In the current world, most have come to the realization that education is key when it
comes to improving lives. Therefore, nations need to invest in their education systems for the
sake of their economic success. The education system in India is known to be one of the top
three next to the US and China. The education system in this nation has improved quite
tremendously from the time they gained their independence. There seems to have also been a lot
of challenges that face the education system in India. This is especially true in the higher
education institutions. The female group was the most affected by the various challenges that
come with higher education, but in recent times, things seem to be taking a positive turn. Due to
the importance of India developing and maintaining a gender-specific pedagogy as well as
provide some flexible kind of educational system, the topic at hand needs to be addressed for the
creation of awareness and for the sake of finding solutions to the challenges presented. This
assignment is therefore focused on highlighting the various challenges in the higher education
system within India with special attention to the female group. This will be done by taking a look
at the past and the recent trend of women in the higher education system in India.
The paper is an examination of the women’s access to higher education in India, which
has been a concern over the years. The content has been drawn from a plethora of secondary data
that is accessed from various search engines. This was done by making use of key words such as
higher education, India, challenges, recent trends, and so forth. The main search engines were
Google scholar, Jstor, and Emerald Insight. The exclusion criteria were based on the
consideration of the authors, the time period relevant to the content, the reliability of data
provided, the credibility of the content present, and also contributions used within the content of
the sources. Many of the sources spoke of Asia in general, but this search was narrowed down to
India. The sources that focused on education from the primary level were also excluded, thereby
leaving those that spoke of the higher education only. Finally, only thirteen sources were found
to be credible enough and were therefore used for this assignment.
Critical opportunities are lost in the wake of developmental programs as well as policies
that fail to mitigate gender disparities within education systems. There is a substantial amount of
importance that should be placed on education for girls and women. This is not only on the
grounds of social justice but also due to the fact that for there to be any significant social change,
thi9s issue needs to be addressed. Even in settings where women are believed to expect women
to be domestic managers, education will enable this group to take care of the hygiene, nutrition,
education, and health of the whole family. Education is also something that allows women to
achieve a high level of empowerment with respect to their rights, choices, and abilities.
Profiling Gender Gap in the Indian Education
In the past, there has been a plethora of literature that has addressed the issue of the
gender gap in education. For instance, publications from the World Bank (1997), which maps the
route taken by primary organizations, Shukla and Kaul (1998) and Bhattacharya (1998), which
become more specific in looking at the status of the the Indian education, Ramchandaran (1998),
which focuses on the female education in South Asia and Haq and Haq(1998), who look at
development based on education in South Asia.
There have been various policy statements coupled with guidelines that have addressed
the issues of the gender gap through acknowledging the reasons for the existence of this
disparity. The existence of negative attitudes, discrimination of resources and amenities for the
female group in schools, lack of security within and without schools, the distance from how to
school, gender stereotyping, early marriages, fear of isolation, economic difficulties, and so forth
are among the many reasons for the hardship encountered by women in accessing higher
education in India.
The Indian higher education for the female group is thought to be one of the largest
globally. In 2009, the state had 20 universities, 17 state universities, and 5 institutions that
functioned under the state Act. There were other institutions that included 16000
colleges (Government Report, 2009).
However, it is noted that there was quite a gap in the access to higher education within
this nation. This is not the only nation that has created a social bridge which condition men as the
superior sex and the women as a second-hand sex. There are two primary statistics that can be
used to measure this disparity in India. For one, there is only 46.2 percent of women who enroll
in higher education, which is significantly lower than the male group. Additionally, only 24
percent of women from higher education gain access to the Indian labor force (Financial
Express, 2017). Moreover, the 24 percent who access the labor market are limited to reaching the
senior level management position and are paid 20percent less than their male counterparts (The
Economic Times, 2018).
Disciplinary Choices for women in higher education
So as to get a clear view of the challenge that women face in accessing higher education,
it is important to look at the disciplinary choices that they have. There is no direct relationship
between the availability of disciplinary choices for women and their ability to access these
choices. These two things are also not rely on the academic achievement of this female group.
The main reasons for the gender issue with disciplinary choices is due to the social ethics.
There is a large number of women who are limited to accessing their subjects of choice in
higher education due to the existence of patriarchy within the Indian social system(Still, 2017).
This means that their parents, especially the men or their guardians, are in charge of choosing the
course that the women should pursue within the higher education system. This is a decision that
is guided any their social and cultural beliefs and practice that propose that the female group
should not access work or earnings prior to being married. The Indian social and cultural belief is
that education is a fall-back plan for the women who are deserted by their husbands or become
widows (Chanana 1998). On top of this fact, even after the woman is married, the choice of
whether to work or not is directed to the groom’s family. This means that there is a good number
of women whose careers are not linked to their academic achievements.
In other cases, the women were their own enemies as they were limited to accessing the higher
education through their preconceived notions. Most of them did not believe that they could
balance the work and home life successfully as they assumed that the pressure from academic
achievement or career would disrupt their roles as expected by society. Through some research
by the National Committee on the Status of Women in India (1974), findings reveal that the
women sample had social attitudes, which made them lag behind in the educational front, closing
up many opportunities for them.
Akin to the above challenge is the financial one, which mostly affects the poor parents that have
a low-level income(Koker and Jentzsch 2013; Ahmad, 2017; Michalski, Cunningham, & Henry,
2017; Hasler, 2017). There are those among the poor parents that understand the value of
education for the girl-child. However, they lack the resources to provide the necessary higher
education for their children. The women that come from such backgrounds lack the necessary
role models, which affect their access to higher education. From all the above factors, women
and their families agreed on the choice of courses that are linked to humanities and arts as these
are the cheaper options for the women in higher education as well as being softer and shorter in
pursuing compared to other professional courses like STEM. However, in recent times, things
seem to have taken a turn for the best. The next section will look at the transformation that has
occurred for women in accessing higher education and in their choices.
There is a rapid growth globally. This is especially true for the higher education in
relation n to the female group. When it comes to the rate of attendance of the higher learning
institutions, nations like India have been able to put aside some of their social norms and cultural
beliefs so as to accommodate women empowerment through education. In some countries
around the world, women have outnumbered the men in enrolling for higher education. In India,
the education for women has now been seen to bring positive changes, especially to their
economy and development.
Reports by Sharma (2020) indicate that there is a significant rise in the women that have
currently enrolled for higher education in India. This is indicated by a 1,350 percent increase
from 2011. Between 201-11, there were 1.2 million women, and by 2018, the number had risen
to 17.4 million. This is a staggering increase that is facilitated by a plethora of things. However,
it is too early to celebrate as the number dwindles significantly when looked at from the job
market. Only 29 percent of women from the higher intuitions get to access the labor force of this
nation (Sharma, 2020). The use of GER to determine the number of students that actually get to
access the job market brings forth a credible ratio for this purpose. In 2020, the enrollment for
women in higher education was at 47.6 percent, while seven years ago, this rate was at 44
According to Olson-Strom and Rao (2020), there is some distinct feature that is noted
today in the Asian education system. There is an ongoing increase in women’s only universities.
These kinds of institutions give women a chance to deal with various barriers that have limited
their access to higher education. These institutions have given how to those women whose
families cannot allow them to get a decent education. It gives even the families the comfort of
understanding that these women are insecure areas as they study. This would eventually break
off the shackles tied to excuses for women not to attend higher education. The same institutions
would work to provide the most conducive environment for the women who blocked themselves
from thinking wider into accessing higher education based on the social norms that they
experience. There are studies whose findings indicate the potential of women from single-sex
universities being higher and that these women attain high grades in courses like business,
science, arts, and so forth. In turn, this trend is likely to create a generation of women leaders
within and without India.
However, as earlier mentioned, there are still some financial restrictions and quality
concerns that limit the women’s access to higher education. It is noted that even at the faculty
positions in the above mentioned single-sex institutions are mostly filled by men. This is
somewhat ironic as a representation of women in these positions is important for the sake of the
students getting to look up to their gender type.
Indeed, one may ask the reason why it is important to educate the female group in
society. The answer to this question lies in the fact that women make up a majority of the
world’s population. Far from the above imbalance within the higher education or the labor pool,
educating women, especially in the higher institutions, is quite important even just for their self-
esteem or confidence. It develops their critical and creative side helps them build a positive
image and so forth. Therefore, this means that education does much more than encourages more
participation in various development processes in a nation like India. Additionally, the education
independence is something that would bring added incentives for the female group, which would
then help in curbing the vicious cycle of traditional and negative stereotypes related to women.
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