Maths keep women away from MBA: Chanda Kochhar

Maths keep women away from MBA: Chanda Kochhar

ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar has blamed the excessive focus on quantitative aptitude for the low representation of women in management.

Are women genetically wired to underperform in Maths? Former US treasury secretary and Harvard University president Lawrence Summers kicked up a storm a decade back when he suggested that the shortage of women in science and engineering could be explained by a difference in mathematical ability. The controversy that followed contributed to Summers’ exit from Harvard.

Now, ICICI Bank CEO Chanda Kochhar has blamed the excessive focus on quantitative aptitude for the low representation of women in management. Speaking at a CII summit on human resources, Kochhar said, “The MBA entrance exams are so quantitative-oriented that it keeps out more and more women from joining the MBA classes. If we were to make the entrance exams more all-rounded you could see more participation.”

“If there is a course that is quant-oriented, you need to focus on that but if it is a course that is more general management oriented, do you not need entrance examinations which are more all-round?” she added.

According to Kochhar, after recruiting women, it is also important to provide an environment for them to grow. “A very important ingredient of this is to create a merit-based, gender-neutral work environment,” she said.

She said ICICI Bank has managed to nurture many women executives through enabling policies like longer maternity leave, child care leave, work from home and sabbaticals. “There is a need to make the work environment as conducive as possible, when women start their families and child bearing. Special interest should be taken during that period to ensure they do not fall off from the working population at that stage,” she said.

On the issue of safety, Kochhar said the bank has developed an app exclusively to ensure safety and security of their employees, called I-TravelSafe which was so effective that the bank has decided to rename it TravelSafe and open it up for all. “Now any company across India can use this app for securing their employees on travel from home to office and back,” she added.
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