A revolution is taking place in the field of higher education in Kerala, with girls outnumbering boys in both general and professional courses.
However, this is yet to translate into an equal labour force participation rate (LFPR), with only 26 per cent of Kerala women attending the workplace, according to the Kerala Economic Review 2021, tabled in the Assembly a few days ago.
To take one example, more than 80 per cent of students in health and allied courses are girls. The Economic Review says this is an “indication” that in the coming years more than 60 per cent of doctors in the state will be women. In reality, a significant number of qualified female doctors may not have the opportunity or inclination to practise. The same is true in the fields of agriculture, veterinary science, and fisheries and ocean science.
Check out these numbers:
- Girls outnumber boys in higher education — both in arts and science courses and in professional courses.
- Around 68 per cent of B.Sc students in Kerala are girls. BA, 64 per cent. In B.Com, the ratio is 63:37.
- Girls occupy 66 per cent of MBBS seats, 86 per cent of dental science seats, 87 per cent of homeopathy and 88 per cent of Ayurveda seats.
- In Kerala Agriculture University, 77 per cent of undergraduate students are girls. At the postgraduate level, the ratio is 75:25.
- In Kerala Veterinary and Animal Science University, 61 per cent of undergraduate students and 71 per cent of postgraduate students are girls.
- In Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies, girls occupy 75 per cent of graduate courses and 78 per cent of postgraduate courses.
Engineering remains the only field where the boys are in majority. They hold 58 per cent of the 47,000 seats across 175 engineering colleges. Yet, when it comes to pass percentage, girls hold the upper hand. In 2021, 70 per cent of the girls successfully completed B.Tech. The figure for boys was only 48 per cent. This is also reflected at the postgraduate level. Around 1,700 students were admitted to government and aided engineering colleges for postgraduate courses in 2020-21. Sixty-seven per cent of them were girls.
Since universalisation of primary education is almost complete in Kerala, there is little gender gap at that level. However, more boys drop out after the primary level in greater numbers, data show. When it comes to higher secondary level, girls are in a slight majority. The survey does not indicate what the boys opt for once they drop out of school.
At 72 per cent, women outnumber men in the teaching profession as well.
Labour force participation
Coming back to labour force participation, the Economic Review states that, at 26 per cent, Kerala’s figures are higher than the national average (23 per cent). Among men, the figure is 56 per cent. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) confirms the poor level of employment participation among women.
According to the 2019-20 survey, only 26 per cent of people who were employed and paid in cash (for the last 12 months of the survey) were women. It was 20 per cent in 2015-16.
The Economic Review of 2021 also shows that there is a gradual increase in the labour participation of women.