This reminds me of a blog article that I wrote long time ago. In that article, the focus was JEE and admission to IITs, and I had argued that something had to be done to improve the gender ratio in our top academic institutes. One of the suggestions I had at that time was to add some marks to the JEE score of girl applicants.
I went through some of the reader comments on ToI website, and you find the expected arguments. If girls (may I say ladies, since all applicants to IIMs are adults) are good enough, they should come in on their own merit. They don't say it, but the obvious implication is that the ladies are not good enough. How come they score well in school, and their marks are marginally higher than the boys in school. There is an answer to that too. One comment says, "girls are good at cramming, while boys have better brains." I thought schools teach more of concepts, and coaching for admission tests teach more of tricks. But I let it pass.
Some others have commented that ladies are not interested in business administration. (Coming to IITs, it would translate to girls not being interested in STEM fields.) Of course, what is the basis of this sweeping statement. The comments are silent on that. Why would a girl who chooses to study science subjects in 11th and 12th class would suddenly decide in 12th class that she is not interested in pursuing under-graduate education in STEM fields. Is there any data to support such a statement (data showing that after 12th class, they change their discipline and study non-STEM fields). Well, the data from engineering admissions show that the problem of gender imbalance is only in the top 50-100 colleges. This debunks the theory that girls are not in IITs because they are not interested. I am sure similar data from management schools other than the top 50-100 would show that ladies are indeed interested in business administration, but they are not getting admission to top 50-100 schools.
One possibility that readers on ToI website would not want to consider is that perhaps the admission process inherently favours the men. One reader suggests that this is not the case by arguing that CAT is very simple exam. It checks things that any good student should know. Well, if that is the case, why is CAT coaching next only to JEE coaching in this country. And if the admission process has an inherent bias against ladies, then wouldn't it be in the fitness of things that that bias be counter-balanced by adding certain marks to ladies' score.
Of course, the difficulty that one faces is that there is no easy way to compute the effect of that bias in terms of marks. And hence, an academician would like to stay away from calling such a thing as an exercise in removing bias. Also, to suggest that this is being done to counter biases in the admission process, would imply that one admits that the admission process is not perfect. Any honourable academic should admit that there is no perfect admission process, since admission process amounts to predicting success of individuals in the long run, where the situation would be very different from the situation at the time of admission. And if I could see the future so clearly, I wouldn't be an academician. I would probably help more people (and make more money too) by telling them their future. But admission process is managed by a specialized breed of academicians, called academic administrators. And this breed finds it extremely difficult to admit even the obvious.
But what is there in the name. As Shakespeare said, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." At least some academic administrators are showing leadership and solving a serious problem. Let them call it gender-balancing. Let them call it diversification of student body.
By the way, this method of countering the biases, is followed in all top schools in the world. If, from your admission application, it is obvious that you had a particular hardship or a situation which would adversely affect your marks, that is taken into account while deciding the admission. In India, we are so afraid of any subjective evaluation (for good reason, I must quickly add) that we can't do such a thing on a case to case basis, and therefore have to apply any process identically to a large group.
This method of countering biases is extremely powerful for the simple reason that you could identify a large number of biases and decided on a year-to-year basis how to counter for each such bias. I can see that in future, this has the potential to replace reservation system. I should ideally check for each applicant what all hardships one has gone through, and give additional credit to that applicant to counter the bias introduced by that hardship. So, one may give certain amount of credit, if the applicant did not have access to a city school. One may give some credit, if both parents are non-graduates. One may give some credit, if one of the parents was always away defending the borders in a warlike situation. If tomorrow, we come up with a transparent system of finding out the financial status of an applicant, then that could correspond to some credits. If we can do all this, then our education system becomes truly inclusive, and we will no longer need a reservation system which only looks at one parameter - caste. But that is a long way to go.