Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Medical School and Marriage in India

The Times of India reports that today women make up 70% of medical school students in Andhra Pradesh, India. While that appears to bode well for proponents of gender equality in the sciences, it seems the prestige associated with with a doctor in the family is not the driving force behind parents' supporting their girls in medical careers. Instead, the status and prestige of medical school means the girls are more marriageable. The families of boys seeking wives believe that if there is money for an elite medical school there is certainly money for a big dowry.

Explaining the social trend, a senior doctor said: "If a girl wants to study, parents do not think twice about the repercussions such as dowry and marriage expenses. And, when they are prepared to pay Rs 50 lakh for an MBBS seat, they will also be prepared to loosen their purse strings for the marriage." 

Doctors say that while parents usually go by the interests of their children, there are some who also put pressure on their kids to take up the profession. "Till the undergraduate level, girls do very well in studies. However, by the time they finish house surgeonship, a good number of them are already married," says Dr AY Chary, dean of Dr VRK Women's Medical College, the only medical college in the state exclusively meant for women.

This sounds like something out of the 1950s in the US, perhaps as portrayed in the Julia Roberts film, Mona Lisa Smile. In that film girls went to college not to earn university degrees and get good jobs, but to "snag a husband."

To read "The reality behind rising number  of women medicos in Andra Pradash," click here.

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