Though there are several women qualifiers among the top 20 of UPSC 2019, the ratio of the male-female qualifiers is skewed. There were 829 qualified candidates in the final merit list among which 197 were women and the rest are men. This amounts to only 23% of the total number of qualifiers. Pratibha Verma of Sultanpur, UP acquired the third position in the merit list and is the topper among the women. The second position among women is bagged by Vishaka Yadav whose rank is AIR 6 in the overall list. AIR 10 is Sanjita Mohapatra who is third among women candidates. The number of female candidates who made it to the final list have dropped slightly compared to the past years. In 2018, 240 female candidates or 24.24% of the candidates had qualified. In 2017, 254 or 24% of the final merit list were women and in 2016, 282 which was 23.33% of the merit list were female candidates.
According to Sanjita, this dip in the percentage of women qualifiers is the result of the lower gross enrolment ratio of women this year. She justifies the dip taking into account the social setup of India where even today, marriage and family commitments is prioritized over education and career for women, even by their parents. She cleared the exam in fifth attempt with Sociology as optional. She is a mechanical engineering student who qualified from CET, Bhubaneswar, 2012 and had attempted the exam thrice in her college days to gain familiarity with the pattern. She worked shortly after graduation and quit in 2017 to dedicate full-time to the preparation for the exam. She further states, the interview round was a “thrilling experience” where she was asked several questions about child labour and women empowerment. Even though she managed to attempt only 80% of the questions in the Mains, being able to give satisfactory answer which were detail oriented, is the key to improving her overall score.
Pratibha Verma, on the other hand, took lessons from her past attempts in making a practical and fruitful preparation strategy. Her last year rank was 489 and she was shortlisted for the IRS or Indian Revenue Service. This helped her understand the UPSC exam pattern better and work on her weak areas. She is a B.Tech. Graduate from IIT-Delhi and chose Physics as her optional. She made current affairs her key strength by preparing it thoroughly from the past two years. Pratibha has a vision to work on women empowerment and children related issues, specifically in her home state, UP.
*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.