In a bid to know all about women psyche which could help them get jobs in the corporate world or in the social sector, more boys are enrolling themselves in women studies course at Panjab University(PU). For the academic session 2016-17, around 21 boys out of 32 have enrolled themselves for the course. “For the last couple of years, around 70 per cent students in the course are boys. There are several reasons why more and more boys are enrolling. One, its is interdisciplinary. Students from any stream can take up this course and admission is purely based on merit. Secondly, more professions, especially HR related jobs give preference to subjects like gender studies. Moreover, this should help boys see their mothers, sisters, daughters and most importantly life partners in a new light,” says Ameer Sultana, Chairperson, Women Studies department.
Reportedly, behaviour and over all attitude of boys towards girls have changed quite a lot. Dean Students Welfare (DSW) Emmanuel Nahar says, “My main duty is to ensure students’ welfare. Those pursuing women studies are facing less or no problems in mixing-up in the classrooms, cultural activities and team building exercises in the university. We have also used them in cases where gender tussle surfaced within the university for trivial reasons”.
Women studies centre started at PU in 1987 and from 2000 one could enroll themselves for PG diploma an M. Phil courses. Masters and Ph. D courses began in 2005. Popularity of this course has crossed borders and created awareness on this unique course which deals with ‘how, why and what women feel’ even in the interior villages of Punjab from where students hail. Aman, a resident of Bam village in Muktsar Sahib district, who is pursuing a PhD in this course, says, “My interest towards taking up this course grew when I saw gender discrimination in my house and in the society. I knew girls around me were capable, but they were not given chance to prove themselves. People used to mock at me when I initially took up this course. But now when they see me as a changed person, they have started changing the way they used to think.”
Similarly, Ravneet Kaur, a first year student in Masters in women studies says, “This course has set the things in motion. Boys are compelled to think of an answer. In one of the sessions we were discussing about honour killing. Many students belong to very orthodox culture and were advocating this heinous act. But after two hours of rigorous discussions, arguments and debates, they finally understood that it is totally uncalled for.”
Career aspects of this course are also bright for boys. Sanjeev Gulati, who had enrolled in the course and now works as a state project coordinator with Department of Social Welfare and Child development, UT, says, “I was the first boy to complete my Masters in this course from PU. I even got two UGC-funded projects to work on with the help of this degree. This course helped me a great deal in my profession. Whenever I am called to deliver a lecture at state or even national level, I have all the stats to prove my point.”