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Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi is among the few distinguished women alumni of IIM Calcutta. Photo: Bloomberg
Former PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi is among the few distinguished women alumni of IIM Calcutta. Photo: Bloomberg

IIMs are trying to produce more Indra Nooyis

At IIM Calcutta, Indra Nooyi's 1976 batch had only 5 girl students out of 100. In 2018, the ratio has jumped to 27% after a series of steps taken by the IIMs.

New Delhi:When Indra Nooyi, who retired as PepsiCo CEO yesterday, was doing her MBA from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta in 1976, her classroom was so heavily dominated by men that women comprised only about 5% of students.

“They couldn’t take more because there were only so many dorm rooms built for women. We talk about glass ceilings today, but back then, women were still limited by the number of walls," Indra Nooyi had said while recalling her student days during a visit to her alma mater in 2015.

Naturally, the list of distinguished alumni of IIM-C and those of other IIMs have more men than women.

Things could be changing in the next few years as the premier management institutes are gradually trying to change things with a series of measures.

Although it is still a long way to go, IIM Calcutta is now half-way through maintaining a dream-like 50:50 gender ratio. In the current batch, IIM-C has about 27% women students with most its peers, including IIM Ahmedabad and IIM Bangalore, in the same range.

Between 2015 and 2017, the admission of girl students has gone up by more than 30% at IIMs, according to data from the Union ministry of human resource development.

Over the years, IIMs have worked hard to build admission policies that favour women and encourage gender diversity on campus.

While shortlisting candidates for personal interview (PI) and written ability test (WAT), IIM Calcutta grants 2 extra points to female candidates.

From this year, IIM Calcutta has started a new student interest group – “Women in Business" – to bring together business women from different backgrounds on a single platform for personal and professional growth through leadership, education and networking.

All IIMs are also encouraging students from non-engineering backgrounds by changing the type of questions being asked in the CAT exams and even giving extra marks to students from the arts and commerce backgrounds. The academic diversity indirectly leads to gender diversity.

The admission process can hardly be blamed for the poor gender ratio across all IIMs as the Common Admission Test (CAT) has never been biased against the fairer sex. The dominance of engineering students in IIM classrooms could be the single largest factor in the skewed gender ratio.

Also read: Indra Nooyi on life after PepsiCo: No politics, family is priority

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