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Testing Service Says GRE Scores From China, South Korea, and Taiwan Are Suspect

By DAVID L. WHEELER

The Educational Testing Service has told graduate schools in the United States that scores on the Graduate Record Examinations from students taking the test in China, South Korea, and Taiwan may be inflated by cheating. The ETS is also taking measures to try to restore the integrity of the scores, including suspending the use of a computer-based test in the affected regions, a change that will affect more than 55,000 students annually.

 

 

March 28, 2010, 11:00 AM ET

Are Women Partly to Blame for the Gender Gap in STEM Fields?

By Diane Auer Jones

The American Association of University Women recently released its new report, Why So Few?, which aims to identify the causes of the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, graduate programs and careers.  The report highlights the progress that has been made in closing the gap in some fields, yet expresses concern that in other fields, most notably engineering and computer science, the gap remains pronounced. 

Not only do fewer women than men make it to the upper echelons of academic STEM careers, but a higher percentage of women than men leave the field by midcareer (although I would guess that men with children and professional wives may leave the field at a rate that approaches that of women with children, as opposed to men who have children and stay-at-home wives).

What are the reasons for this persistent gap?  According to the report, social and environmental factors are to blame.  Shocking.  Sadly, this report serves only to regurgitate age-old accusations and assumptions, and to make worn-out recommendations that we've heard so many times before—none of which have proven terribly effective in closing the gap in certain fields. 

I can tell that the report was written by academics for academics, because it considers only those who are in traditional research careers as STEM participants.  The metric by which success is measured is academic ranking in the university setting, and it is clear that the authors, without any solid empirical evidence to substantiate this claim, believe that if we just had more women (them) in the senior academic ranks, more girls would pursue engineering and computer science majors and careers.

Maybe that is the case, but maybe it is not.  Regardless, the inherent bias in this report should caution everyone against taking the results too seriously.  Why weren't any men included among the authors?  How can a group of women spend hundreds of pages criticizing men for excluding them, only to turn around and do the very same thing to men in writing this report?  Despite what they may want you to believe, there are many men who are supportive of women in STEM, and who even have wives and daughters that have enjoyed successful STEM careers. 

Am I shocked that a group of university women, largely "produced" during the 60s and 70s, wrote a report that used academic ranking of females as the proxy for female success in STEM fields?  Of course not.  But this narrow focus on academic research careers as the "be all, end all" for those with a serious interest in STEM may be the very reason why we see persistently low recruitment levels to STEM majors, especially among women, and such a high degree of career dissatisfaction and dropout rates among those who endured such lengthy and costly training along the way.

In reality, if we did a better job of exposing students to, and preparing them for, the vast array of careers that are outside the laboratory but that take full advantage of rigorous STEM training—and that, frankly, pay better and are more conducive to a healthy work-life balance—we might find that more students are interested in completing a STEM major and persisting in a STEM related career. 

I've received countless numbers of e-mail messages and phone calls from frustrated STEM graduate students who want to know how I got out of the lab and into another career.  Research is not for everyone, yet it is the only career for which many STEM academic departments prepare students, and it is certainly the career choice that academic faculty value most among their graduates (with rare exception, including my wonderful adviser, who has been supportive of my alternative pathway every step of the way and, as a result of watching his own professional wife balance career and family, was incredibly flexible when I entered graduate school with two children and a husband in tow).

That people who leave the laboratory are frequently shunned as failures, assumed to be incompetent, and accused of being sellouts—clearly excommunicated from the STEM club—doesn't help.  The narrow focus on research careers, to the exclusion of all others, may be the real source of the disappointing enrollment trends.

Research careers are highly competitive.  No matter how long you've been at it, to be a successful researcher means competing against a growing group of applicants for a shrinking supply of grant and contract resources. As federal spending on interest and entitlement programs grow, the competition is only going to increase.  Peer reviewers and contracting officials are compelled to give priority to those with the strongest track record and the highest likelihood of success, which generally means that the rewards are greatest for those who devote the most time and energy to their work.

This isn't gender bias.  It is reality. There are rare exceptions among a few scientists who can focus intensely—or farm the work out to enough graduate students—that they get the job done with breathtaking efficiency.  But for the most part, no dean or tenure policy in the world can change the fact that research careers are demanding and not very family friendly, because in general, being smart isn't nearly as important as being persistent, and persistence requires time.  Designing better experiments is good, but being there to repeat them over and over again, in every possible iteration, is even better. 

Students are smart enough to see the pressures under which their faculty mentors travail.  If  a student knows she doesn't want to spend her career in such a competitive environment, yet she doesn't see other viable career options based on STEM training, then it isn't surprising that she would change majors and get out while there's still time.   

I could go on and on about the limitations of this report and its overreliance on poorly designed studies or anecdotal legal cases to come to tired and unsubstantiated conclusions about why the achievement gap persists.

For example, there is a whole section of the report that explores the "likeability" of successful females over successful males, and the conclusions drawn are based on the results of a couple of poorly designed and statistically insignificant studies.  One study cited as evidence that successful women are less likeable, and therefore, less likely to enjoy career success (except if they are more successful, then how can one argue that their success hindered their success?)  is based on the responses of only 48 survey participants, all of whom were enrolled in an undergraduate psychology course at a single university, and 90 percent of whom also had outside work experience.   In this study, the participants were given career profiles (said to be of equal merit) for one woman, one man, and one "dummy" man (their term, not mine) and were asked to select which individual would be more likeable.  There were 19 students who selected the female as the more likeable candidate, whereas 23 students selected the male.  So the difference of four votes among a group of 48 respondents is seen as quantifiable and undeniable evidence that successful females are unlikeable. Meanwhile, because two-thirds of the candidates were male, I would be surprised if the results didn't lean toward the likeable male, given there were two to select from.  Is it possible that something in the fictitious resumes, rather than candidate's gender, influenced the results?

We don't know what sort of messages might have been planted in the psychology classroom or through the psychology curriculum that may have biased these results. That the researcher used students in her own department, and possibly even in her own classes, to perform the study raises a number of questions.  Wouldn't it make more sense to sample a larger group of students that come from a wide range of majors and even more than one university?  Also, this study relied on "recruited" survey participants, as opposed to randomly selected participants. The literature about selection bias is quite extensive, so I need not review it here. 

Beyond that, we don't know whether it was societal cues and environmental factors that influenced the decisions these students made on their survey, or if it was some real life experience that may have had a greater impact on their choices regarding the most likeable candidate.

The report tells us that 90 percent of the student participants had jobs outside of school, which means that each of them probably had a boss who was either a male or a female, and whom they did or did not like.  Maybe the students saw their own bosses in the fictitious candidates before them, and voted accordingly.  A sample size of 48 does not lend itself to an unconfounded experimental design in which one can declare with certainty that causal, rather than coincidental, relationships exist.  I would argue that women (and men) who are competent, nice, collaborative, flexible, inclusive, have a good sense of humor, can roll with the punches, and are supportive of peers and subordinates are likeable, and that those who are nasty, bossy, judgmental, exclusive, demanding or threatening are not, regardless of their sales record in the aircraft industry (the scenario contrived for this study).  Reality is far more complex than is an either/or survey about three fictitious characters about whom only limited information is provided.

The report also focuses narrowly on biases that men might show toward women, but completely ignores the notion that women in science may practice their own form of exclusivity amongst themselves. The report cites a legal case in which a woman was denied a partnership at a firm because she was perceived by the male partners as being too "macho," crude in her behaviors, not feminine enough, and offensive in her use of profanity—which resulted in charges of sexual discrimination against the men.  It is possible that this woman's behavior was not worthy of partnership in the firm.  The idea that men are the only ones who discriminate against women is short-sighted and naïve.  How many women have been pushed out of science by other women, because they are perceived as being too pretty, too feminine, or too interested in "girly" things—like makeup—to be smart?  

Women in STEM are pretty selective about who they will let into the clubhouse, and while they may say that they want more women on the faculty, they want to be quite selective about which women are allowed to join the club.  When I was a graduate student, I had the unique opportunity to watch an alpha female at work, and it was scary.  I saw how she treated the junior female faculty members, as well as how she treated students who didn't conform to her narrow world view regarding how women should look, dress, and behave. She once told me that I would never make it in science if I didn't stop accessorizing … and let me be clear that this woman considered deodorant and a bra to be unnecessary accessories. 

On the issue of family friendliness, I must burst the bubble and report that it is sometimes women and not men who create an unfriendly environment for those who have children. Similarly, it is not only women, but also frequently men who suffer from the time pressures of both a research career and child-rearing.  I was once asked by a female faculty member why I thought I could raise children and complete a graduate degree when she, who was obviously smarter than I was, had to forfeit children to enjoy career success.

To be fair, not all childless women are unsupportive of their mother peers. Some see the children of peers as an extension of their own family, and they are incredibly helpful and supportive.  Nor are all women with children understanding and flexible when it comes to the work-life balance of their younger peers.  We cannot generalize by gender or family situation, but must instead look to individuals as either the cause of the problem or the source of potential solutions. 

We do, however, need to be honest about the fact that it might not be exclusively the men in science who make the field unattractive to so many young women.  Sometimes, it would seem, that the women in science are the source of the problem, especially in those instances when their behaviors, appearances, and life choices don't align with what many young girls imagine for themselves as adults.

Perhaps it is time for women to stop playing the role of victim and, instead, look within their own clubhouse for at least some of the answers to the enrollment and gender gap problem.  And perhaps it is time to reform undergraduate and graduate STEM curricula to expose students to the wide range of STEM applications, and therefore, STEM-related careers, that are available to those who like science and math, but don't see themselves spending a lifetime at the bench.

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1. sassyscientist - March 29, 2010 at 12:25 am

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While you bring up some thought-provoking and interesting arguments, I don't necessarily agree with how you arrived at some of these points.

Yes, including male authors would be great but I doubt that any men were excluded from authoring anything in this study. There probably weren't many men to choose from (if any!) Sure there are men supportive of women in STEM careers. I know lots of them. BUT, there are not many men who write about the subject. It's just a fact.

Yes, educating young people about alternative, non-research careers would expand the pool of prospective scientists. However, one road block to this is that there is still a class level that occurs in the sciences. "Alternative" careers tend to be looked down upon as careers chosen by those who couldn't make it at the research bench. Sadly, I would say this attitude is most upheld by the old white men who dominate science.

Yes, women are partly to blame. I would argue, though, that the women that are adding to the discrimination are mostly doing so to fit in with the boys. And, I would argue that some of those examples of "discrimination" or "bias" from other women are really women trying to warn and/or protect each other.

In the end, it's not about playing the gender blame game but rather about working towards improving the culture of science for all.

2. ksledge - March 29, 2010 at 08:27 am

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The very fact that there are alpha women out there discriminating against other women for having children, wearing make-up, etc., indicates that gender bias is a major problem. If it weren't, these women wouldn't exist. According to the gender bias learning project, "gender wars" is one of the most common types of gender bias:
http://www.genderbiaslearning.com/stereotype_genderwars.html

So yes, women are to blame. But society and the STEM culture are to blame for being sexist in the first place.

I did like the point in this article about non-academic STEM fields and how these need to be advertised to women more heavily.

3. lee77 - March 29, 2010 at 08:28 am

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Very interesting piece, and I'm glad to see someone willing to say that not all women are inclusive, collaborative, nurturing, caring, and there may actually be systemic issues within academe that could be undermining the efforts to increase the proportion of women (and perhaps the number of men?) in STEM.

4. osholes - March 29, 2010 at 08:49 am

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Most of our undergraduates, as at most colleges, are female. They do really well in the sciences, along with their male classmates, because all of our faculty, male and female, support our students while they are here, while they are planning careers, and after they have left (writing letters, providing contacts, etc.). All of our students do about as well as you would predict based on their record and skills. I suspect that the faculty at lots of small colleges are not bothering to read reports but instead are busy educating all of their students for the future. Both male and female faculty in our department (Natural Sciences) support student research by male and female students, whether it be in biology, chemistry, environmental science or physics. That's our job.

5. dank48 - March 29, 2010 at 09:44 am

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Thanks for a thoughtful article about a persistent problem and, imo, a thoughtful critique of the study. It seems to me that the recommendations are good ones, especially about increasing awareness of options outside academia. There are interesting careers in the real world, after all. In fact, that's the world one's education is intended to prepare one for, come to think of it.

It's easy to get discouraged when problems that have long since been identified still haven't gone away. One suspects that there are multiple reasons for this. As H. L. Mencken said, for every complex problem there's a simple solution--and it's wrong. Heaven knows there are rung-kickers out there, and some people are better at looking out for number one than at long-term solidarity. And decades after them exciting '60s, plenty of old attitudes remain in place--or have returned, to our surprise and dismay--long after those dragons were supposedly slain.

Simplistic "answers" don't help much in themselves, but they may be useful as symptoms of underlying problems.

6. goxewu - March 29, 2010 at 09:46 am

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Ms. Auer Jones says that part of the sex gap ("gender" is a term of grammar) reported in STEM fields is because the report doesn't consider the number of women in non-lab jobs that take advantage of STEM training. Then she says, in sum, that there aren't many women in them because such jobs are not sold to women STEM students and that, in fact, she receives "countless" (an odd adjective for someone who objects to other people's lack of empirical data) e-mails and phone calls asking how in hell to find one of those jobs.

Ms. Auer Jones says that if the field promoted those non-research jobs, which pay better and allow for a better work-life balance, the STEM fields would attract more students. She doesn't say more FEMALE students, and leaves it to the assumption (and Ms. Auer Jones doesn't like assumptions) that males are less interested in higher pay and a better work-balance.

Ms. Auer Jones criticizes a report from the American Association of University WOMEN for having all female authors who criticize men for discouraging women in STEM fields. This is not a hoisted-on-own-petard moment. I do believe there were reports written by African-American organizations with no white authors during the Civil Rights struggles, criticizing white people for excluding blacks from lots of things.

Ms. Auer Jones, to use one of her own phrases, does "go on and on" about the competitive nature of research careers in STEM fields without saying anything other than those careers not being "family friendly" (families are exclusively female?) as to why this is a reason for the lack of women in STEM research careers. Is Ms. Auer Jones saying that women are inherently/biologically less competitive? This is somewhat odd coming from somebody who's a President and CEO. (Re female competitiveness: Ms. Auer Jones might want to turn on the TV and check out a game or two of the NCAA women's basketball tournament.)

Ms. Auer Jones's complaints about the results of the psych-class survey are fairly weak, consisting of a hunch that if two-thirds of the candidates had been male, the results would lean the other way, and a laundry list of unmentioned things--fictitious names, a unicorn stampede, etc.--we can't be sure might also have been factors.

Ms. Auer Jones submits that bias against women by women academics in STEM fields might also play a significant part in women not becoming STEM students or pursuing STEM careers. She cites as evidence--and Ms. Auer Jones does not like anecdotal evidence--an anecdote about a single "alpha female" who told her she wouldn't get far in science if she wore accessories or a bra. Other than that, the charge against women STEM academics is that they're "are pretty selective about who they will let into the clubhouse, and while they may say that they want more women on the faculty, they want to be quite selective about which women are allowed to join the club." As if this doesn't apply, at any first-rate school, to any first-rate faculty member, male or female, in any and all fields.

Ms. Auer Jones ends with a highly qualified ("qualified," as in hedged) suggestion that SOME women MAY be responsible for SOME of the problems in the lack of women in STEM research careers. But she doesn't say whether the attitudes in "their own clubhouse" are majorly responsible for the sex disparity, or bear just token responsibilty, or are something in between. She seems to want to say that there's something biologically determinant about women that's the main cause of the sex gap in STEM fields, but understandably can't quite bring herself to say it. So, the gist/tone of her post suggests Ms. Auer Jones knows that the attitudes of men in the STEM fields, where they are a preponderant majority, are the preponderant problem, but she just wants to blow a little anti-feminist smoke into the discussion.

(I can't wait for rbannist to check in with "The Honorable Diane Auer Jones's brilliant critical analysis of the AAUW report on...")

7. iris411 - March 29, 2010 at 10:03 am

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It is important not to confuse social constraits with anecdotes. Social contraints are largely talking about statistical truth, a few anecdotal counter examples will not make a statistical statement untrue. Besides, most of the personal examples provided in this article could have multiple interpretations in addition to the one given by the author.
On the other hand to understand a statistial statement in absolute terms is a mistake. The statement that women are generally more inclusive than their male counterparts doesn't mean EVERY woman is more inclusive.
The statistical fact is that there a a lot less women in STEM than men. So the question is whether there is any systemic force that are discouraging women from pursuing a career in STEM. Most likely there are. But the key is to find how what are that and how we can change the culture in STEM to draw in brains from a larger intelligence pool.
We cannot frame the question otherwise, i.e., how women should change to enable them a career in STEM. --- That is why I disagree with the author. On individual level, yes, everyone male or female needs to ask her/himself "what shall i do so that I could have a successful career". On societal level, NO, we shouldn't continue to request women to adapt to a male-dominant world.

8. 11182967 - March 29, 2010 at 11:54 am

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I've often wondered whether there might not be more women--and Blacks and Hispanics and other proportionally underrepresented demographic clusters--in STEM fields (especially engineering)and some other disciplines such as economics if there weren't so many (frequently well-prepared) international students available to fill the slots in these areas in American graduate schools. Why bother helping urban Black and Hispanic kids--or girls full of "math anxiety"--to learn math if we can populate our programs and keep our faculty positions by admitting dozens of foreign students (whom we didn't even have to prepare in secondary schools and undergrad programs)? I don't necessarily propose reducing the number of immigrants, many of whom stay here to our benefit (see also medical students), but I do wonder what efforts we might make if we had to prepare our own supply of grad students in these areas.

9. sciencelibrarian - March 29, 2010 at 11:54 am

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I suggest that anyone interested in this topic read The Sexual Paradox, by psychologist Susan Pinker. It provides a highly readable discussion of what research shows regarding sex imbalances in some professions.

10. dank48 - March 29, 2010 at 11:57 am

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Definition 2 of "gender" in MWNCD10 is "sex." The fact that definition 1 covers grammatical uses doesn't obviate other meanings. Even with seven iterations of "Ms. Auer Jones," Goxewu is never going to be mistaken for Emile Zola, who used forceful repetition to hammer home points, not to introduce tangential criticism of details.

It's all well and good to be ready to transform the world, but getting it done can be tricky. Accepting reality as such, getting a handle on what it's possible and desireable to change and on what is not so malleable doesn't constitute a copout. As Frank Zappa put it, "In a war between you and the world, bet on the world."

11. abednars - March 29, 2010 at 12:53 pm

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Aaaah, yes. It's always womens' fault for just wanting too damn much. We should just understand that academic careers in STEM are going to take lots of time! And if we aren't able to give that level of commitment, we should just opt out! Find a non-STEM career that's more family-friendly with work-life balance and what not.

Meanwhile, the men who succeed in academic STEM careers (using the labor of their wives, mothers, in-laws, grad students, and everyone else within reach) should just carry on and collect their accolades. You know - because they got there without any help. And they're dedicated and smart.

12. goxewu - March 29, 2010 at 02:19 pm

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Re #10:

"Sex" is a better, more accurate, shorter, to-the-point and less faculty-meeting sounding term than "gender."

Somehow, my not being confused with Zola isn't much of an insult. On the tennis court, I've never been mistaken for Roger Federer, either, and somebody's mentioning it doesn't hurt my feelings.

dank48 has used that Zappa quote before, and recently. Fresh material, please.

And re my own #

In paragraph six, I garble my meaning by quoting too much of Ms. Auer Jones's remark about women in STEM being selective about whom they let into the "clubhouse." Every first-rate professor, male or female, in a first-rate school, is very selective about who, male or female, gets into the clubhouse (of recommendation letters, graduate schools, jobs, etc.) in whatever field.

13. jffoster - March 29, 2010 at 03:11 pm

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Wonder if dank48 (10) thinks teenagers have gender in the back seat of a car.

14. ohreally - March 29, 2010 at 03:39 pm

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sciencelibrarian; "I suggest that anyone interested in this topic read The Sexual Paradox, by psychologist Susan Pinker. It provides a highly readable discussion of what research shows regarding sex imbalances in some professions."

Yes, if you accept simplistic, reductive explanations of complex social, cultural and political phenomena as interpretted by a psychologist. She samples a narrow swath of research and makes inappropriately broad claims that satisfy many readers initial biases. For instance, she cites a behavioral economics study in which men are administered oxcytocyn in order to make claims about women's behavior. Do I really have to point out what is wrong with drawing such a conclusion? You might actually want to make claims about men when you study men, and if you want to make claims about women, design a study in which they are the objects of study.

Her discussions of developmental studies are so simplistic that she basically sets the field back a decade. Development of humans is not like that of a seed. What happens, the interactions, the conditions all matter to development (including, if not especially, hormonal levels). She can't imagine the numbers she sees as being due to culture--well I can. How about reviewing some cross-cultural studies or merely comparing outcomes across societies; it would interupt this simplistic thinking.

15. dais9430 - March 29, 2010 at 03:50 pm

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It is disconcerting that Ms. Jones critiques at length one study mentioned in this report as evidence that the entire argument is flawed, and then goes on to present her main argument mainly in terms of anecdotal evidence. Given that her evidence for women hating on women is based on an N of 1 (herself), her science is equally flawed. We could hypothesize that her experiences are the result of her own perceptions or behavior. Even if women ARE hostile to other women in science, that doesn't prove that the cause lies with women themselves. It could still be the environment. For example, check out a study by Robin Ely at Harvard who found that women lawyers exhibit more hostility to their female colleagues, depending on how male-dominated the upper rungs of the company are. The fewer opportunities they perceive in the environment for women, the more likely it is that women are going to view each other as competitors rather than allies.

16. dank48 - March 29, 2010 at 04:24 pm

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You know, I'd try to explain the whole business about goxewu's "'gender' is a grammatical term," my response that "'gender' can also mean 'sex'," and so forth, but frankly, it would be too much like what teenagers have in the backseat, although I get the impression that the back seat gets less of an impression than it used to.

17. marka - March 29, 2010 at 07:55 pm

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Good, thoughtful, and thought-provoking article. And some decent comments too. Amazing how many comments, tho, seem to miss the point, and go off on tangents. The author is not writing a treatise here, or even an academic article for a peer-reviewed publication. She's giving an opinion, and some reasons for same. Seem reasonable to me.

As for grammatical 'corrections' and comments, and ad hominem attacks - please leave those on the cutting room floor (or delete or put in 'trash'). I'm getting tired of goxewu rants ... sigh ...

18. goxewu - March 29, 2010 at 08:16 pm

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Re #17:

T'weren't no rant, and t'wasn't ad hominem. Just seven short paragraphs, each taking reasonable issue with one of Ms. Auer Jones's points.

While it's certainly reasonable for Ms. Auer Jones to write an opinion piece instead of a treatise or an article for a peer-reviewed publication, it's also reasonable--especially given the format and obvious intent of "Brainstorm"--for commenters to take issue with it.

19. supertatie - March 29, 2010 at 11:27 pm

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THANK GOD. People are finally telling the truth about this. My generation of women has been discussing it for years. I have been an attorney for 24 years, and an academic for 19, and anyone who thinks that women get ahead by enlisting the support of other women as some general rule is dreaming. There are women out there who love to help the new girl on the block get ahead, and plenty who would be just as happy to slit her throat. You pick your mentor by their personality and their genuine interest in your personal and professional welfare, not whether they are male or female.

My experiences are much like the author's, in that my classmates and I (mid-80s graduates of law school) found that the men in their 60s were vastly more supportive of our desires to blend family and work than the women who were (at the time) in their 40s. One of my law school classmates asked her supervisor (a mid-40s female) to work part-time after her son was born. The supervisor's reaction was, "No one has ever done such a thing, and how dare you presume to ask? Our generation had to sacrifice to make it here, and now YOUR generation thinks you can walk in and 'have it all.'"

So my friend went to her boss' boss (a white male in his 60s) who told her that no one had ever done it because no one had ever asked! He told my friend that they valued her work, and wanted her there long-term, and that they would be happy to accommodate her. She worked part-time after two children, and is still there!

We have found here at my large state research university that it is not just the female STEM students who are interested in careers other than in the lab - many male students do, too. We have been adding Professional Science Masters' programs, among others, to meet these growing demands.

Like so many other things, this is a complex story that isn't easily summed up with cries of "discrimination!" and "gender bias!"

20. jffoster - March 29, 2010 at 11:46 pm

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Sounds like your (supertatie's 19) friend, the worker, encountered the Quuen Bee.

21. rbannist - March 30, 2010 at 02:09 am

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Diane Auer-Jones examination of why there are not more women involved in STEM disciplines might be valid on the level on which she is investigating, but the issues are far broader than what goes on within the institutional cultures themselves. I believe the issue needs to be framed in a broader context.

The Unites STaets has so much riding on its leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. We've been so far out in front for so long we take it for granted, but decline is at our doorsteps. Drastic and immediate action is required to maintain and build upon this lead. To this end, we need people from ALL backgrounds to want to pursue STEM disciplines, and given women appear under represented in these areas, those responsible for leading and developing these disciplines must respond affirmatively.

How important is our STEM leadership?

Consider that the national defense, health care, environmental management, infrastructure rebuiling and expansion, product development as well as the more traditional academic pursuits such as space exploration and applied physics are all in play and American leadership is essential.

Our national defense needs state of the art weapon systems that no potential adversary in the world can possibly replicate or exceed. We cannot take for granted how strong we've been since the decline of the Soviet Union. New threats such as those posed by radical Islamic Terrorism will require new technologies. We must be aware of rogue states developing nuclear and missile technology. Our leadership depends on our ability to develop and produce the highest quality technology.

Our medical system in in chaos and likely to get much worse with the government taking over its control. Regardless, new more cost effective means of delivering the highest quality health care while continuing to advance our knowledge of how to treat disease and injury depends on the best science and technology available.

Regardless of where one stands on global warminng or climate change, we must continue to work to make our human activity produce the smallest possible footprint on the environment and conserve our vital resources for generations to come.

Our infrastructure is crumbling and in decay while our needs increase. Better water and sewage systems and a more responsive, efficient power grid are vital to maintain our standard of living. As highways and bridges crumble, we can come up with advancements in safety and design.

Product development is also essential to American leadership. The need for our leadership in computer technology should be obvious but those gadgets and gizmos that make life easier and bring us pleasure are important too. Do we want to let those products be developed overseas? We need safer, more fuel efficient automobiles. Would we not be better off if those cars come from American companies? Maybe General Motors' and Chrysler's survival depend on this.

By the time we get to the university level, the damage might already be done, but the university does have much to do with influencing how math and science are taught in K-12. Students must be much better educated and prepared for college level work and these subjects must be taught so they are interesting and engaging for ALL students. More hands on and discovery based science learning should be the model for success. Take away the read and answer questions approach. Make math more real-life and practical. Make it something like a puzzle to be solved. Meanwhile, standards for achievement must keep moving higher and higher.

The STEM shortage applies to teachers of math and science too.

While Ms. Auer-Jones blog considers the problem of women being involved in STEM disciplines another group is discriminated against too, people of faith. It appears implicit to practice science one must be an anthiest. Scientists must be honest about their domain and appreciate not all things can be explained scientifically. While the notion of teaching creationism in science class is implicity ridiculous, science must reexamine its philosophical persona and become more welcoming to people of all backgrounds.

While there is much to discuss in Diane Auer-Jones' conclusion that perhaps women need to develop a more affirmative approach toward attracting more females into the STEM discipline, such efforts cannot happen in isolation against the bigger picture why the STEM disciplines need much more attention in the first place.

Clearly, the culture must change and be more welcoming to people of all backgrounds to answer the awesome challenges we face. Yes, sexism is still alive and well in today's society. In many ways it has become more subliminal and subject to denial. Yet until our society fully embraces a post-feminist stance, those with old school values, femnist perspectives, and post-femnist wisdom will continue to be in conflict, and real women with real aspirations will be the ones losing out.




22. jffoster - March 30, 2010 at 08:34 am

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Rbannist in 21 says "...science must reexamine its philosophical persona and become more welcoming to people of all backgrounds."

Science so far as I can tell is welcoming to "people of all backgrounds". The problem is sometimes with parts of their backgrounds that they try to bring into their scientific foreground. Science is not welcoming to all foregrounds, partly because some foregrounds are simply invulnerable to scientific falsification.

By the way, what exactly does "people of faith" mean, or whom does it refer to? Is it a euphemism for 'religious people'?

23. goxewu - March 30, 2010 at 08:38 am

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Re #21:

"...another group is discriminated against too, people of faith. It appears implicit to practice science one must be an atheist."

Could rbannist explain exactly how this works, other than it's difficult for a serious scientist to entertain the ideas of evolution and "young Earth" simultaneously? Or is this a backdoor reference to the opposition to teaching "Creationism" as science?

24. rbannist - March 30, 2010 at 11:37 pm

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I'll clarify my statement on "people of faith." First, I realize I am refering to a very broad spectrum that does not have a common point of view. Yes, I am refering to religious people.

Science is science. I am not in anyway arguing scientific findings should be rethought or that their research is in any way, shape or form in need of any revision in light of religious values whether they are Christian, Buddhist, or some New Age Spritual Movement.

Scientists rightfully object when some religious factions overstep their boundaries as in those who would demand the teaching of Creationism in favor of evolution in public school science classes.

There is a commonly held attitude among many people of faith that the scientific community treats them as stupid. Because we're scientists we know better than your little fairy tale world of Jesus Christ and the Heavenly Father. As such many relgious people find the world of science intimidating and not a place for them to devote their curiosities.

There's another aspect to this discussion that really is the domain of the philosopher. Not all aspects of reality can be explained scientifically nor can all human experience be explained in scientific terms. Science is a largely a methodology not an idealogy.

Perhaps in much of the northeast and on the west coast, many folks don't appreciate just how "traditional" people are in the heartlands and how foreign the world of science appears to them.

I am not religious in any kind of traditional manner but do believe in God and don't see that my appreciation for science or God conflict in any way whatsoever.

Science is not conducted in a moral vacuum and scientists should be well schooled in matters of ethics and philosophy and openly discuss their scientific work in terms of how it fits into a bigger picture.

I am not really interested in going into a long treatise on this subject for the purpose of this debate. What I am doing is asking that those responsible for supervising the study of science in our nations' great colleges and universities to work to make the study of high level science an attractive pursuit to a much broader population and not create a culture that is intimidating to religious people.

Scientists should welcome their questions, consider them, learn from them without straying from being scientists.

No scientist is ever going to convince a hard core literalist who believes the world is about 15,000 years old and the Book of Genesis is literally true. It's an interesting puzzle to think that many a fundementalist church depends on satellites to broadcast their mission to homes all over the place, but the notion of manmade bodies orbiting the globe would surely be contrary to their literal Biblican world view. That's the extreme.

How can religious people find a place in the lab? That's the challenge I hope I was making. On the broader perspective -- dialogue between the scientist, the philosopher, and the faithful would be healthy for all.

Still, let's converge on the primary concern. Our need for highly trained and capable STEM candidates is not being met. There is no question the ranks of that domain does not attract and retain enough women. The world of science, technology, engineering, and math needs to do some soul searching and perhaps needs to develop a more inclusive personality. The process must involve identifying populations that do not participate in such studies and understand why.

25. rambo - March 31, 2010 at 12:05 am

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according to the NSF, GAO, CRS, etc, women do better in the biological sciences and chemistry and earth sciences and mathematics

but physics and engineering are still the men's provinces....

26. fizmath - March 31, 2010 at 09:59 am

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Why are there no articles on the gender gap in elementary education, speech therapy, nursing and interior design? Why is it always presumed that all fields must be equally divided between male and female?

27. rbannist - March 31, 2010 at 05:28 pm

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#26 Isn't that the age old refuge of sexism? Demonstrate that there are men seeking to get into those professions who feel they are being excluded on the basis of their sex, and there might be a problem. Male nurses are in very high demand. The profession would love to have more.

The STEM disciplines particularly engineering and some sciences are ones where there is a high need for candidates. They are male dominated. Many believe women are not welcome in the club. The discussion focuses on why and what will it take to bring more qualified female candidates into those domains.

28. johnknight - April 05, 2010 at 01:34 pm

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"Why are there no articles on the gender gap in elementary education, speech therapy, nursing and interior design? Why is it always presumed that all fields must be equally divided between male and female?"

No gender gap in those fields? 85% of elementary teachers are women, and you see no gender gap? Ditto for speech therapy, nursing, and interior design?

If you believe there is a gender gap only when women are under-represented, then you might be led to believe this.

What about test scores in STEM? Why has there been no mention on this entire forum about why less than 1% of the highest performers on the Graduate Record Exam are women?

Women are the majority of those admitted to our universities (two thirds, another significant gender gap) and the majority of those graduating from them, yet only 1% of them score at the top? Why should we expect women to be more than 1% of the researchers if they're only 1% of the top scorers on GRE?

29. johnknight - April 06, 2010 at 07:39 am

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To be more specific, of the almost 300,000 who take the Graduate Record Exam each year, almost two thirds are women and only one third are men. If you were looking for graduate men who score three standard deviations higher than the average for top research positions in industry, you would find about 130 per year. This is in a range which is four standard deviations higher than the mean for women where there are only 9 women graduates per year. So in this range, 9.8% would be women and 90.2% would be men.

But if you were to be even more selective than this and require a researcher to be from a range four standard deviations higher than the average score for men, you would find 3 men and no women, or 100% men and 0% women.

If there were an equal number of men and women, rather than two thirds women and one third men, then at the 3 sd level you would find that 5.6% would be women and 94.4% would be men.

Dianne makes some excellent points in her critique of the biased way the original research into this question was conducted. Including the above analysis would make it even better.

Also, for whatever reason, the gender gap in GRE scores has actually been increasing rather than decreasing, indicating that there's something more to this than simply the choices that women in STEM are making, as Dianne suggested.


30. johnknight - April 06, 2010 at 07:54 am

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"The Unites STaets has so much riding on its leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. We've been so far out in front for so long we take it for granted, but decline is at our doorsteps."

That happened decades ago, when in 1983 the US made the last economically competitive semiconductor and Japan took over. Ever since then, 75% of the top patent holders of US patents have been Japanese (and now the Koreans are a generation ahead of Japan in that industry).

At the recent CES show, two Korean companies, Samsung and LG, took first and second place hands down, with Sony a distant third, and HP (the FORMER leader in this industry) wasn't even there (actually they had a booth hiddend way in the back of the cavernous Las Vegas Convention Center where all the containers were store).

While 95% of Japanese and Korean high school students graduate with calculus behind them, less than 5% of ours do, so what else should we expect?

The greatest science around, even by the current definition of science, is the Holy Bible. Their students also get to say a simple prayer to God in their classrooms, while ours don't, and can't.

31. goxewu - April 07, 2010 at 01:22 pm

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"While 95% of Japanese and Korean high school students graduate with calculus behind them, less than 5% of ours do, so what else should we expect?...The greatest science around, even by the current definition of science, is the Holy Bible. Their students also get to say a simple prayer to God in their classrooms, while ours don't, and can't."

Let's see now:

1. The greatest science around is the Holy Bible. (So all those miracles and other supernatural doings are scientific fact.)

2. A simple prayer to the God of the Bible in the high school classroom abets the study of science. (Uh, like, how?)

3. Korean and Japanese high school students are better than our students both because 95 percent of them complete calculus in high school and because they get to say "a simple prayer to God" in their classrooms. (Japan is over 90 percent Buddhist, and South Korea is over half Buddhist, so it's not likely it's the "God" of the Bible they're praying to in class.)

Considering this masterpiece of reasoning, I took a look at the 2006 - 2007 GRE results. (The test was taken, by the way, by well OVER 300,000 people.) It seems that the overall results for men and women are, as the synopsis puts it, "similar." (Women do score slightly lower.) Given the elasticity of the term "highest performers" (just quantitative? the highest tenth? twentieth? top 100 scores?), and knowing that overall women peform just about as well as men, males must have to overpopulate the bottom rungs to make the stats come out right.

johnknight had me, for a minute, thinking he was more or less rational.

32. johnknight - April 07, 2010 at 04:03 pm

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Do you understand that the point about prayer in school is an issue of religious freedom, which our own children enjoyed for almost two centuries, before the Supreme Court banned it in 1963? Do you believe anything good has happened to this putative Christian nation since then? Do you understand that whether or not they are the same "god" is not the point (though Japan is Shinto, which is almost indistinguishable from Christianity, and Korea is now 80% Christian)? Please note that most are not Buddhists as you claim.

All you need to do to understand the point about science is read a few lines of Scripture and look up the definition of science.

When you say "Women do score slightly lower" on GRE, do you realize that what you're referring to as "slightly lower" is a gap of almost two thirds of a standard deviation (0.637 to be precise)? This is HUGE in statistical terms, is it not?

If you instead think it's a small gap, then you probably don't understand the point about the highest scoring students where the gap is a full standard deviation? That's the difference between making or breaking a company or bureaucracy or agency or education institution.

Did the publication you referred to include the "General Test Examinees by Sex and Ethnicity" from the GRE, and did it include the standard deviations? If not, try the following:

http://www.ets.org/Media/Research/pdf/RR-94-01-Grandy.pdf

33. johnknight - April 07, 2010 at 07:20 pm

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http://www.ets.org/Media/Research/pdf/RR-00-08-Gallagher.pdf table 2 also shows the gender gaps for four different races across four different tests follow an identical pattern. For White males and females, the gap is larger than the ont above for GRE, or 0.76 sd, for SAT it's about half an sd or 0.44 sd, and for GMAT it's almost three quarters of a standard deviation, or 0.625 sd.

34. goxewu - April 07, 2010 at 10:03 pm

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While not nearly as numerate as johnknight, I do notice that he didn't answer--yea, verily avoided--the question of what is meant by "less than 1% of the highest performers on the Graduate Record Exam are women." (Tip: It's the mixing of a number ["less than 1 percent"] with an quite inexact non-numerical description ["the highest performers'] that causes the problem. It's like saying "not very many of the top 15 percent are women.")

That glitch still resides within the realm of sanity. To say, however, that Shinto (which is less a religion than a roster of traditions and practices which often overlaps with Buddhism) "is almost indistinguishable from Christianity" is sheer lunacy. (Back on Earth, most reputable sources say that Japan is vast-majority Buddhist, with estimates ranging from 80 to 95 percent. Of course, as with Christians, there are Buddhists and then there are Buddhists. And most reputable sources say that South Korea is 45 to 55 percent Buddhist. Perhaps johnknight has read somewhere that 80 percent of Korean-Americans in America are Christian and has confused that number with that for the Christian population of South Korea.)

It is also plain crazy to ask "Do you believe anything good has happened to this putative Christian nation since [the Supreme Court outlawed school prayer in 1963]" with the heavy implication that the answer is "no." Next to that ding-a-ling-ling, asserting that the the U.S. is a "Christian nation" (this has been the subject of long and serious disagreement, with the assertion deviating more from reality every day), and lamenting the passing of school prayer (it's been 47 years and a few Supreme Courts since school prayer went by the boards, and nobody who's not a fanatic seriously proposes reinstituting it) are just tics.

Anyway, what's johnknight's point behind all the stats? Is it that there's just something biologically determined (i.e., "hard-wired") about women's brains that makes them much less well-suited to research jobs in STEM fields than men, and that this inferiority can never be overcome by education and opportunity? If that's what he means, he should just up and say it.

35. johnknight - April 08, 2010 at 12:16 pm

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Having just taken the time to watch the AAUW video "Why So Few", I know now that Diane was extremely generous with her critique:

http://www.aauw.org/research/whysofew.cfm

If you watch it and don't concur that it's probably one of the stupidest things to ever come out of academia, then it sure would be nice to know what you think IS the stupidest.

"Shintoism 83.9%, Buddhism 71.4%, Christianity 2%, other 7.8%
note: total adherents exceeds 100% because many people belong to both Shintoism and Buddhism (2005)"

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ja.html

"Christian 26.3% (Protestant 19.7%, Roman Catholic 6.6%), Buddhist 23.2%, other or unknown 1.3%, none 49.3% (1995 census)"

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ks.html

Since then, the percentage of Koreans who are Christians almost tripled, to 75%.

There's no debate about whether or not we were founded as a Christian nation: 99% of our Founding Fathers were Protestants and 1% were Catholics who had no doubt about what they meant by the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.

36. johnknight - April 08, 2010 at 12:18 pm

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"While not nearly as numerate as johnknight, I do notice that he didn't answer--yea, verily avoided--the question of what is meant by 'less than 1% of the highest performers on the Graduate Record Exam are women.'"

It's not clear which part you didn't understand.

How can it be made any clearer?

Let's take a different approach to attempt to make it clearer. Where you indicate that you believe that three quarters of a standard deviation in GRE scores means that women score only "slightly lower" than men, let's examine what this means for an even narrower gap in SAT math scores of only 50 points (492 vs. 452).

If you were to view this as a graph, you would see that half the boys score higher than 492, but only 5% of the girls do.

The question you ought to be asking is why, if girls are only 5% of those who score higher than 492, boys are only one third of college admissions, and only one third of those taking the GRE test, while girls are two thirds in both categories.

Isn't this inviduous discrimination?

You also ought to be asking what this does to the academic skill of the average American college graduate today, and how that carries forward to industry, and why it means we simply cannot compete with education systems and economies which have not saddled their schools and corporations in such a way (like those in Korea, Japan, and Germany).

Certainly you don't consider it to be "progress" if two thirds of our graduate school graduates score .75 sd lower than those who were DENIED admission to graduate schools in the first place?

37. goxewu - April 08, 2010 at 04:50 pm

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Well, at least we got the religious insanity out of the way, and johnknight is no longer saying that "Shinto...is almost indistinguishable from Christianity. (I did want to ask, though, exactly why johnknight seems to believe that nothing good has happened to this "anything good has happened to "this putative Christian nation" since the Supreme Court outlawed school prayer in 1963? Is it God's vengeance, or just a koinkydink?)

Stats from a 1995 Korean census say that only about a quarter of Koreans were Christians then, compared the 80 percent johnknight claimed. To plug the gap, johnknight now says, "Since then, the percentage of Koreans who are Christians almost tripled, to 75 percent." Really? A 2005 South Korean census says that about 29 percent of South Koreans claim to be Christian.

Anyway, all I'm asking is that the statement "less than 1 percent of the highest performers on the Graduate Record Exam are women" be translated into a total stat, e.g., "less than 1 percent of the top 10 percent of the scores on the GRE are achieved by women." Is that too much to ask of a numbers wonk of the order of johnknight?

Who founded the United States is not the same as what the United States was founded as. Interesting fact: No mention of Christianity in the founding governing document, the Constitution. And even if there were some sub rosa intent to found the U.S. as a "Christian nation," times change. Lots of things were founded as one thing (e.g., exclusively male, exclusively white) and are now quite another (sexually and racially inclusive). And right now, this ain't no Christian nation.

Finally, and again:

"Is it that there's just something biologically determined (i.e., 'hard-wired') about women's brains that makes them much less well-suited to research jobs in STEM fields than men, and that this inferiority can never be overcome by education and opportunity? If that's what he means, he should just up and say it." Well?

38. johnknight - April 09, 2010 at 04:30 am

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"Anyway, all I'm asking is that the statement "less than 1 percent of the highest performers on the Graduate Record Exam are women" be translated into a total stat".

The ETS does an excellent job of presenting a humongous amount of data in a relatively easy way to search it on the internet. If you don't like the way it's been presented here, or if you don't believe it, research it yourself so you can confirm that statement. The above reference to three standard deviations higher than the average GRE scores represents 1.4% of the test takers. 1,0White men, score higher than 949

 

 

Part of the prior post was cut off, so this is a partial repeat of the above:

"Anyway, all I'm asking is that the statement "less than 1 percent of the highest performers on the Graduate Record Exam are women" be translated into a total stat".

The ETS does an excellent job of presenting a humongous amount of data in a relatively easy way to search it on the internet. If you don't like the way it's been presented here, or if you don't believe it, research it yourself so you can confirm that statement. At the risk of repeating myself, the above reference to three standard deviations higher than the average GRE scores represents 1.4% of the test takers. If the test scores were not capped at 800, 1,040 White boys would score higher than 949 (three standard deviations higher than their average of 586), 71 Asian boys would score higher than 989 (three standard deviations higher than their average of 638), and 1,946 White girls would score higher than 853 (three standard deviations higher than their average of 514).

It's not until we get out to four standard deviations higher for White girls, a score of 966, that we can make a meaningful comparison to White boys who score higher than 949 and Asian boys who score higher than 989. And at that range, and decade upon decade, only 0.00317% of the girls, or 4 of them, have scored that high each year.

Of these three groups of students, there are 1,115 of them, and only 4, or 0.36% of them, are girls.

This is the only reason boys are over-represented in STEMS. Just of these three groups, boys constitute 99.74% of the highest scoring students.

So why should males not be 99.74% of the top researchers?

"Is it that there's just something biologically determined (i.e., 'hard-wired') about women's brains that makes them much less well-suited to research jobs in STEM fields than men, and that this inferiority can never be overcome by education and opportunity? If that's what he means, he should just up and say it." Well?


There was a lot of press about how the gender gap had narrowed in SAT Math. A look at the underlying data suggested that this actually might have been true. i.e., for several decades, until 1993, the percent of girls who scored higher than 550 increased from 35% to 38% (and correspondingly the percent of boys who did decreased from 65% to 62%). Ditto for the percent of girls who scored higher than 700, which increased from 20% to 26%, and for those scoring higher than 750 (from 15% to 19%).

But then suddenly this trend reversed itself, all the alleged gains plus some were wiped out, and the media was deadly silent about it. A great example is how the gap in GRE quantitative scores between Black women and Asian men just recently jumped one third of a standard deviation, from 234 to 267.

If women had actually made any gains in STEMS (and in particular math), then this would certainly have been the centerpiece of an AAUW study entitle "why so few". Instead, they were even more deadly silent about this reversal in the trend in the gender gap than the media was.

And if that's not the most complete answer you could possibly get to your question, then please let me know what's missing );

 

 

40. goxewu - April 09, 2010 at 08:16 am

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I appreciate johnknight running me (and all the other "Brainstorm" readers) through his workup process to arrive at "less than 1 percent of the highest performers on the Graduate Record Exam are women." Alas, "completeness" is not the issue.

For the simplest, clearest answer, would johnknight mind filling in the following blank: "Less that 1 percent of the top [[x percent]] of the highest scores on the GRE are attained by women."

Optional, for extra credit: "What does the above statistic mean concerning women and research careers in STEM fields--a) that they're simply genetically inferior regarding them, b) that more work needs to be done regarding education and opportunies for women in STEM fields, c) other?"

Optional, for extra extra credit: "The Christian population of South Korea represents [[x percent]] of the whole population of South Korea."

Optional, for extra extra extra credit: "Shintoism is similar to Christianity in the following ways: [[ ]]."

Optional, for extra extra extra extra credit: "The main reason why nothing good has happened to this putatively Christian nation since the Supreme Court outlawed school prayer in 1963 is: [[ ]]."


41. rbannist - April 11, 2010 at 02:06 pm

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I find it interesting that every time discussions focus on women being under represented in some field, surely somebody's going to argue as johnknight did, ""Why are there no articles on the gender gap in elementary education, speech therapy, nursing and interior design? Why is it always presumed that all fields must be equally divided between male and female?"

Find the examples of men who feel they are being excluded in these fields, and then there might be something to talk about. While I'm not sure there's much information about "interior design" the other professions cited definitely are looking for men to join their ranks. There is a huge market for male nurses (as there are for nurses in general.)

We can get involved in the game of comparing this study to that study and try to quantify everything and surely someone somewhere at some university or think tank will find something someone can footnote in an argument. The bottom line is our future as a nation and a culture depends on our leadership in the STEM disciplines. Women are under represented in the STEM domains and many women feel their is a hostile climate within those disciplines. Some will accept Auer-Jones' assessment. Others will reach different conclusions.

The bottom line is from early childhood education onward, we need to assess how our programs are geared toward motivating female students to become involved in these fields.

While some might find this argument sexist, little boys and little girls (and probably much bigger ones) don't necessarily learn the same way. We don't study how boys learn as opposed to how girls learn or vice versa because making sexual distinctions can be seen as sexist, but both biologically and culturally members of each sex face different challenges as they mature. None of these differences justify any kind of exclusionary practices. All humans are capable of great intellectual accomplishments but how we develop our abilities and interests is not always going to be the same.

We can ignore this issue and hope it gets better. We can try the approach of trying to establish quotas, entollment goals, and using set-aside grants -- an inherently prejudiced practice that might not bring the best candidates into the field. We can look the fields themselves, how they do business, and work to make them more welcoming environments.

In the meantime, China, India, Western Europe, and others are gaining on the United States. Our national security and economic strength is due in part to our leadership in innovation and research in these vital fields. This is no intellectual exercise. This is more than another one of those gender-bias things. This is a real issue that demand realistic answers.

How do our institutions attract the best possible candidates representing the widest background of people possible to create the most innovative, future-oriented STEM programs and applications possible?

The many responses to Ms. Auer-Jones blog show how far off and how confused many factions are on the issue.

42. johnknight - April 12, 2010 at 04:01 pm

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"How do our institutions attract the best possible candidates representing the widest background of people possible to create the most innovative, future-oriented STEM programs and applications possible?"

First of all, we get rid of affirmative action as two thirds of California voters did with Proposition 209.

Second of all, we end the invidious discrimination against boys in education where, even though they're two thirds of the students who score higher than 550 on SAT math, constitute only one third of college admissions and one third of those taking the Graduate Record Exam.

Third of all, we set a minimum score on SAT math, rather than basing admissions on discriminatory and irrelevant (to productivity) factors.



The average GRE quantitative score has been around 529. If two thirds of those taking the test were boys rather than girls, the average would be 552, and if 100% were boys the average would be 576, almost two thirds of a standard deviation higher than it is now.

How can we improve future-oriented STEM programs as long as we continue a policy which we KNOW will reduce the academic qualifications by our students by that much?

These countries that we no longer cannot compete with in the global economy don't do such things. Japan experimented with it in the mid-1980s but was smart enough to see the problems right away, and ended it quickly.

43. johnknight - April 19, 2010 at 07:28 am

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"The main reason why nothing good has happened to this putatively Christian nation since the Supreme Court outlawed school prayer in 1963 is: [[ ]]."

The following is a short list. Which do you consider to be the "main reason"? All of them? Just one of them?


1.800,000 Americans were murdered, 600,000 by blacks.
2.The percentage of murders which were resolved plunged from 92% to 60%.
3.Fatherlessness octupled to 48% and our feminist politicians can't even detect a problem.
4.Our divorce rate increased fifty fold to the highest rate in the world.
5.42 million babies were aborted in the womb, an act of murder in the eyes of 57% of American citizens.
6.Excluding abortion, our murder rate tripled to one of the highest in the world as the number of gun control laws skyrocketed to 22,000.
7.The "drug war" paralleled a 45% increase in cocaine use.
8.SAT scores declined 98 points leaving the US DEAD LAST in more TIMSS subjects than any other country.
9.The amount of time PER DAY that children watch TV increased from 5 hours to 7 hours.
10.Health services costs increased eight fold to 14% of GDP even though many nations with 4 year longer life expectancies spend only 6% of GDP.
11.Just the paperwork required to meet government regulations in health care consumes 3% of GDP.
12.Alcohol consumption decreased 18% which costs 35,000 lives/year.
13.Violent crime increased 560%, illegitimate births increased 419%, and single-parent households increased 3000% (source: The Guardian).14.The average body weight of an American increased 29 pounds.
15.Drunk driving arrests increased five fold to 1.6 million per year and the rate of men behind bars for DUI exceeds the total incarceration rate for all crimes in many countries.
16.The motor vehicle fatality rate increased from 30% lower than Germany's to 45% higher.
17.The rate at which men commit suicide increased to five times that of women.
18.Sexual assault convictions increased ten fold to two thirds of the world's rape convictions.
19.DNA studies proved that one half of convicted men are innocent as charged.
20.Criminal Justice System expenditures increased ten fold to $360 billion and now exceed national defense by $100 billion.
21.Prison inmates increased ten fold to a rate five times China and South Africa, making American men a third of the men in the world behind bars.
22.The value of the dollar plunged three quarters (per Consumer Price Index), and by ten fold by the gold standard (from $38/oz to $380/oz).
23.The US became the only industrialized nation with a negative personal savings rate.
24.Autos supplied by U.S. manufacturers plunged from 60% to 20% of the world market.
25.We spent more for welfare than the value of every Fortune 500 corporation and every acre of farm land, combined.
26.Government spending doubled to 42 cents of each wage dollar, while it remained at 24 cents in Japan
27.GDP per worker decreased two thirds by the gold standard
28.Public Debt increased 9 fold to $5.9 trillion.
29.Consumer debt increased 25 fold, from $63 billion to $1.6 trillion.
30.Housing debt increased 25 fold to $5 trillion.
31.The U.S. became the largest debtor nation in world history with an average net worth per household of a *negative* $77,000.
32.Interest payments on the debts increased to greater than the gross savings rate of 15% of GDP for the first time since the Great Depression, yet Japan continued to save 33% per year with no debts.
33.Gross savings decreased from $11 trillion to zero as Japan's increased to $22 trillion.
34.Our balance of payments, positive for two centuries before the CRA, is now almost half a trillion dollars in the red.
35.The number of U.S. banks in the Top 40 World Banks declined from 22 to 1(with assets of $120 billion) as the number of Japanese increased to 24 (with assets of $5,000 Billion).
36.The 60% plunge in the US stock markets took another $7 trillion out of personal savings.
37.The number of lawyers increased to 60 times that of Japan as the number of engineers declined to less than a quarter of Japan.
38.The ratio of manufacturing employees to government employees declined from 2.5:1 to less than 1:1.
39.Feminism became a nationwide disease which left 22 million American children without natural parents.
40.Blacks:
1.The purchasing power of the average black family is one third of what it was before the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
2.The percentage of black children growing fatherless quintupled to 78%.
3.The percentage of blacks below the age of 33 who have been imprisoned in their lifetimes quintupled to 75%.
4.The number of blacks in prison increased to more than one million, more than there are in all of Africa with 800 million blacks, and twice as many as there were slaves at the height of slavery.
5.The odds that Blacks will be murdered increased to 350 times greater than residents of North Dakota.
6.Social transfer payments to Blacks increased to $16 for every dollar they contribute to GDP.

44. johnknight - April 19, 2010 at 07:48 am

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"Shintoism is similar to Christianity in the following ways: [[ ]]."

Many of us Americans who lived in or grew up in Japan and had a chance to observe and discuss the way the Japanese live and what their laws and customs are pretty much agree that the Japanese follow Biblical principles much closer than we do. For example, usury is against the law in Japan, just as it's a sin in the Holy Bible, yet it's now legal here. Their dietary habits are a very close match to the Holy Bible, but ours are no longer even close. Their laws against "Pharmakeia" follow the Biblical prohibitions, but most Americans don't even know what it means. They uphold adultery laws in accord with Scripture, but we don't. Divorce is a sin in Scripture, something the Japanese supreme court just reconfirmed in a brilliant statement, while divorce here has almost become a badge of honor.

While the Japanese follow the Word of God, all we do is talk about it. At least they know what it is while most Americans no longer do. Why? While their children, and children all the way from Korea to Russia to Norway are allowed to say a simple school prayer in their own classrooms, our aren't.

45. johnknight - April 19, 2010 at 01:14 pm

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"The bottom line is from early childhood education onward, we need to assess how our programs are geared toward motivating female students to become involved in these fields."

As a father with both sons and daughters, the above statement makes me suspect that you're not.

For what reason should we encourage girls to enter fields they're not interested in and not qualified to enter? When you buy a daughter a toy designed for boys and she rejects it, while the son jumps right on it, you tend to dismiss this notion that the vast differences between males and females is caused by society rather than by nature, or by design.

You're setting them up for an unnecessary and counterproductive gender war which does no group (other than our global economic competitors) any good. You're also setting up girls for failure and frustration by telling them they can do things they can't do. And you're greatly shortchanging boys when, even though they constitute two thirds of those who score over 550 in SAT Math, are now less than a third of college admissions.

46. johnknight - April 19, 2010 at 02:18 pm

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There aren't a whole lot of web sites with the information "GRE general test score information by ethnic group and sex", and the following is a bit outdated (1995-96 scores), but it ought to fill in the blank on "Less that 1 percent of the top [[x percent]] of the highest scores on the GRE are attained by women".

If you have even the slightest interest in math, it's very easy for you to do this yourself. If not, let me know and I'll do the math for you. We should also note that the gender gaps for all races except blacks actually increased considerably since 1995:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0DXK/is_n3_v15/ai_20496442/pg_7/

GRE General Test Score Information

Quantitative Analytical
Group Mean SD Mean SD

American Indian 490 129 516 129
Men 533 135 532 133
Women 463 117 506 126
Asian/Pacific 597 124 558 129
Men 635 118 567 133
Women 570 121 552 125
Black/African 409 116 423 115
Men 441 129 426 121
Women 397 107 422 112
Mexican American 470 124 481 122
Men 512 129 493 127
Women 443 112 474 118
Puerto Rican 465 125 457 120
Men 509 131 468 122
Women 437 112 450 118
Other Hispanic 491 126 500 127
Men 538 131 518 130
Women 465 116 492 124
White 538 123 564 119
Men 585 124 578 122
Women 511 115 557 117
Other 543 132 557 134
Men 583 128 573 130
Women 509 126 543 135
Total 527 129 548 127
Men 574 130 563 130
Women 500 121 540 125

47. johnknight - April 19, 2010 at 04:19 pm

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This table didn't post correctly, so to clarify the point, note that black women score 397 in GRE quantitative, which is 238 points lower than Asian men at 635. Since the standard deviation for black women is 107, this is a gender gap of 2.224 standard deviations.

This means that less than 200 black women score as high as the average Asian man, and no black woman scores as high as 753, a score which more than 815 Asian men score higher than.

Also, more than 1,740 White men score higher than that.

So we can say that:

"[zero] percent of the top [[15.86552 percent]] of the highest scores [for Asian men] on the GRE are attained by [black] women".

AND:

"[zero] percent of the top [[2.2275 percent]] of the highest scores [for White men] on the GRE are attained by [black] women".

AND:

"Less that 1 percent of the top [[9 percent]] of the highest scores [for black men] on the GRE are attained by [black] women" even though almost three times as many black women as black men take the GRE.

Amongst all races, the smallest gender gap is for blacks. But because black men score 44 points higher than black women in the first place, and because their standard deviation is larger (129 vs. 107), a score for black men which is two standard deviations higher than their average is equivalent to a score for black women which is almost three standard deviations higher than their average.

So 2.3% of black men score higher than the top 0.135% of black women, a ratio of 17:1.

48. johnknight - April 19, 2010 at 06:03 pm

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"What does the above statistic mean concerning women and research careers in STEM fields--a) that they're simply genetically inferior regarding them, b) that more work needs to be done regarding education and opportunies for women in STEM fields, c) other?"

In the 1960's, before all these attempts to narrow the gender gap began in earnest, girls actually scored higher than boys on some verbal tests. It seems that all of these attempts backfired, though, because ever since the 1970's, boys have scored significantly higher than girls, at least on SAT verbal. In the 1970's girls were 48% of those who scored higher than 750, but now they're less than 38% on a subject where you would expect boys and girls to be more equally matched.

A similar pattern was followed on the lower test score ranges, but not as dramatic. In the 1970's, girls were less than 48% of those who scored higher than 550, but now they're less than 46%, a trend which is the reverse of what the media expects, or reports.

If you understand these words, you ought to be able to answer your own question, particularly when you combine this with what you now know about the gender gaps in SAT math scores and GRE quantitative scores.

Why don't YOU now answer the question about why society ought to accept this dumbing down of our culture and education system by allowing the least qualified to be admitted while rejecting the most qualified, and thus reducing the academic skills of our graduates by almost one standard deviation?

49. johnknight - April 20, 2010 at 09:38 am

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"Find the examples of men who feel they are being excluded in these fields, and then there might be something to talk about. While I'm not sure there's much information about 'interior design' the other professions cited definitely are looking for men to join their ranks. There is a huge market for male nurses (as there are for nurses in general.)"

If science and engineering are important to this country, then you ought to be concerned that the most qualified students are the ones who are given the greatest opportunity for an advanced education, rather than the other way around. But that's not the way it works, at least not according to the following NSF report on "Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering" [their terms, not mine]:

http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/figf-2.htm

What it shows is that, since 1989, science and engineering doctoral degrees to the most qualified students have remained flat while degrees to "underrepresented minorities" [presumably women who are a majority, other races, and disabled people] more than tripled. This, while degrees in "non-S&E" [not science and engineering] to the most qualified students increased 30% and to "underrepresented minorities" also tripled.

Is that a win/win in your view? Do you think this will set the world afire? Will we become an advanced technological society by giving ever more doctorate degrees in history to the disabled?

50. johnknight - April 22, 2010 at 10:14 am

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"In the meantime, China, India, Western Europe, and others are gaining on the United States. Our national security and economic strength is due in part to our leadership in innovation and research in these vital fields. This is no intellectual exercise. This is more than another one of those gender-bias things. This is a real issue that demand realistic answers."

What you are talking about is American history.

Today the highest paid Americans are hamburger flippers and Walmart greeters. All of our products, all the way from shoes to semiconductors, are made everywhere but here. Even Portugal is in on the act, now making semiconductors while we no longer can.

The problem is affirmative action. You can't dumb down our universities by at least one standard deviation and expect to continue to compete in STEMS. 5% of our high school students graduate with calculus behind them, compared to 65% of Germans and more than 95% of Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese. Many American high school students are lucky to even take algebra, and even then they are lucky to have a teacher who understands the subject better than they do themselves.

Why?

Teachers in those countries come from the highest academic arena while ours come from the lowest. That's a prescription for failure, not success, and particularly not success in STEMS.

If we don't immediately, like today, revamp our education system and demand the absolutely highest qualified math and science teachers, at ALL costs (as they already have in countries like Korea), we are a complete and total loss with no chance of recovery.

51. johnknight - April 23, 2010 at 01:44 pm

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This gender gap within races in the US on the GRE test is not an anomaly. It exists in every country, and it expands greatly between 8th and 12th grade in every country:


A=12th Grade
B=8th Grade
C=Sex
D=
E=
F=Country

A B C D E F
--- --- ---- --- --- ---------
700* 642 Boys 0 Yes Singapore
655* 615 Boys 0 Yes Korea
649* 609 Boys 0 Yes Japan
637* 597 Boys 0 Yes HongKong
603* 563 Boys 0 Yes Belgium
589* 549 Boys 0 Yes SlovakRepublic
589 505 Boys 0 Yes Norway
586 520 Boys 0 Yes Sweden
585* 545 Boys 0 Yes Netherlands
585* 545 Boys 0 Yes Bulgaria
579* 539 Boys 0 Yes Israel
576 545 Boys 0 Yes Slovenia
575* 535 Boys 0 Yes Ireland
570* 530 Boys 0 Yes Belgium
563 535 Boys 0 Yes Russia
561 472 Boys 0 Yes Cyprus
552* 512 Boys 0 Yes NewZealand
548* 508 Boys 0 Yes England
547* 537 Boys 0 Yes Hungary
547* 517 Boys 0 Yes Thailand
546* 506 Boys 0 Yes Scotland
540 511 Boys 0 Yes Denmark
525 490 Boys 0 Yes Greece
524 527 Boys 0 Yes Australia
519 548 Boys 0 Yes Switzerland
515 512 Boys 0 Yes Germany
514 569 Boys 0 Yes CzechRepublic
509 496 Boys 0 Yes Latvia
499 526 Boys 0 Yes Canada
492* 492 Boys 0 Yes Spain
488* 488 Boys 0 Yes Iceland
483* 483 Boys 0 Yes Romania
477* 477 Boys 0 Yes Lithuania
470 542 Boys 0 Yes France**
460* 460 Boys 0 Yes Portugal
459 544 Boys 0 Yes Austria
446 502 Boys 32 No UnitedStates
434* 434 Boys 0 Yes "Iran,Islamic"
416* 472 Boys 0 No California
416* 386 Boys 0 Yes Colombia
400* 360 Boys 0 Yes SouthAfrica
394* 394 Boys 0 Yes Kuwait
632* 645 Girls 0 Yes Singapore
587* 600 Girls 0 Yes Japan
585* 598 Girls 0 Yes Korea
564* 577 Girls 0 Yes HongKong
554* 567 Girls 0 Yes Belgium
532* 545 Girls 0 Yes SlovakRepublic
524* 537 Girls 0 Yes Hungary
523* 536 Girls 0 Yes Netherlands
523 501 Girls 0 Yes Norway
522* 535 Girls 0 Yes Bulgaria
517 518 Girls 0 Yes Sweden
513* 526 Girls 0 Yes Thailand
511* 524 Girls 0 Yes Belgium
507 536 Girls 0 Yes RussianFederation
507* 520 Girls 0 Yes Ireland
496* 509 Girls 0 Yes Israel
496 475 Girls 0 Yes Cyprus
490* 503 Girls 0 Yes NewZealand
489* 504 Girls 0 Yes England
489 478 Girls 0 Yes Greece
487 537 Girls 0 Yes Slovenia
483 494 Girls 0 Yes Denmark
477* 490 Girls 0 Yes Scotland
474 532 Girls 0 Yes Australia
473* 486 Girls 0 Yes Iceland
470* 483 Girls 0 Yes Spain
468 491 Girls 0 Yes Latvia
467* 480 Girls 0 Yes Romania
465* 478 Girls 0 Yes Lithuania
453 509 Girls 0 Yes Germany
449* 449 Girls 0 Yes Portugal
444 543 Girls 0 Yes Switzerland
440 558 Girls 0 Yes CzechRepublic
440 530 Girls 0 Yes Canada
437 536 Girls 0 Yes France**
423* 527 Girls 0 Yes US Catholic
421* 421 Girls 0 Yes "Iran,Islamic"
400* 390 Girls 0 Yes Kuwait
399 536 Girls 0 Yes Austria
394* 384 Girls 0 Yes Colombia
394* 349 Girls 0 Yes SouthAfrica
393 497 Girls 32 No UnitedStates
363* 467 Girls 0 No California

52. johnknight - April 24, 2010 at 04:45 pm

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These international math scores highlight that the highest scoring countries, those whose boys score higher than 580, also have the largest gender gaps, generally higher than 60 and as high as 89, while the lowest scoring countries where boys score lower than 490 also have the smallest gender gaps, generally smaller than 20, and as low as 6 (with boys in Kuwait, one of the lowest scoring of this list, actually scoring 6 points lower than girls).

By some estimates, SAT math scores in the US have dropped 132 points in the last 4-5 decades, leaving our boys with a score 254 points lower than boys in Singapore and 157 points lower than Belgium. Even though our gender gap is a bit larger than the other countries in this low range of scores (53), our girls still scored 239 points lower than girls in Singapore and 161 points lower than girls in Belgium.

These consistent gender gaps in international scores also answer the question "Are Women Partly to Blame for the Gender Gap in STEM Fields?", because they indicate that neither men or women are capable of increasing the percentage of women in STEM fields without dramatically decreasing our economic productivity and competitiveness.

Japan and Korea now compete very effectively with us in the semiconductor industry because they have not been sidetracked by this gender war and thus have been able to focus their energy on cultivating and producing superior male scientists and engineers.

The proof of this is that Japanese engineeers and scientists have been 75-85% of the top patent holders of OUR patents for a decade or more now. Korea may soon replace them, as evidenced by two Korean companies winning hands down at the recent Consumer Electronics Show, and Sony coming in a distant third (and HP not even being present).

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