Less women in B-schools: Kochhar blames focus on QA in tests

Mumbai: ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar today blamed excessive focus on quantitative aptitude (QA) in entrance tests for lower representation of girls in business schools, and stressed on need for the exams to be “all rounded”.

“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,” Kochhar, the managing director and chief executive of the country’s largest private sector lender, said in a speech.

Kochhar, who herself went to a b-school before joining the bank, said girls constitute only 10-15 per cent of the b-school students at present.

She also questioned need for so much focus on QA, saying a course on developing general managerial abilities does not require so much of focus.

“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 orineted, do you not need entrance examinations which are more all round?” she said.

A majority of reputed institutes holding MBA tests focus on QA, data interpretation, logical reasoning and verbal ability while selecting students. QA includes topics considered tedious like trignometry, quadratic equations, logarithm etc.

Kochhar also stressed on the need to make workplaces more diverse, saying a business can deliver better results with more percentage of women. Also, with half of the consumers being women, there is a need for businesses to have more women to understand the consumer better, she said.

On representation of women, she said that we have come a long way in her 30 years in corporate world and added that today women-headed banks account for 35 per cent of the overall assets in the system.

She also rued that over 80 per cent of ‘workforce-ready’ women are not joining the organised sector, and exhorted women to believe in themselves and be ready to put in long hours and travel if the work demands.

Kochhar, however, sought to underplay the impact of careers on personal lives, saying women can maintain work-life balance even while pursuing their careers.

Flagging the fledgling e-commerce sector as an area of opportunities, she said there are opportunities of “cottage entrepreneurship” like made-to-order meals, handicrafts etc which women can capitalise on.

To address the difficulty around safety and security, Kochhar said the bank has created a mobile application in-house which also has a ‘panic’ button.

The application was being used for employees itself and Kochhar today announced that it will be made available for all the companies in the country for the safety of their women employees.