When preparing for the IIT-JEE, Deeksha Sinha (18) didn't face any specific difficulties because she was a girl.
But there were the small concerns. "My parents were always anxious that I'd commute alone from my coaching class late at night," said Sinha, a first-year student at IIT, Bombay.
Sinha's trajectory began with her deciding on engineering "because everyone around me was doing it". Girls, she said, have nothing of the kind of burning determination that boys have about the JEE.
"Even the girls who were preparing with me were not very keen on getting in - it almost felt like they were doing it for the sake of it. The boys were much more intense about it," she said.
As one of the few girls on a male-dominated campus, Sinha has felt bouts of loneliness.
"Occasionally, you do feel left out by the boys or sometimes no one sits next to you in class," she said.