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posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the this-will-not-be-controversial-oh-no-sir dept.

GungnirSniper writes:

"Catherine Rampell at The Washington Post has 'A message to the nation's women: Stop trying to be straight-A students.'

In her analysis of others' findings, she writes of a discouragement gradient that pushes women out of harder college degrees, including economics and other STEM degrees. Men do not seem to have a similar discouragement gradient, so they stay in harder degree programs and ultimately earn more. Data suggests that women might also value high grades more than men do and sort themselves into fields where grading curves are more lenient.

'Maybe women just don't want to get things wrong,' Goldin hypothesized. 'They don't want to walk around being a B-minus student in something. They want to find something they can be an A student in. They want something where the professor will pat them on the back and say "You're doing so well!"'

'Guys,' she added, 'don't seem to give two damns.'

Why are women in college moving away from harder degrees?"

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  • (Score: -1, Troll) by katterjohn on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:46PM

    by katterjohn (2905) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:46PM (#15515)

    ...girls suck at math? [xkcd.com]

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Koen on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:18PM

      by Koen (427) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:18PM (#15537)

      Is "girls suck at math" is an American thing?

      I just corrected "quantitative methods" midterm exams last weekend, the top 5 of my class has 4 girls and 1 guy in it - and the two perfect exams were by girls. When I was a student in primary school, high school and at university I have always known at least as many girls as boys who were performing excellent in mathematics.

      Before I read it on websites, I have never encountered the expression "girls suck at math".

      --
      /. refugees on Usenet: comp.misc [comp.misc]
      • (Score: 1, Troll) by VLM on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:34PM

        by VLM (445) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:34PM (#15546)

        Its a meme thing, and its false. In the whole STEM field, math is the closest to 50:50 ratio. Its closer to 50:50 than many "soft" degrees.

        I think its selective memory. I didn't like diffeqs although I found the electronics classes comparatively easy. Something like 3/4 of the freshmen dropped out or transferred into something else before graduation, including ALL the girls. ALL of them. Well, electronics is easy, so it must have been the math, so all girls must be bad at math.

        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Daniel Dvorkin on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:50PM

          by Daniel Dvorkin (1099) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:50PM (#15559) Journal

          In the whole STEM field, math is the closest to 50:50 ratio.

          Really? I'm not saying you're wrong, but I'd like to see the data on this.

          --
          Pipedot [pipedot.org]:Soylent [soylentnews.org]::BSD:Linux
        • (Score: 2, Informative) by Hawkwind on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:06PM

          by Hawkwind (3531) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:06PM (#15575)

          I just took a look at some simple Mathematics PhD data and women were around 26%. Granted you didn't say what kind of mathematics degrees, any chance your thinking bachelors level?

          • (Score: 1) by siwelwerd on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:00AM

            by siwelwerd (946) on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:00AM (#15616)

            It's not much better at the bachelor's level unless you lump in Math Ed majors (which is so watered down most places as to not be deserving of the name "math major").

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Random2 on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:39PM

        by Random2 (669) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:39PM (#15551)

        American thing?

        No, it is an ignorant sexist thing. Ignorance and stereotypes aren't exclusive to America, nor the myriad of people who inhabit it.

        Now, if we could all get over this fundamentally idiotic notion that we need to differentiate people based on some aspect of their genetics, that'd be great. That would include following 'trends' like these to 'highlight perceived *ism' which likely have other underlying causes instead of some grandiose 'hate the people of group X' scheme.

        But I suppose those don't make as 'good news'.

        I don't know about you all but I have a dream. A dream where my little children won't be judged by their genetic makeup, but the content of their character. Do you have a dream?

        --
        If only I registered 3 users earlier....
        • (Score: 2) by Koen on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:46PM

          by Koen (427) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:46PM (#15557)

          Ignorance and stereotypes aren't exclusive to America, nor the myriad of people who inhabit it.

          That is of course true. I apologize if I gave the wrong impression by putting the question that way.

          --
          /. refugees on Usenet: comp.misc [comp.misc]
        • (Score: 2) by juggs on Thursday March 13 2014, @05:30AM

          by juggs (63) on Thursday March 13 2014, @05:30AM (#15714) Journal

          Be careful how you express your dreams in public.

          MLK Jr. and MalcolmX (although he referred to an American nightmare more than a dream per se) put their dreams into microphones, didn't exactly end well in either case.

          Seems there is something dangerous about sharing a "dream" that could upset whatever the status quo is at any given point in time. Whether one chooses to interpret that as enforced compliance or just symptomatic of human herd behaviour is an exercise for the reader.

        • (Score: 1) by nitehawk214 on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:54PM

          by nitehawk214 (1304) on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:54PM (#15856)

          And, across the world, women are given a free pass on misogynistic things. It seems to me that most of the people enforcing the "girls" stereotypes are mothers and grandmothers. Men are not allowed to call them out on it, and mothers that do not buy into the stereotypes are ridiculed for it.

          --
          "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
          • (Score: 2) by NovelUserName on Thursday March 13 2014, @07:47PM

            by NovelUserName (768) on Thursday March 13 2014, @07:47PM (#16062)

            Not that I agree, but you present an interesting point. It reminds me of the Moynihan report on African Americans in US society from 1965. The TLDR version of that report basically goes: Being black in the US comes with a host of social baggage that is the fault of the government and White people. However, if the government or white people try to fix the problems that would be interpreted as an attack on black culture.

            This continues to be a contentious subject, but your assertions remind me of the basic premise that when group-x has a social problem that disadvantages group-x compared to others, the rest of society cannot move to help group-x.

            that said, this is a complex issue and I'm not sure I agree with you that this is just a self-reenforcing cultural problem. Men and woemen are wired differently, and pretending otherwise is probably not helpful here. As an anecdote- I grew up next door to a family where the mother was very bright- had a masters degree in mathematics/CS and wanted to see her children in STEM fields. Her first two children were girls, and she made sure all their toys were of the LEGO, building blocks, puzzle type. Her hope was to encourage the girls to develop interests in logic and understanding how the world works. The two girls had no interest in those toys but were very interested in my sister's more traditional female toys. The third child was a boy and came along 10 years behind the two girls, but at that point the mother had given up on proactively teaching her children to like STEM. To her surprise the boy found the boxes of toys and dragged them out to play with. The point of the anecdote is that rejecting predictions because they match stereotypes won't necessarily get you a correct prediction (i.e. stereotypes are sometimes true to some approximation).

            On the other hand all three of those kids went on to be really damn smart (PhD in biochem, MD, MS in comp-sci), so maybe the toy training did more than it appeared to.

            Cheers

            • (Score: 2) by nitehawk214 on Friday March 14 2014, @01:12PM

              by nitehawk214 (1304) on Friday March 14 2014, @01:12PM (#16332)

              I am not sure I agree either. While some individuals have this problem, it is not always passed on to their children.

              --
              "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
        • (Score: 1) by dwpro on Thursday March 13 2014, @02:20PM

          by dwpro (3751) on Thursday March 13 2014, @02:20PM (#15875)

          As far as I can tell, it's not actually "a thing". Few people say something so stupid, though most of us do recognize that women score lower in math generally [nber.org]. There are differing theories as to why. I do think it's important to understand _why_ we are different so we can adjust societal norms to better accommodate those differences, but there's no use pretending like we're all carbon copies of one another.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @02:51PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @02:51PM (#15898)

          Perhaps they are 'differentiated' because due various aspects of their genetics they are different?

          That dog sure sucks at flying. Well yes he does, he lacks the wings of a bird, but lets ignore that and throw him out the window anyway. We don't want to treat him any different because of his genetics.

          The analogy above is imperfect because in this case there is an easily observable genetic difference that gives abilities to one animal over another.. why do some of us pretend that all genetic differences are so easily spotted?

          I don't understand the idiotic preconception that genetics should be ignored and we should try to treat everyone as if they are the "same".. which clearly does not gel with reality. That isn't to say that the tests to discover such differences shouldn't be rigorous (correlation does not necessarily equal causation blah blah blah...)

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @01:06PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @01:06PM (#16326)

          Now, if we could all get over this fundamentally idiotic notion that we need to differentiate people based on some aspect of their genetics, that'd be great. That would include following 'trends' like these to 'highlight perceived *ism' which likely have other underlying causes instead of some grandiose 'hate the people of group X' scheme.

          What likely other underlying causes? Accusations of hate would generally be overblown, but discrimination seems like a realistic explanation to me for a lot of these group trends. Either direct discrimination or just the way our societies are structured - both of which should be tackled. The only other possible underlying cause I can think of would actually be genetics - e.g. maybe women are genetically worse on average at STEM?

  • (Score: -1) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:47PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:47PM (#15516)

    ...I'm pretty sure their answer to this question will involve throwing more men in jail.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Silentknyght on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:53PM

    by Silentknyght (1905) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:53PM (#15518)

    The college majors that tend to lead to the most profitable professions are also the stingiest about awarding A’s. Science departments grade, on a four-point scale, an average of 0.4 points lower than humanities departments, according to a 2010 analysis of national grading data by Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy.

    I'd argue the problem is highlighted in the first real paragraph of the article: bad professor-student feedback.

    If you're in college and have many relatively-equal options to select when deciding on a career, why wouldn't you logically choose something at which you seem to perform well?

    The solution: Grade normalization. Seriously. There's no reason for STEM professors to grade 0.4 points lower, on average. Either they should raise grades or the humanities classes should lower them. My vote is on the former, having experienced first-hand these kinds of processors that seem to perversely delight in delivering below-average grades.

    ~SK

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by GeminiDomino on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:21PM

      by GeminiDomino (661) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:21PM (#15539)

      I disagree. From my Uni experience, I think the real difference lies in the fact that STEM classes usually have objectively correct answers, whereas things like Humanities, Literature, etc.. are generally graded much more subjectively.

      --
      "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Grishnakh on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:58PM

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:58PM (#15568)

        I don't think that's really a big difference at all. Engineering classes are notoriously hard, but even there they usually grade on a curve. I remember lots of classes where a score of 40 on an exam turned out to be a B+ or better. It doesn't matter if half of your answers are objectively wrong when all your classmates also got half the answers wrong. If the highest grade is a 50, then that's an A+.

        If the humanities classes are still giving out higher average grades, that's because they're not curving correctly. In their case, they need to be curving grades down.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by mhajicek on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:05PM

          by mhajicek (51) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:05PM (#15574)

          I think grading on a curve is inherently wrong. If you design a bridge which collapses and kills people, is it made better by someone else designing an even worse bridge?

          --
          The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Daniel Dvorkin on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:33PM

            by Daniel Dvorkin (1099) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:33PM (#15583) Journal

            I think grading on a curve is inherently wrong. If you design a bridge which collapses and kills people, is it made better by someone else designing an even worse bridge?

            You're assuming taking a test is the same as designing a bridge. They're not really comparable tasks. Unfortunately, when moving a hundred or more students through a "___ 101" class, it's really hard to come up with ways to assess how well the students are learning that bear much resemblance to the tasks they'll be doing with their knowledge once they complete their degrees.

            --
            Pipedot [pipedot.org]:Soylent [soylentnews.org]::BSD:Linux
            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by etherscythe on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:06AM

              by etherscythe (937) on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:06AM (#15622) Journal

              Correct me if I'm wrong, but a test that does not determine skills and knowledge of procedure which go into the practical application of the degree field is simply a failure of the test. Seriously, if the test does not reflect what the graduate is expected to be able to do, what are we testing for? And if the people building our bridges haven't shown they are qualified to do so, what the hell good was the degree to begin with?

              --
              "Fake News: anything reported outside of my own personally chosen echo chamber"
              • (Score: 1) by tibman on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:56AM

                by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:56AM (#15652)

                You are assuming that college is for producing educated people and not just collecting money. There is a lot of business pressure to get people through and not see them fail mid-way (and stop paying).

                --
                SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
                • (Score: 2) by nitehawk214 on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:32PM

                  by nitehawk214 (1304) on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:32PM (#15845)

                  College is for educating people. The fact that most colleges simply do not care about providing education is a problem with colleges, not with everyone else.

                  --
                  "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
              • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Daniel Dvorkin on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:07AM

                by Daniel Dvorkin (1099) on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:07AM (#15680) Journal

                The pessimistic answer is that yes, the tests themselves are failures ... and that's why bridges fall down.

                The somewhat more optimistic answer is that you can't practically test for the ability to carry out complex, long-term projects in a classroom setting, but you can test the basic skills that are prerequisites for those projects--and that grading on a curve is just an acknowledgement that those skills are a lot harder to demonstrate in an hour-long closed-book exam than they are on the job, when you (hopefully) have reference materials available and the time to use them. Which is somewhat supported by the fact that most bridges don't fall down, I suppose.

                --
                Pipedot [pipedot.org]:Soylent [soylentnews.org]::BSD:Linux
              • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Kell on Thursday March 13 2014, @07:44AM

                by Kell (292) on Thursday March 13 2014, @07:44AM (#15755)

                Hi - tertiary engineering educator here. Hoo boy, believe me it is very hard to build assessment that is fair, balanced, and well-targeted for difficulty. When it comes to teaching the questions that keeps me up at night are "Have I made the project too hard?" and "Have I made the project too easy?" Either scenario is a disaster for the course.
                 
                On the topic of bell-curves: they are a way of doing "automatic gain adjustment" on your marking scheme, and is usually a fairly robust technique given large, and fairly homogenous classes. Oddly, the major complaints about bell curves come from the good students who actually benefit from such a scheme - they know it's unfair, but generally if you're smart enough to recognise the issue, you're not the one on the bottom of the heap.
                 
                That said, I don't use them either - I use competency-based assessment, which I feel is fairer to everybody, but it always difficult to design good assessment that doesn't break too many eggs (or not enough).

                --
                Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by velex on Wednesday March 12 2014, @11:51PM

          by velex (2068) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @11:51PM (#15611) Journal

          I don't think GP was talking about grading on a curve, although you might have a point about humanities not curving correctly. otoh, I avoid those classes like the plague because I can't rightly comprehend why having long hair is like being raped. I've never been raped or oppressed by my long hair, but I suppose it's different for cis women.

          That aside, I think what GP was getting at was that cis women abhor fields with objectively correct and incorrect answers. The idea that somebody else might come along and tell a cis woman that she's wrong and produce a reason that can't be argued is intimidating to her, especially if the person providing the correct answer/method/showing her where her process went wrong doesn't have a lot of sex appeal.

          Mod me down (and after this happened to me I eventually did decide to become sexist--what else to do and why not?) but showing a cis woman where she's objectively wrong can get you called sexist to your face for no other reason than you weren't assigned the same gender at birth as say Ada Lovelace.

          Now, over in humanities, there are really no right or wrong answers. It all comes down to how persuasive one can be and how open one is to toeing the prevalent biases and dogmas. I suppose, having realized that, I shouldn't be afraid of humanities, since I probably could these days write one heck of an argument about why it's absolutely correct that having long hair represents oppression by the patriarchy. The trouble is that it would be all bullshit, frankly. That's the point, though. Over in humanities, as long as you're a good bullshitter, you get a good grade. I've met very few cis women whose first refuge in a disagreement wasn't bullshit.

          • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:34AM

            by Reziac (2489) on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:34AM (#15674) Homepage

            Sad to say I agree with you... a viewpoint I arrived at from being subjected to a number of such arguments from the feminazi camp. And to think I used to be all for women's lib and such.

            --
            And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
          • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by FuckBeta on Thursday March 13 2014, @11:49AM

            by FuckBeta (1504) on Thursday March 13 2014, @11:49AM (#15807) Homepage

            These women don't have objective standards. Think about this for a minute.

            Right or wrong to them comes from whether their social group approves or disapproves. Now what sort of morality do you have with no objective measures of right and wrong?

            And this is exactly why they are intimidated by hard sciences.

            "especially if the person providing the correct answer/method/showing her where her process went wrong doesn't have a lot of sex appeal."

            Too true.

            --
            Quit Slashdot...because Fuck Beta!
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @01:33PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @01:33PM (#16351)

              These women don't have objective standards.

              Which women? The ones in the study? Velex's hypothetical "cis women [who] abhor fields with objectively correct and incorrect answers"? All women?

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @01:27PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @01:27PM (#16346)

            I can't rightly comprehend why having long hair is like being raped.

            Nor can I. Who is saying that?

             

            ... women abhor fields with objectively correct and incorrect answers. The idea that somebody else might come along and tell a cis woman that she's wrong and produce a reason that can't be argued is intimidating to her ...

            Interesting hypothesis. My hypothesis is that men are on average even worse than women at dealing with situations where they are proved wrong.

        • (Score: 2) by davester666 on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:50AM

          by davester666 (155) on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:50AM (#15639)

          that's why they are in humanities...they are bad at math.

          and they are too cheap to pay somebody who knows math to do it right.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by tftp on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:16AM

        by tftp (806) on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:16AM (#15646) Homepage

        I think the real difference lies in the fact that STEM classes usually have objectively correct answers, whereas things like Humanities, Literature, etc.. are generally graded much more subjectively.

        I had a HUGE problem with that subjectivity with literature in HS. My mind does not handle fuzzy solutions well. For every problem I seek a clear definition, a clear method of solving it, and a well defined solution (as much as it is definable.) This works fine for math, physics, geography, or any other study where there is always a fixed, logically provable relation between Q and A. I had no problems with physics, even in university - where some math became pretty abstract [wikipedia.org]. Some devices are a puzzle, like Magic Tee [wikipedia.org], but they all have solutions, and you can always arrive to them step by step. There are no "feelings" involved.

        Compared to that, literature is all subjective. To begin with, you have to read a book that you hate with a passion. (There are no robots in it, and no terawatt hand blasters, and no scientific puzzle - most books that we were given were all about feelings - things that no normal boy would have, or would confess that he has :-) Perhaps some learned professors, somewhere far, far away decreed that every 14 years old boy must read the War and Peace and grok all those love/hate affairs. It's impossible. The teachers would ask silly questions like "Why the hero $a fell in love the girl $b?" - the only logical answer to that would be "because he had nothing better to do and wanted entertainment," or "because he had a chemical imbalance in his body" :-) How well would that fly with a teacher? I cannot simply imagine the reasons that do not exist in (a) the real world or (b) in a sufficiently defined abstract world. I cannot calculate the reasons that the teacher would be happy with. I hated this stuff, and I still do.

        Would I ever go into the field of Humanities, even if it offered me highest ever grades and salary? No, of course not. The thing is alien to me. I would assume that someone who is attuned to the "feelings" thing may hate Hendrik Lorenz and Sir William Rowan Hamilton with a passion. It is not that simple to choose between hard math and softy, pinky, teary stuff of pure fantasy. You have to have a certain affinity to the field; without it you will hate your job, and you will have no career, and you may eventually have to "rediscover yourself" at the age of 35, with family on your hands and with mortgage, and with zero chances to enter the field that you should have entered at the age of 20. There is one good rule of choosing job: pick what you love to do, no matter the wage. Not everyone can (there are too few jobs that pay for drinking beer and watching TV,) but it's a good direction to follow.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:54AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:54AM (#15651)

          And you wonder why you fail! There is no try, do humanities, or do not. People who think it is bs usually fail because they really are not able to detect bs the way someone educated in the humanities can.

      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:29AM

        by Reziac (2489) on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:29AM (#15672) Homepage

        Not only that, but when that math or engineering will eventually build bridges and skyscrapers and jets, I'd kinda prefer that it was graded hard to weed out the duds before they can go forth and kill us with lousy computations.

        --
        And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Ethanol-fueled on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:31PM

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:31PM (#15544) Homepage

      I agree with you about grade normalization, but it's a two-way street - if we're going to normalize STEM grades then the now-rampant problem of grade inflation should be dealt with appropriately.

      Most of us know that, back in the day, the field of computation was full of women because it was thought of as more clerical work. Teachers were allowed to discipline their students without fear of lawsuits, parents did parenting and pushed their kids rather than make excuses, and students were generally more disciplined and eloquent. There was none of the "check your CIS privilege" bullshit which is nothing but excuses for shortcomings.

      With STEM coursework, for the most part it's about getting the answers right or wrong, which leaves a lot less wiggle-room for women to claim sexism and minorities to claim racism. In fact, short of fucking your professor, there is no way to argue your way out of terrible math skills. You suck at math, you hit the damn books. If you can't do quantum physics, you settle for Computer Science or Econ or Chemistry.

      In my opinion, there should be none of this "affirmative action" or "diversity" bullshit. However, in my magical world, college should be affordable, accessable, and run like institutions of higher-learning rather than businesses. You take away the bitchers' and moaners' excuses, and you see that there's nothing left to argue with except the bellowing of hot air. And I say this as somebody who spent 10 years in community college before finally getting my A.S. Onward, HO!*

      * see what I did there?

      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:40AM

        by Reziac (2489) on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:40AM (#15676) Homepage

        ...There was none of the "check your CIS privilege" bullshit which is nothing but excuses for shortcomings....

        And that observation applies all across life.

        As to what you did there... I think you need another hydrogen atom. ;)

        --
        And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by c0lo on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:41PM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:41PM (#15588) Journal

      The solution: Grade normalization.

      Your solution is wrong. Seriously.

      Grades are (or should be) a measurement. As such, they are a mean, not a goal - a mean to make an idea about the "the real thing", or a mean to check one stays on track, or a mean by which one can decide to apply feedback and correct the teaching... a mean anyway.

      Normalizing grades between STEM and humanities is based on the view of grades as a goal: the one that chooses to play this game is more likely to "learn how to pass exams" rather than acquire skills and knowledge and attitudes that are actually useful.
      In other words, one will "learn behaviours"; and a nasty behaviour when it comes to that: the compliance - like in "Tell me how you are measuring me and I'll tell you how I behave".
      That's no longer education, that is taming and conditioning.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @01:15PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @01:15PM (#16338)

        Normalizing grades between STEM and humanities is based on the view of grades as a goal

        Or maybe it's based on the view that they are a more useful measurement when normalized? Remember, we aren't talking about fundamental units of physics here.

    • (Score: 1) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:24AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:24AM (#15686)

      Large community college in a major city here. I was in a seminar a week ago, and one of the humanities organizers suggested such things as (a) entirely removing required reading from a course, and (b) following her lead and grading 70% on attendance alone (i.e., get at least a "C" by just showing up with no work or evidence of learning at all). So from what I can tell it's the STEM classes which are standing against the tide of insane grade inflation under the "everyone can haz college diploma" push.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by hubie on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:53PM

    by hubie (1068) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:53PM (#15519) Journal

    However, I can't say a very compelling case was presented to back the conclusion. I hope there is more to the analysis than what was presented in the article because all that really jumped out at me was self-stereotyping ("we women strive too hard to be perfect and guys don't"), like what you get when someone explains what they do in terms of their horoscope sign ("I'm impulsive because I'm a Virgo...").

    It is an interesting angle. The professional societies in the STEM fields have been trying to figure out for decades why women don't continue on to graduate school.

    • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by mhajicek on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:10PM

      by mhajicek (51) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:10PM (#15578)

      That brings to mind the fact that men and women evolved to fill different roles in society. Do we all have to have the same skill sets now?

      --
      The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by c0lo on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:46PM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:46PM (#15590) Journal

        That brings to mind the fact that men and women evolved to fill different roles in nature.

        FTFY. Society is an artifact specific to homo s.: there's no such a thing in the animal world (there may be packs or herds or whatever, but no society as such).

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
        • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Wednesday March 12 2014, @11:26PM

          by mhajicek (51) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @11:26PM (#15602)

          Are we somehow no longer in nature? It appears homosapiens naturally form societies, as do dolphins, elephants, and ants.

          --
          The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
          • (Score: 1) by c0lo on Wednesday March 12 2014, @11:38PM

            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 12 2014, @11:38PM (#15608) Journal

            Are we somehow no longer in nature?

            Did I say or imply this?

            It appears homosapiens naturally form societies, as do dolphins, elephants, and ants.

            We certainly have different definitions about the mean of the "society" term. I make a distinction between a herd/pack/hive and society - to the point in which I can't agree with your assertion that an "ant hive" is an instance of "society".

            --
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by velex on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:04AM

        by velex (2068) on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:04AM (#15620) Journal

        The trouble with your argument is that you fail to take into account the effects of socialization. There is no biological reason why female-type brains should prefer humanities for example to STEM. Look over at the Middle East. You'll find plenty of cis women over there studying STEM. Then look back over here. There are plenty of cis women who succeed in fields such as medicine and law where there's $$$ to be had. Then take a closer look. There are plenty of trans women (who have the same kind of brain) who go into STEM. I don't find the argument that somehow the female mind is predisposed against fields that have objectively right and wrong answers such as STEM by way of biology to be convincing.

        So, this is kind of a weak point on my part due to lack of evidence, but I honestly wouldn't know where to get the evidence. I have to wonder what the difference is then between cis women and trans women over here. Why do trans women succeed at STEM while cis women utterly fail? The only two variables that jump out at me are socialization and access to entitlement programs (easy access that cis women have to starting families and thereby gaining social status when they're not even old enough to buy a drink). Socialization is probably the stronger factor.

        The question I had while I was reading TFA (I know, heresy) was, "So when does my entire gender caste [my own term to include anybody assigned the male gender at birth--by definition rapists the lot of us] get blamed for this problem?" Apparently, TFA doesn't attempt to do so. I've noticed a bit of a shift away from arguments from victimhood, so perhaps there's progress being made on the part of cis women to address their problem of why none of them do STEM.

        What I'm waiting for is for cis women to start looking at mothers and grandmothers as culprits. There's way too much unjustified blame placed on cis men and trans women (the male "gender caste" as it were). According to feminism, anyone assigned the male gender is automatically responsible when little Susie gets a dollhouse or a Malibu Stacey for Christmas. The thing that cis women have utterly failed to do so far in their accusations to look at just who is insisting on these gifts. Perhaps, one day, cis women will realize that by and large cis men really don't give a shit about what toys their daughters get, but it's cis women who are insisting on the dollhouse, the long hair, and telling their daughters both explicitly and by example that "math is hard."

        Too many cis women have told me that math is hard for me to care to argue anymore. I hope one day that cis women will realize that anyone and everyone assigned the male gender at birth cannot be held collectively and severally accountable for the words coming out of their own mouths.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by GeminiDomino on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:57PM

    by GeminiDomino (661) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:57PM (#15522)

    I'll leave the "Math is hard" jokes to someone else. I'm too busy laughing at Economics being considered a STEM degree.

    --
    "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by TK on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:31PM

      by TK (2760) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:31PM (#15545)
      The 'E' stands for Economics.
      --
      The fleas have smaller fleas, upon their backs to bite them, and those fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum
    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @06:54AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @06:54AM (#15748)

      I'll leave the "Math is hard" jokes to someone else. I'm too busy laughing at Economics being considered a STEM degree.

      Glad I'm not the only one who who felt the poke in the eye. ;)

      Here's a math joke for ya: don't drink and derive.

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by O3K on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:58PM

    by O3K (963) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:58PM (#15523)
    www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/catherine-rampell- women-should-embrace-the-bs-in-college-to-make-mor e-later

    Ah, how not being able to put an apostrophe in the URL makes for some interesting readings.

    the B's
    the bullshit in college
    the Bachelor of Science degrees

    And yet, each reading applies just as well at the others!
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Sir Garlon on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:59PM

    by Sir Garlon (1264) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:59PM (#15524)

    This is an interesting correlation that might actually bear some further examination. Briefly, the observation is

    She found that the likelihood a woman would major in economics dropped steadily as her grade fell: Women who received a B in Econ 101, for example, were about half as likely as women who received A’s to stick with the discipline. The same discouragement gradient didn’t exist for men.

    Unfortunately, the research was done by an economist and seems to stop at pointing out a correlation as if that told us anything about causes. The logical next step, in my opinion, is to do some experiments to determine what, if any, causal relationship is represented by the correlation.

    From reading the Washington Post article, the reporter seems to be trying to imply that women are less tough-minded then men and give up quickly when they face the hard uphill battle that is Econ 101. That's just one possible explanation, and probably a stereotype. Another possible explanation is that women make up their minds in Econ 101 whether economics is really for them, and those who decide "no" apply themselves less after they decide they prefer another major, whereas men are more likely to have made up their minds before they enroll in the class. Or maybe men are just less quick or less likely to change majors. Or maybe economics professors are more likely to be misogynist than literature professors. I am not saying I believe any of these explanations, but I could probably come up with 10 of them in an hour.

    The problem I see in these studies of women in STEM is that generally the researchers notice some correlation or pattern like this, and somehow assert they've learned something. Without a hypothesis as to the underlying cause, and research to test that hypothesis, *we don't even know if this pattern is a problem.* It could be women turn away from economics because of negative factors that push them out (which would be bad, and should be addressed), or it could be because of positive factors that attract them to other subjects (which would be no problem).

    --
    [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Daniel Dvorkin on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:45PM

      by Daniel Dvorkin (1099) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:45PM (#15555) Journal

      Awfully hard to set up a controlled experiment for this kind of thing. Probably the best you could do would be a prospective study: start with a bunch of freshmen of both sexes and track their grades, their attitudes (as measured by some standardized questionnaire), and their majors throughout their college careers. You could, at the very least, establish temporal relationships this way, which would help with untangling the no doubt complicated relationships of cause and effect.

      --
      Pipedot [pipedot.org]:Soylent [soylentnews.org]::BSD:Linux
    • (Score: 1) by dcollins on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:30AM

      by dcollins (1168) on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:30AM (#15687) Homepage

      "The logical next step, in my opinion, is to do some experiments to determine what, if any, causal relationship is represented by the correlation."

      Agree with Dvorkin... I suspect you don't entirely know what you're saying. What kind of experimental design would you recommend? Randomly inflating some people's grades beyond what they earned to see if they stick around longer? That's infeasible.

      Sometimes correlations are useful information -- and sometimes that's the best you can do under ethical restrictions.

      • (Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:58PM

        by Sir Garlon (1264) on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:58PM (#15860)

        As Dvorkin said, it's hard (probably futile) to attempt to design an experiment to determine the cause of human behavior. Heck, it is probably hard to do that even for rats in a laboratory. So "experiment" is perhaps not the right word. What I would recommend would be to formulate several causal hypotheses and then investigate each and see which, if any, have statistically significant observational support. You could survey the male and female students when they exit Econ 101 and ask them how hard they thought it was on a rough scale from "very easy" to "very hard." (hypothesis: women are more likely than men to think the course was hard.) You could also ask other questions like how well prepared they felt they were when they started the course (hypothesis: people who quit economics did not meet the assumed prerequisites), whether they thought the professor was helpful and approachable (hypothesis: professor is perceived differently by women than by men), how they're doing in their other classes (hypothesis: econ majors who do worse in economics than in their other classes are more likely to change majors), and things like that. Then analyze the responses in comparison with the students' grades, and see what light this sheds on the gender differences. Repeat for different economics professors, over several years, at different universities. Let the breadth and duration of the study be dictated by how much data you need to make a defensible conclusion, instead of what data you can get cheaply in time for the next conference.

        I recognize that a survey is not an ideal instrument for investigating people's motives, and that there is US law that may restrict the researcher getting access to the students' grades. But this are just the ideas I've come up with in casual conversation, and perhaps a psychologist or social scientist could come up with some better instruments with which to gather the relevant observations.

        --
        [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
  • (Score: 5, Funny) by wjwlsn on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:59PM

    by wjwlsn (171) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:59PM (#15525) Homepage Journal

    I answer your question with another, somewhat related question:

    What percentage of the women you know are perfectly happy to admit being wrong about something?

    --
    I am a traveler of both time and space. Duh.
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by O3K on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:05PM

      by O3K (963) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:05PM (#15529)

      Why do I never have mod points when there's a comment worth modding (up)????

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by wjwlsn on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:14PM

        by wjwlsn (171) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:14PM (#15535) Homepage Journal

        I actually expect this to continue being modded down... :)

        (There's already been one Overrated... now I'm waiting for the Flamebait and Troll ratings to appear. Also, if I manage to get all three of those and Funny and Insightful ratings, I will be extremely happy.)

        --
        I am a traveler of both time and space. Duh.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by GungnirSniper on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:38PM

      by GungnirSniper (1671) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:38PM (#15549) Journal

      I answer your question with another, somewhat related question: What percentage of the women you know are perfectly happy to admit being wrong about something?

      That percentage may be a few points higher for women but it's not that far off to explain the phenomenon in the summary.

      Perhaps what's happening is the result that in the US, we have one-size-fits-most education from preschool to Junior or Senior (last two) years of high school. There are only special programs for those falling behind, not those who are bored to tears with busywork because they are ahead. This results in many students used to near-perfect grades with a certain degree of effort. They're never challenged as fully until they reach college.

      It may be related to self-esteem, in the way that someone who is always told they are perfect takes any mistake just a little bit harder. In this hypothesis, the grades though high school tell them are perfect, and the harsher grading of college hits their self-esteem a bit?

      • (Score: 2) by mhajicek on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:17PM

        by mhajicek (51) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:17PM (#15580)

        There are more advanced programs now than when we were kids. My 11yr old son is in one that's part of the public school system but run like a magnet school. Most students graduate by 16.

        --
        The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by velex on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:11AM

        by velex (2068) on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:11AM (#15623) Journal

        How does that explain gender difference in career choice?

        Maybe we're socializing cis women to be too emotionally fragile and we aren't emphasizing enough to them that they need to get a "real" job. I think most of us here know from being socialized as boys that it's clear from about day one that you're going to need a "real" job unless you plan to die homeless in a gutter. Perhaps we should be suspending entitlement programs that cis women are the primary recipients of and giving girls that impression as well.

        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:59PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:59PM (#15861)
          Thanks to you, I'm writing a script to remove all instances of the string " cis " from my browser. Go back to tumblr with that shit.
          • (Score: 1) by velex on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:35PM

            by velex (2068) on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:35PM (#15958) Journal

            How do you propose I delineate trans women from cis women then?

            Or is your real issue that I would dare to be suspicious of individuals born with their reproductive systems on the inside who tend to use a fundamentally sexist worldview as an excuse any time they fail at something?

            I don't know why you think the term cis woman is from tumblr. The term was formalized by Julia Serano in her book Whipping Girl. The other term I use, womyn-born-womyn, was promulgated by and is used by feminists themselves to delineate trans women from cis women. I can't think of any other terms that would both make you happy and allow me to effectively express my point about socialization and the error of supposing that these differences are due to the differences in male and female brains.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:44PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:44PM (#15829)

        There are only special programs for those falling behind, not those who are bored to tears with busywork because they are ahead.
        That's not true in my state. There are a multitude of courses available for free for kids who want them: take a music-intense curriculum at school, if you're gifted take a gifted curriculum, take a science-intensive curriculum, enroll in dual-language programs, there are tons and tons of options. This starts at Kindergarten and continues through high school. Maybe you should move? None of this includes charter schools, which offer even more options.

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Koen on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:02PM

    by Koen (427) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:02PM (#15526)

    In her analysis of others' findings, she writes of a discouragement gradient that pushes women out of harder college degrees, including economics and other STEM degrees.

    This is the first time that I see economics included in the Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics group.

    Sure, there is a lot of maths in economics (I teach maths to economics students), but at my university economics is part of the humanities.

    My colleague Scott Gasler who teaches economics tells me: "I studied economics because that is so remote from reality."

    --
    /. refugees on Usenet: comp.misc [comp.misc]
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by wjwlsn on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:09PM

      by wjwlsn (171) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:09PM (#15531) Homepage Journal

      I think the article only used Economics as a lead-in. Later in the article, the focus gets switched, presumably because STEM-related articles seem to be popular lately:

      Another research project, led by Peter Arcidiacono at Duke University, is finding similar trends in science, technology, engineering and mathematics...

      --
      I am a traveler of both time and space. Duh.
    • (Score: 4, Informative) by GungnirSniper on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:24PM

      by GungnirSniper (1671) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:24PM (#15542) Journal

      Submitter here. You are probably right, it's not strictly STEM, but of the mathematical part called Econometrics [wikipedia.org] could be STEM. From Wikipedia:

      Econometrics is the application of mathematics, statistical methods, and, more recently, computer science, to economic data and is described as the branch of economics that aims to give empirical content to economic relations. More precisely, it is "the quantitative analysis of actual economic phenomena based on the concurrent development of theory and observation, related by appropriate methods of inference." An introductory economics textbook describes econometrics as allowing economists "to sift through mountains of data to extract simple relationships."

      So good catch, thank you, I learned something new today.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by frojack on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:04PM

    by frojack (1554) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:04PM (#15528) Journal

    Two friends have daughters just out of college, who were so terrified of getting anything less than perfect grades that they knew the last bailout date that they could drop out of or "audit" classes to avoid getting anything less than a B+.

    They were like this all through High school as well. They were very smart kids, even studied abroad as exchange students, one in norway one in holland, and they were shocked when they got Bs and Cs in the EU schools, and did a tremendous amount of extra work to erase those. Their foreign teachers couldn't understand the panic. The girls explained to these teachers that they couldn't have anything but B+ on their record if they wanted to get into prestigious Universities in the US. The teachers were incredulous.

    As it ended, they both graduated near the top of their class from very good schools in the US, and went into what I consider "soft careers". (Social issues related fields). I always thought it was a waste of a perfectly good brain.

    All but one of my sisters did the same thing. One stuck to her guns and retired as the head of the microbiology medical lab at a large midwest regional hospital.

    I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of women in companies I worked for who were in my field (large software systems development). They were very good at their job. But their degrees were in something else, something easier.

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:53PM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:53PM (#15592) Journal

      I always thought it was a waste of a perfectly good brain.

      A good brain spoiled by a bad attitude: compliance. Wonder what amount of critical thinking and attitude to challenge things that are wrong is still in those brains.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 12 2014, @11:13PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 12 2014, @11:13PM (#15596)

      I thought everyone did that.... If I can't put 3.8 on my resume wtf is the point of college? I still won't get the job I want.

      • (Score: 1) by dcollins on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:35AM

        by dcollins (1168) on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:35AM (#15692) Homepage

        I think that's a joke? If not, bookmark this, come back in 5 years and explain to yourself at least two reasons why that makes no sense.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:49PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:49PM (#15830)

      As it ended, they both graduated near the top of their class from very good schools in the US, and went into what I consider "soft careers". (Social issues related fields). I always thought it was a waste of a perfectly good brain.

      Wow, what a horrible outlook on life. You consider smart people trying to solve social issues a "waste of a perfectly good brian"? Solving social issues should be everyone's goal. Maybe if they went into HFT you'd be happier? I'm very glad these smart women cared more about their world than you appear to.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by snakeplissken on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:35PM

    by snakeplissken (972) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:35PM (#15547)

    without more data it is difficult to even speculate, but it could be argued that in a sexist society one would expect women who wish to be taken seriously academically, to be aware of the sexism in society and to act accordingly. one prediction might be that they expect not to be treated as equally as a man who also 'only got b grades', perhaps there is an expectation that it would be 'used against them'?

    as i said in the first, without data this is pure speculation, but it seems reasonable that women who perceive that all is not equal might tailor their decisions in response.

    snake

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:57PM

    by VLM (445) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:57PM (#15566)

    I can pretend to be a soft sciences dude and make some stuff up.

    How about it starts much younger when "good girls do their homework and get A grades" therefore a girl getting a B a decade later is not a good girl and doesn't like feeling that way. Of course you get an "A" in womens studies merely for showing up on time, and female, so... In comparison "boys will be boys" so rebelling against studying and doing homework is just building character and merely indicates youthful vigor, its just a stage of personal growth, so the boy gets the same B and his attitude is "who cares, I'll be making $75K in 2 years no matter if its an A or a C-".

    There is probably an extreme correlation between high grade achievers and MMORPG grind games, and I'd theorize that this correlation would imply there are more male victims of grind game addiction than female after adjusting for demographics etc.

    • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:10PM

      by tangomargarine (667) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:10PM (#15579)

      To be fair, I'm male and I think I got an A just for showing up to Race/Class/Gender...granted, I was one of the 5 in the class of 20 who actually demonstrated they were listening to the prof ranting, but I'm not convinced that actually had any bearing on my final grade.

      --
      "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
  • (Score: 2, Funny) by germanbird on Wednesday March 12 2014, @11:25PM

    by germanbird (2619) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @11:25PM (#15600)

    When I was freshman in college, I passed by a guy talking to a girl in the lobby of one of the engineering buildings. I didn't think much of it at the time and proceeded to the elevators. The guy boarded the elevator behind me and once the door had closed, he turned and said, "I knew she was lost. A woman in the engineering complex? Too good to be true."

    I don't ever remember running into him again, but if you see this unknown-man-from-the-engineering-building, thanks for the laugh.