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CLAT 2015: Why did girls do MUCH worse than boys this year? [Via Mint: Download full source #data]

Graphic by: Ahmad Raza Khan (Mint)
Graphic by: Ahmad Raza Khan (Mint)
Only 45.4% of national law school aspirants taking the Common Law Admission Test in 2015 were women, and only 37% scored in the top 500 ranks. Why?

Statistics collated from the official Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) results of 37,358 candidates— which were released on Friday—show that only 45.4% of national law school aspirants taking CLAT in 2015 were women.

That’s nearly two percentage points lower than the national gender ratio, but even that figure looks positively healthy when compared with how many women law students are from states that have the most skewed gender ratios in India.

From Haryana, the state that has India’s most lopsided sex ratio of 44%, only 37% of CLAT aspirants were women. Rajasthan and Bihar fare almost as badly—just under 40% of national law school applicants from the two states were women, compared to local gender averages of around 46%.

Uttar Pradesh also slips in at just below average at 42%.

However, on the bright side, a larger number of states are sending a greater proportion of women to law school than their gender ratios would suggest.

In Kerala, where the gender ratio at 54.2% is sterling by any measure, nearly 56% of CLAT aspirants were women.

Downstream performance imbalance (full table below)

Although there are nearly as many women as men sitting for CLAT these days, women did not perform as well in the test as men, according to the numbers.

On average, female candidates only make up 37% of the top 500 CLAT rankers this year, which is 8 percentage points less than their representation in CLAT would suggest.

Amongst the larger states, the situation is worst in Gujarat, where only 11% of the state’s top 500 rankers were women – that 37 percentage points lower than its female ratio of 48% in the CLAT overall.

There was only a single woman out of 6 top 500 candidates from Jharkhand (17%), which is 37 points below its 54% female participation in the CLAT this year.

The picture is similar in other states: 18% of its top 500 performers in the CLAT were from Bihar (2 women out of 11 total in the top 500), and 29% in Rajasthan – all significantly lower (respectively by 37, 21 and 10 percentage points) than even their low female participation in the CLAT would dictate.

Haryana, which has one of India’s worst sex ratios, marginally ahead of Delhi, performed in line with the national average, with 37 per cent of its candidates in the top 500 being women.

Reasons

The question of why this is the case is not easy to pin down.

Shamnad Basheer, a former law professor and founder of Increasing Diversity by Increasing Access, a non-governmental organization, said research done by them in 2011 and 2013 showed that at the top five national law schools, the male-to-female gender ratios were pretty much 50:50, or even slightly more women than men.

In the 2014 CLAT allotment list of test-takers to colleges, 46% of the top 500 ranks were achieved by women, according to an analysis by Legally India, with similar top 500 ratios in 2013, 2012 and 2010 (see chart).

It is unclear why this year’s CLAT, at 37% women in the top 500, has such a skewed balance, and this bears further investigation, said Basheer.

CLAT aspirants tend to come from similar, middle- to upper-middle class socio-economic backgrounds, overwhelmingly from urban environments, so it would be unlikely that sons and daughters would receive different levels of education at a pre-college level, Basheer said.

One answer could be inherent in the nature of the CLAT and other multiple choice tests, which seem to have a tendency to disadvantage female students.

Several studies and statistics in the USA about the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) college admissions and other standardised tests have found that women consistently scored less highly on the SAT, particularly on sections such as mathematics, despite women's generally stronger academic performance.

The statistics relating to the CLAT scores and gender do suggest that further research is required to ensure that the CLAT can be a filter of excellence that ensures that law schools and the legal profession in turn get the talent they deserve.

A version of this article was first published in Mint. Mint’s association with LegallyIndia.com will bring you regular insight and analysis of major developments in law and the legal world.

Also read

The data: Percentage of female CLAT takers per state & in the top 500 (click top row of table to sort)

State Total CLAT takers A: Female CLAT takers (% of total) B: Gender ratio in state (% women) Divergence in CLAT women from state (percentage points A - B) C: Female candidates amongst top 500 CLAT scorers (%) Divergence in top 500 from total candidates (percentage points C - B)
Himachal Pradesh 300 37.0 48.7 -11.7 N/a N/a
Haryana 2425 37.1 43.9 -6.7 37 0
Rajasthan 3757 39.7 46.3 -6.6 29 -11
Bihar 2432 39.4 45.8 -6.4 18 -21
Tamil Nadu 1081 45.5 49.8 -4.2 40 -6
Nagaland 21 42.9 46.6 -3.7 N/a N/a
Uttar Pradesh 7981 41.8 45.4 -3.6 38 -4
TOTAL / AVERAGE 37358 45.4 47.0 -1.6 37 -9
Andhra Pradesh 330 48.2 49.7 -1.5 50 2
Chhattisgarh 1013 48.7 49.6 -0.9 75 26
Punjab 1368 44.0 44.7 -0.6 33 -11
Uttarakhand 781 47.8 48.2 -0.4 25 -23
Jammu and Kashmir 153 43.8 44.2 -0.4 N/a N/a
Chandigarh 286 40.6 40.9 -0.3 33 -7
Madhya Pradesh 3745 47.2 46.5 0.7 46 -1
Kerala 920 55.7 54.2 1.5 35 -20
Gujarat 802 48.1 45.9 2.2 11 -37
Karnataka 837 51.1 48.4 2.7 45 -6
Telangana 664 52.3 49.4 2.9 50 -2
Delhi 3358 48.4 43.3 5.1 29 -19
Maharashtra 1296 53.3 47.3 6.0 40 -13
Odisha 861 55.1 48.9 6.2 38 -18
Jharkhand 950 53.6 47.4 6.2 17 -37
Meghalaya 43 55.8 49.3 6.5 N/a N/a
West Bengal 1393 55.6 47.4 8.2 38 -17
Manipur 32 59.4 49.4 10.0 N/a N/a
Assam 239 60.7 47.7 13.0 50 -11
Goa 21 71.4 48.4 23.0 N/a N/a

Legend: N/a – no candidates made it into this category
Source:
2011 Census
Source: Legally India research from 2015 CLAT papers of states with more than 20 test takers

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