diversity

First Muslim University in U.S. Is Accredited

Zaytuna College has become the first accredited Muslim college in the United States, after the college commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges granted its approval, The Los Angeles Times reported. Zaytuna is based in Berkeley, Calif.

U. of Alabama Students Elect Black President

For the first time in almost 40 years and just the second time in history, the University of Alabama's Student Government Association has a black president, AL.com reported. With his election, Elliot Spillers, a junior business management major who is enrolled in the university's honors college, becomes the first African-American to lead the student government since 1976. The development comes about 18 months after the university faced significant criticism over the segregation of its sororities.

Spillers's electoral triumph was noteworthy for another reason, too, the Alabama publication reported: he was elected without the support of "The Machine," which the university's student newspaper has described as a secret coalition of Greek organizations that are thought to control student institutions.

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Advice for a young black woman in academe about not being called Doctor

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A young black female academic notices that students call her colleagues Doctor or Professor, but she is addressed by her first name. Kerry Ann Rockquemore reviews her options.

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Authors discuss their book on Harvard students with disabilities

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Authors discuss their new book on the stories of Harvard students with disabilities.

Scholarly associations file briefs in Supreme Court cases on gay marriage

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Associations representing historians, psychologists and sociologists -- based on research in their disciplines -- urge Supreme Court to recognize gay and lesbian marriage rights.

Wheaton of Illinois Reacts to K.K.K. Skit

Officials at Wheaton College in Illinois are criticizing a skit by members of the football team who dressed up in Ku Klux Klan robes as part of an off-season event in which team members do comic sketches, The Chicago Tribune reported. The students -- who also used Confederate flags -- say that they were trying to mock racists, not be racist. But many are concerned that the students didn't know how offensive their costumes and props were to many on campus.

 

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Fraternity Caught on Video Singing Racist Song

The national headquarters of Sigma Alpha Epsilon closed its University of Oklahoma chapter on Sunday after a video surfaced online showing its members singing a racist song about not allowing black students to join the fraternity. 

"There will never be a nigger at SAE," the students sang to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It," while dressed in formal attire and riding a bus. "You can hang him from a tree, but he'll never sign with me. There will never be a nigger at SAE." (The video clip is at the end of this article.)

In a statement Sunday, David Boren, Oklahoma's president, called the behavior "reprehensible," and promised an investigation. "If the reports are true, the chapter will no longer remain on campus," Boren said prior to SAE's announcement. Unheard OU, the student activist group that publicized the video, said it planned to protest on campus Monday. 

Touted as the only national fraternity founded in the antebellum South, Sigma Alpha Epsilon members agree to memorize and follow a creed known as The True Gentleman.

In 2013, the Washington University in St. Louis chapter of SAE was suspended after some of its pledges were instructed to direct racial slurs at a group of black students. Last year, 15 SAE members at the University of Arizona broke into a historically Jewish off-campus fraternity and physically assaulted its members while yelling discriminatory comments at them. In December, Clemson University's SAE chapter was suspended after the fraternity hosted a "cripmas" party where students dressed up as gang members.

 

 

Wellesley Will Admit Transgender Applicants

Wellesley College announced Thursday that it will admit transgender women. In addition to admitting those who were born as women and consider themselves women, the college will now "consider for admission any applicant who lives as a woman and consistently identifies as a woman."

 

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Rising price of Virginia public universities disproportionately hurts low-income students

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An “extraordinarily” detailed analysis of student-level data in Virginia shows low-income students were hit hardest as public colleges and universities raised tuition during Great Recession.

Essay calls for ending the 'leaky pipeline' metaphor when discussing women in science

For decades, debates about gender and science have often assumed that women are more likely than men to “leak” from the science and engineering pipeline after entering college.

However, new research of which I am the coauthor shows this pervasive leaky pipeline metaphor is wrong for nearly all postsecondary pathways in science and engineering. It also devalues students who want to use their technical training to make important societal contributions elsewhere.

How could the metaphor be so wrong? Wouldn’t factors such as cultural beliefs and gender bias cause women to leave science at higher rates?

My research, published last month in Frontiers in Psychology, shows this metaphor was at least partially accurate in the past. The bachelor’s-to-Ph.D. pipeline in science and engineering leaked more women than men among college graduates in the 1970's and 80's, but not recently.

Men still outnumber women among Ph.D. earners in fields like physical science and engineering. However, this representation gap stems from college major choices, not persistence after college. 

Other research finds remaining persistence gaps after the Ph.D. in life science, but surprisingly not in physical science or engineering -- fields in which women are more underrepresented. Persistence gaps in college are also exaggerated.

Consequently, this commonly used metaphor is now fatally flawed. As blogger Biochembelle discussed, it can also unfairly burden women with guilt about following paths they want. “It’s almost as if we want women to feel guilty about leaving the academic track,” she said.

Some depictions of the metaphor even show individuals funneling into a drain, never to make important contributions elsewhere.

In reality, many students who leave the traditional boundaries of science and engineering use their technical training creatively in other fields such as health, journalism and politics.

As one recent commentary noted, Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel were leaks in the science pipeline. I dare someone to claim that they funneled into a drain because they didn’t become tenured science professors. No takers? Didn’t think so.

Men also frequently leak from the traditional boundaries of science and engineering, as my research and other studies show. So why do we unfairly stigmatize women who make such transitions?

By some accounts, I’m a leak myself. I earned my bachelor’s degree in the “hard” science of physics before moving into psychology. Even though I’m male, I still encountered stigma when peers told me psychology was a “soft” science or not even science at all. I can only imagine the stigma that women might face when making similar transitions.

The U.S. needs more women and men who use their technical skills to improve social good. Last summer, I participated in a program to help students do just that -- it was the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Data Science for Social Good Summer Fellowship.

For this fellowship, I worked with two computer science graduate students and one bioengineering postdoc on a “big data” project for improving student success in high school. We partnered with Montgomery Public County Schools in Maryland to improve their early warning system. This system used warning signs such as declining grades to identify students who could benefit from additional supports.

This example shows why the leaky pipeline narrative is so absurd. Many leaks in the pipeline continue using their technical skills in important ways. For instance, my team’s data science skills helped improve our partner’s warning system, doubling performance in some cases.

Let’s abandon this inaccurate and pejorative metaphor. It unfairly stigmatizes women and perpetuates outdated assumptions.

Some have argued that my research indicates bad news because the gender gaps in persistence were closed by declines for men, not increases for women. However, others have noted how the findings could also be good news, given concerns about Ph.D. overproduction.

More importantly, this discussion of good news and bad news misses the point: the new data inform a new way forward.

By abandoning exclusive focus on the leaky pipeline metaphor, we can focus more effort on encouraging diverse students to join these fields in the first place. Helping lead the way forward, my alma mater -- Harvey Mudd College -- has had impressive success in encouraging women to pursue computer science.

Maria Klawe, Mudd’s first female president, led extensive efforts to make the introductory computer science courses more inviting to diverse students. For instance, course revisions emphasized how computational approaches can help solve pressing societal problems.

The results were impressive. Although women used to earn only 10 percent of Mudd’s computer science degrees, this number quadrupled over the years after Klawe became president. To help replicate these results more widely, we should abandon outdated assumptions and instead help students take diverse paths into science.

David Miller is an advanced doctoral student in psychology at Northwestern University. His current research aims to understand why some students move into and out of science and engineering fields.

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