As the summer rolls along, 12th grade students all over India are frantically engaged in the race to enter a prestigious college. The JEE Mains feature prominently in the dreams, or more accurately, nightmares of students who wish to take up engineering in one of the IIT’s. After the release of the results, it has been found that among the students who appeared for the JEE Mains, 72.2% were boys and 27.8% were girls. Of the number of candidates who cleared the exam, 79.2% are boys and 20.8% are girls.
Vrunda Rathi, the topper among girls, has an all-India-rank of 71, scoring 341 out of 360. Which means 70 males precede the girl who secured the maximum marks among the students of her sex. It is also interesting to note that 3 transgender candidates appeared for the exam, and none cleared it.
From the statistics, it is very clear that among the upcoming youth, males see engineering as a viable option considerably more than the females. The girl who scored the highest marks ranks 71st, but this is not a case of girls being intellectually inferior to boys. This phenomenon owes its occurrence in part to the perceived difference in the abilities and priority of both the genders. Girls are steadfastly warned away from any job that might test them physically. Most of the professions that they are suggested involves some kind of a desk job. This is manifestly meant to aid their comfort when they have progeny, and to support their wishes to prioritise their duties towards their household. It is assumed that the woman in question shall put her child and household above her career. Rather, there isn’t any leeway for her to even choose whether she wants to have a baby.
A lady in the apartment complex I lived in as a child had a baby, and chose to go back to work within a month of the baby’s coming. Everyone inhabiting the complex believed they had the right to judge her, shame her, and whisper disapprovingly among themselves about her choice. She was reproved a great deal, and her morality and affection for her child were questioned. Her husband on the other hand, faced not a word of criticism for joining work the very day after his daughter’s birth. But that doesn’t place men in the better position, because it is assumed men do not need to be at home for a newly born child. They cannot choose to take leave and decide to contribute to the child’s care. For a man’s purpose, the logistics are considered, and for the woman’s, emotion is to drive her. And both are a weapon of oppression.
As a child, this the libelling and the judgement didn’t appear very wrong to me. But after a decade and an introduction to feminism, this behaviour appears vastly unjust. Women must be allowed to set their own priorities, which isn’t very much amiss when done by men.
By Halak Pandya.
Halak is an undergraduate student pursuing literature. She aspires to be a writer. Halak also holds a Master Diploma in Bharatnatyam and a Black belt in Taekwondo. She describes herself as a luftmensch.