The number of women participating in STEM tertiary (bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral) programs in India has changed over the years. According to the All India Survey on Higher Education, the number of women enrolled in the sciences has increased from 2.6 million in 2016-2017 academic year to 2.9 million in the 2020-2021 academic year. Overall, women make up 52 percent of those enrolled in science disciplines. However, the number of students enrolling in engineering and technology programs has decreased from 1.2 million in the 2016-2017 academic year to 1.1 million in the 2020-2021 academic year. According to the latest All India Survey on Higher Education statistics, women comprise 29 percent of the total number of students enrolled in tertiary engineering and technology programs.
Undergraduate Engineering and Technology Education
In the last eight years, the total number of students enrolled in engineering and technology majors in India has declined. In terms of representation, mechanical engineering is one of the most popular undergraduate disciplines, yet women are significantly underrepresented in this profession, with only 6.7 percent of students identifying as female. This tendency is also reflected in the number of graduates: in the 2020-2021 academic year, just 5.8 percent of mechanical engineering degrees were awarded to women. Electronics engineering, computer engineering, and information technology enroll the most women, accounting for 40.2 percent, 36.1 percent, and 30.8 percent, respectively. Women receive a similar proportion of bachelor’s degrees in these three fields.
Graduate Engineering and Technology Education
At the graduate level, the enrollment of women in doctorate engineering and technology disciplines for the 2020-2021 academic year is comparable to that in undergraduate engineering and technology disciplines. Women, for example, continue to be underrepresented among students pursuing doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering, accounting for only 9.2 percent of these participants. Other engineering and technology disciplines have the highest number of women (6,088) enrolling in doctoral programs. Women in mechanical engineering have the lowest representation (8.9 percent) of all engineering disciplines for graduate degrees conferred in the 2020-2021 academic year. However, they are considerably more underrepresented among aeronautical engineering graduates, where only 8.7 percent of students identify as female. Alternatively, women got the highest percentage of graduate degrees in information technology, computer engineering, and electronic engineering, with 38.8 percent, 35.4 percent, and 34.1 percent, respectively.
- All India Council for Technical Education (2023). Enrollment (Gender & Category wise) chart.
- Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), (2021). All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE), 2020-21. New Delhi, India: Government of India, Department of Higher Education.