Contrary to common perception, the teaching profession employs more men than women. Even though the profession continues to be preferred amongst women given that both school and college-level teacher eligibility examinations — TET and UGC-NET — have more female applicants, it is the males who are getting more jobs as teachers across designations than women.
India has 2,05,339 more male teachers than females, according to the Higher Education report 2017-18. Of the total 12,84,755 teachers across India, 57.99 per cent are males. The gender gap becomes wider as we move higher up the hierarchy, according to the data from the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development. The gender gap is, however, marginal in case of contractual jobs.
While more men tend to hold higher positions, including that of associate professors and professors, when it comes to tutoring jobs, the number of women is double than that of men, according to the HRD data.
Poor NET performance
One of the reasons behind men getting more permanent positions is the comparatively poor performance of women in teacher eligibility exams. The National Eligibility Test (NET) is a prerequisite for securing an assistant professor post. Despite more applications, the number of women clearing NET is way lesser than men.
As per data provided by the National Testing Agency (NTA) that conducts the NET, in June 2019, the number of female applicants was nearly one lakh (93419) more than that of males, yet 3,975 more males qualified for the professorship exam. In NTA’s UGC NET December 2018, the number of males was 1,07,632 less than that of females, yet 637 more males cleared the exam.
Kalpesh Banker, managing partner, Edushine – an education recruitment firm which conducts several studies on gender inequality in hiring in education institutes said, “The age bracket of candidates eligible to appear for UGC NET falls under 25 to 32 years and as per the social norms, this is considered a marriageable age for women. These social constraints often lead to poorer performance of women due to the lack of support and lack of proper environment to study.”
He added, “To perform well in competitive exams, candidates need coaching, a complete ecosystem including investment etc. Even today, parents would invest more in boys than in girls. Women would prefer closer-to-home coaching at times at the cost of quality of education. These factors affect their performance.”
Among those who qualify, the higher positions and promotions are devoted to men more in Indian higher education institutes. According to a Gender Inequality Index (GII) report by Edushine Advisory Group in 2005, only 6.67% of Indian educational institutes were headed by women (54 out of 810) and in 2018, the number further dropped to 6.25 per cent as 63 institutes out of 1008 universities were headed by females.
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The education recruitment firm is working on its third report which will dwell on reasons behind a lesser number of women taking up higher-up roles in academia. “While the study to find out reasons behind fewer women in leadership roles is still going on, based on my understanding so far I have observed that the notion of leadership is still masculine in India, including in educational institutes,” said Banker.
“Also, most of the private institutes are family-managed who prefer their male heirs to take over the task,” he added.
Hidden biases in the hiring process
Former UGC member MM Ansari told indianexpress.com that there are latent biases in the hiring process in Indian educational institutes. “There are 30-40 per cent seats vacant in university across India even those who are eligible are not hired citing lack of resources leading to ad hoc (temporary) hiring. More and more institutes are adopting this model of recruitment,” he said. It is to be noted that at the ad-hoc level, the number of males and females are at par.
Ansari added, “While hiring permanent faculty, women have to face questions such as when are you getting married or planning to have children. In the case of women who have children, it is assumed that they would devote lesser time to work or might not be available at odd hours when needed. A permanent female teacher would have more benefits, such as maternity leave etc as compared to men, which are a matter of consideration for recruiters. Though it is not accepted openly, prejudices based on social structure play an important role while hiring and promoting women.”
He mentioned that due to the transferable job of their spouse, marriage and family responsibilities, working and capable women often themselves tend to bypass promotions.
States with most and least female teachers
The scene is worst in Bihar and Jharkhand where only 20.93 per cent and 29.87 per cent of teachers are females, respectively. Male candidates also dominate teaching in Maharashtra (39.76 per cent females), Odisha (35.77 per cent females), Telangana (38.38%), UP (32.84 per cent) and West Bengal (34.58 per cent).
A reverse trend is shown in Dadara and Nagar Haveli where 96 per cent of its 205 teachers are females. In Kerala (60.91 per cent), Chandigarh (58.62 per cent) and Delhi (56.17 per cent) teachers are females. Goa, Haryana and Punjab also have 54.97 per cent, 52.38 per cent and 55.45 per cent female teachers.