Alarming Data: Girls Lag Behind In Govt’s Science Scholarship

New Delhi | Updated: 17 September, 2022 3:03 pm IST

It is a telling trend that will make you sit up and take notice.

There is a yawning male-female student gap when it comes to availing government-funded science scholarships under the INSPIRE-MANAK scheme which is given to children in classes 6-10 with creative and innovative ideas, indicates an analysis of government data.

The data, published by the Ministry of Science and Technology, reveal that the gap widens as the children graduate to higher classes.

The INSPIRE-MANAK awards are given to students in the age group of 10-15 years.

As per the analysis carried out by The New Indian, the male-female gap among science students of class 7 stands at 586. The difference grows to nearly 6,000 in class 10.

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In the last four years, 18,882 male and 18,296 female students of class 7 received awards under the INSPIRE-MANAK scheme. In class 10, 24,649 male and 18,730 female students of class 10 received awards in the same period.

As many as 25,649 out of 48,619 beneficiaries of class 8 were male, 2,679 more than their female counterparts.

A total of 47,016 awards were given to students of class 9 between 2019 and 2022. Out of this, 25,812 males and 21,204 females (a gap of 4,608) benefitted from the scheme.

In class 10, 5,919 more male students as compared to females received the award. As many as 24,649 males and 18,730 female students were among the beneficiaries across the country during this time period.

The only silver lining is that the number of female students of class 6 who received the award in the last four years is higher in comparison to their male peers, said Akhilesh Jha, head of the Data & Strategy Unit of the Department of Science and Technology (DST). A total of 11,009 girls of class 6 received the award, 51 more than their male counterparts, he added.

Experts blame the lack of awareness and discriminatory attitudes of parents towards female students for the widening bridge.

“Sometimes there are compulsions and family responsibilities which girls might have to share with their mothers, forcing them out of regular studies. Some girls also might be unable to pursue science subjects due to economic reasons,” said Prof. Azra Musavi, Director of Advanced Centre for Women’s Studies at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

“As per government data, the number of female STEM students in undergraduate classes is higher than males, which rubbishes any possible speculations about the low interest among girls towards science subjects,” she added.

In the last four years, students of Karnataka constituted the largest number of beneficiaries while Madhya Pradesh was the worst performer. Karnataka bagged 29,439 awards and Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s state got just one award at par with a tiny state like Nagaland. Interestingly, both states are ruled by the BJP.

Surprisingly, girl students fared better than males in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana among major states.

The startling figures are part of the database of the DST. The database was launched by Minister of State for Science and Technology, Dr Jitendra Singh on Thursday.

The INSPIRE-MANAK awards are given in order to “target one million original ideas/innovations rooted in science and societal applications to foster a culture of creativity and innovative thinking among schoolchildren”.

Under this scheme, government and private schools can nominate the five best original ideas/innovations by students. If selected, students get monetary support of Rs 10,000 to further work on developing the project.

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