Diversity or Merit

Some of the IIMs have clearly stated that they are going to give a boost to girl candidates and non-engineer candidates. B-Schools have always rated diversity very high and informally nudged things around here and there in order to get balance. I am of the view that the diversity-drama is a bit of a sham, a bit overcooked and is very unfair to both the "boosted" and the "boosted at the cost of". This post is an attempt at busting some of the myths

Engineers all have uniform opinions, so you get no 'other' view on things
What humbug. This is one of the most convenient non-truths. Quality of the input/view is way more important than the mere diversity factor. If you are discussing astrophysics, would you have a sportsperson on the panel because he might have something different to offer. I have had some of the most wonderful discussions with fellow engineers. And been irritated by the fetish for difference from fellow B-School grads (these could be engineers also). If you are watching test cricket on TV, would you choose a panel that has Richie Benaud and Harsha Bhogle or one that has Mandira Bedi and Charu Sharma. High quality discussion brings to light diverse views. Not the other way around. Do you think intelligent engineers are blinkered? What gives one the right to assume this.

Are there not even 500 good girls who can get into the IIMs. How anti-women are you if you say that girls should not be given a boost
The most important and the least-debated aspect of this whole issue is how patronising the above conjecture is to the girls. The best ones who would have anyway gotten in will now be seen as being among the ones who got a boost thanks to the system. The ones arguing against this kind of "boost" are not the ones who are saying there are not enough good girl candidates around.

On the contrary, I firmly believe that there are plenty of good girls around. I also firmly believe that they can get in, compete and do well without anyone offering them any extra help. Some of the girls who were my classmates were very good. I would love it if the country stopped patronising them in the pretext of helping them.

Everyone stereotypes. Next time some girl gets into an IIM, I am sure everyone around will go - Yeah, so what your chromosomes probably played a bigger role than your grey cells in getting you there. Which is so sad.

BA English and B.Sc Maths grads can be very intelligent too
Of course. I am not denying that. Only to test this, you have designed the CAT exam. The CAT exam is not a maths test, as everyone is made to believe. Worldwide, math and verbal ability have been taken as proxies for gauging intelligence. India is no different. The maths level tested in CAT is at best of the standard X level. As a signal of smarts, the exam is a pretty good proxy. If the examiners so believe that it is not a good enough proxy for smarts, they should change the entrance exam. Design it in such a way that no group is at an unfair advantage. Randomly adding marks at the end of the whole process is just backdoor entry.

All arguments be damned, we are conducting a social experiment because we can:
This is what the IIMs are telling us, in essence. The merits of diversity have never been demonstrated. We are just adopting received wisdom from everyone because it is convenient. All of education (especially in India) is a signal. A degree conveys the ability of a student to grasp/perform rather than the knowledge he/she might have gleamed in college. Engineering colleges are tougher to get into (the good ones. the ones that actually try to teach engineering), tougher to survive in, and tougher to get out of. The IIMs are effectively telling the kids to not go through this rigour if they want a better chance at getting into the IIM.

The worst affected are going to be the guys in the IITs. Poor sods. They crack JEE and believe they are getting into an elite crowd. Little do they know that at every level, they are going to be discriminated against due to their presence in this elite crowd. Some joker at IIT with a 99.6th percentile will end up with no IIM calls because he would not be bringing in diversity into an IIM, whereas a non-IIT engineer with 99.4th percentile will still get a call. All because the non-IIT engineer will bring more diversity. Ha. The joys of rightful discrimination.

IIM Cal probably has the best policy. Power to them.
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