The boom in engineering services, particularly the information technology (IT) services, is seeing more women take up engineering in Bengaluru, shows the recently released Census 2011 data.
With over 1.41 lakh women engineers — the highest in the country by a long margin — Bengaluru has more woman engineers than municipalities in New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.
While this forms a little more than 30 per cent of the total number of engineers in the city, a closer look at the data shows an increasing number of women joining the workforce. For instance, among engineers below the age of 35, the ratio of women goes up to 40 per cent, while, at an older age group (above 35 years), the ratio dips to just 18 per cent.
Compared to other engineering sectors, the IT sector hired more women, said T.V. Mohandas Pai, former member of board of Infosys.
This seems to correlate with the experience of educationists who said that compared to traditional engineering streams like mechanical and civil, a large number of women prefer to join IT and allied subjects.
On why the city continues to attract a staggering number of engineers, Mr. Pai said, “The scale of the IT sector is an advantage. Currently, over 1.5 lakh people, many of them engineers, are hired yearly in industries here.”
He added that Bengaluru continued to be the “most attractive” city, as it was more cosmopolitan than Kolkata and Chennai, and was cheaper than Mumbai for the younger generation. “Unlike in many cities, language is not an issue. Locals form the minority in the IT sector,” he said.
Similarly, J. Crasta, former president of the Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the continuing expansion of the city from IT and biotechnology to aerospace and defence, will spur the arrival of engineers here. “Yearly, around 4 lakh engineering students are produced from the State and neighbouring areas. For any one setting up industries, there is manpower and skilled labour base already present… but for the government, there needs to be a thrust towards ensuring all these engineers are absorbed,” he said.
‘Historical trend towards engineering’
The glut of engineering students in the city traces its roots to the decision by the erstwhile Mysuru Maharaja to turn Bengaluru into a science city, said Narendar Pani, professor, School of Social Sciences, National Institute of Advanced Studies.
“Science institutes and engineering colleges were set up nearly a century ago. This was the making of engineering manpower here, which eventually attracted public sector units in the 60s. When this stagnated and migration out of the city increased, the information technology revolution brought back the engineering focus,” he said.
Accompanying an explosion of engineering college is the decline in non-engineering colleges. “Those tending towards B.Sc., now sought a B.E. degree. And the large IT companies were ready to absorb them,” he said.
Unlike the national capital, where IT parks came with an accompanying residential infrastructure, or Mumbai, where rising costs see many techies living outside the city, Bengaluru continues to develop largely within its folds. “IT parks have developed in the fringes of the city, but most of the residents are still inside. The concentration of engineers is greater, and perhaps this is why it seems so large compared to Delhi or Mumbai,” said Mr. Pani.
Engineers in Bengaluru: 4.5 lakh
Men: 3.12 lakh
Women: 1.41 lakh
70 per cent of engineers aged below 34
Overall percentage of women: 30 per cent
Below 35 years: 40 per cent women
28 per cent of all graduates in the city hold engineering or technical degrees
Number of engineering colleges in the city: over 100
Number of students in colleges: 4.6 lakh
Number of students in vocational institutes: 1.61 lakh
Those unemployed or marginally employed with technical degrees: 43,118
Percentage below 35 years: 90
Percentage of women: 43