IIMs may see better gender mix, greater discipline diversity in new batch

IIM Ahmedabad
Following the rise in academic and gender diversity among Common Admission Test (CAT) takers, the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) may see increased diversity in the incoming batch for 2018-2020 this year. To achieve this, the premier B-schools have been according weightage in the pre-interview screening and shortlisting process to enhance gender and discipline mix.

For instance, according to IIM Ahmedabad's admissions office, the increasing discipline diversity is due to its admission policy, which gives interview calls to candidates from various academic disciplines based on their academic performances, subject to clearing certain CAT cut-offs.

"This is being done with the conscious effort to improve the in-class experience of the students, who we believe would benefit from being in a class with people from diverse backgrounds. However, we do not have any quota for women. The improvement in gender diversity is partly because of the conscious effort of the CAT committee to make it friendly towards women and also, perhaps, because women are getting more interested in management education," it stated.

However, this year, the rise in diversity has been accentuated by the entrance test results where top 20 list of candidates scoring 100 percentile contained two female candidates and three non-engineers as against all top 20 in CAT 2016 being male and engineers, as per IIM Lucknow, which convened CAT 2017.

As per IIM-A, earlier CAT had an overly quantitative focus, which gave an edge to students from certain backgrounds, who had no connection with the field of management. As a result, more deserving candidates, in terms of potential to stand out in the field of management, lost out.

"A by-product of that section of candidates selected had no interest in our curriculum, which has changed a lot over time and has become less quant-focused. As a result, many IIMs started reducing weight on CAT to address this issue. We have now tried to rectify this anomaly. If you look at the CAT results this year, a lot of non-engineers have done well. So I'd say that it has been a welcome decision to make CAT less quant-focused. However, this is an evolving process, and some more changes may be seen in the coming years," said IIM-A's admissions office.

Coupled with efforts made by the premier institutes in their admission process, CAT 2017 outcome may result in further diversity at IIM campuses this year. IIMs have already been granting increased weightage during the shortlisting process

For instance, IIM Kozhikode (IIM-K) has been giving weightage for gender diversity and academic diversity in the initial shortlisting stage over the past 4-5 years so that more female/non-engineering candidates get an opportunity to appear for interviews.

As a result, says Sony Thomas, PGP Admissions Chair at IIM-K, the current batch of 2017-2019 has students from 24 states, 37 per cent of the batch from IITs/NITs/Central Universities, and 69 per cent of the students with prior work experience.

"Last year women and non-engineers made up 26 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively. This year the percentage of women has risen to 29 and non-engineers make up 15 per cent," said Thomas.

Similarly, at 31 per cent, IIM Calcutta had last year posted its highest share of female candidates in its 462-strong batch. As against 16.5 per cent in the previous batch of 2016-18, IIM-C saw the share of female candidates rise to 31 per cent or 145 students in 2017-19 batch, its highest ever.

IIM Kozhikode has been following a three0stage process where it has been giving five per cent weightage for gender diversity and academic diversity in the initial shortlisting stage, so that an increased number of non-engineers and female candidates get an opportunity to appear for interviews, said Thomas. "We have not made any changes this year. We have been getting a good mix of candidates over the past few years with the existing admissions policy."

Last year, IIM Bangalore too had seen ratio of commerce students bagging seats at IIM-B rise from six per cent in the previous batch to eight per cent, while in terms of work experience, from 76 per cent last year, IIM- B saw the same rise to 80 per cent of batch having work experience, averaging around 30 months.