When Yamaha inducted 200 women to work on its scooter assembly line last month, it was an oddity in the auto industry, even though these women were only apprentices.

The management thinks women bring more discipline and better productivity, hence this experiment. But the company has also seen the number of women mechanical engineers go up from zero to 15 in three years.

The diversity wheels are slowly turning in the rest of the auto industry too. Maruti Suzukirecruited 45 women engineers from campuses this year, double the number it hired two years ago.

About 90% are mechanical engineers. Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) hired 30 women, also from campuses this year, up from a single digit figure during the past three years.

A few dozens of women hires might seem like mere tokenism in the auto industry that employs 13 million people, but a deeper shift is visible even in the training fields.

Mechanical engineering - the traditional male-dominated route of entry into the auto industry - is attracting more and more women students. The numbers are not yet significant enough to alter diversity in shop floors, but it is good enough for companies to steadily step up hiring.

About 45,000 more women signed up for engineering courses this year than they did last year taking the total to 5.88 lakh, according to data from the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). Within this, the number of girls opting for mechanical engineering has almost doubled to 8,209 in 2011-12.

Choosing Auto Ahead of IT

"Today companies don't have that huge a pool to recruit when they go to colleges. Hopefully that will change in future," says Prince Augustine, executive VP, group human capital and leadership development, Mahindra & Mahindra.

"A considerable change in the talent pool for companies will be visible in the next three to four years," adds SS Mantha, chairman, AICTE.

In some pockets, women are even choosing the auto sector ahead of IT. At Cummins College of Engineering for women, if IT was the top choice 3-4 years ago, it's mechanical engineering today.

Source: Economic Times