pharmacy, technology and law – which have always had a gender skew in favour of men – continues to be large.
  • According to the latest survey, the total student enrollment in higher education went up from 3.85 crore in 2019 to about 4.13 crore in 2020-21, an increase of nearly 29 lakh. Out of the total enrolled, 51.3% or 2.12 crore are male and 48.7% are women.
  • Overall, the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in higher education for the age group of 18 to 23 years is 27.3% as against 25.6 % in 2019-20.
  • At the postgraduate level, too, the number of women pursuing business administration, science, technology and commerce has gone down in 2020-21 as compared to 2019-2020.
  • Programmes like business administration and technology at the post-graduation level continue to be male bastions.
  • During 2020-21, the number of universities increased by 70 and the number of colleges increased by 1,453.

Significance of gender-balanced education

  • Gender-equitable education systems can contribute to reductions in school-related gender-based violence and harmful practices, including child marriage and female genital mutilation.
  • Education increases the likelihood that women will look after their own wellbeing along with that of their family.
  • Educated women in rural areas are more likely to participate in decision-making and are less likely to suffer from domestic violence.
  • Education gives women access to better economic opportunities, provides empowerment and enables women to have control over their lives and exert influence in society.
  • Each extra year of a mother’s schooling reduces the probability of infant mortality by 5-10 per cent.


  • Poverty means women and girls in many parts of the world are still forced to spend hours a day doing chores, fetching water and caring for relatives and boys sent over girls with limited funds
  • Gender gap widens with progressive levels of education owing to greater barriers to schooling that girls face due to social norms and deeply ingrained gender stereotypes correlated with biological factors such as adolescence
  • A tradition and culture of not valuing girls education
  • Cultural notions about careers appropriate for women have traditionally held back their mobility
  • Unsafe roads leading to schools, lack of sanitation facilities like toilets with running water in schools
  • Lack of security in schools: Dramatically highlighted by Malala Yousafzai, shot by the Taliban on her way to school for speaking out about education rights, and the kidnapping this year of 276 school girls by the militant Islamist movement Boko Haram and the resulting Bring Back Our Girls campaign.
  • Sexual violence and discrimination and are not allowed to continue school if they become pregnant or forced into child marriage.
  • Lack of a regulatory framework, inadequate funding, poor quality and no legislation for universal access to early childhood education continue to serve as bottlenecks in India.
  • Lack of female role models


  • Gender-transformative education in early childhood and gender equity is a guiding principle in the National Curriculum Framework.
  • A multifaceted approach to creating gender-equal environments, an approach that includes policies and practices that help fathers be equal caregivers to their children, gender-equal programmes in schools and communities, and lots of fun, gender equal content for children.
  • The WEF looked at four major verticals to assess gender gap in a country — economic participation, political participation, health and education levels.
  • Longitudinal studies estimate that every dollar invested in ECE yields over a thousand dollars in return, proving that benefits outweigh costs by an incredible margin.
  • The foundations for a right education must thus be established, not just by ensuring universal enrolment in early childhood education but by also focusing on how preschools impart an education that eliminates gender stereotypes and therefore, erases the gender gap.

Government schemes

  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao – is a central government scheme that saves the girl child from social problems such as gender-based abortions and advance child education around the country.
  • Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana –  is a Government of India backed savings scheme designed for parents of girl children – to set up a trust for their child’s eventual schooling and marriage expenses.
  • CBSE Udaan scheme for girls is implemented by the Central Board of Secondary Education, under the Ministry of Human Resources Development – to increase the student enrolment of girls in prestigious engineering and technical colleges across India.
  • National Scheme of Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education – is a pan India scheme operated by the Department of Education and Education – for the benefit of girls in the disadvantaged classes of India.
  • Once a qualifying student has been chosen, Rs. 3000 will be deposited as a fixed deposit on her behalf. This balance can be withdrawn with interest after the pupil has passed the class 10 exam and has reached the age of 18 years.

Way forward

  • Thirteen per cent of India’s population is between 0- 6 years old. If these children are exposed to gender-equal environments, they can potentially bring about significant change.
  • Amartya Sen maintains that “if we continue to leave vast sections of the people of the world outside the orbit of education, we make the world not only less just, but also less secure”.

Source: Indian express


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