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Two minutes on google, and this is all I'm going to contribute to this debate at this point. I've been active for about four years now in a study that has collected actual measures from my field, and I can talk about actual real trends and numbers. Everyone else here seems to be talking about their own personal experience and little else, and having done this for several years now, I've learned that engaging in that debate is a waste of time. Find a female colleague near you and have a one-on-one conversation -- meaning as her about her experiences and really listen to the answer. You might learn something. 

http://gender.stanford.edu/news/2014/why-does-john-get-stem-job-rather-jennifer

https://www.nysscpa.org/news/publications/the-trusted-professional/article/woman-who-switched-to-man's-name-on-resume-goes-from-0-to-70-percent-response-rate-060816

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/unofficial-prognosis/study-shows-gender-bias-in-science-is-real-heres-why-it-matters/

https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/01/25/463846130/why-women-professors-get-lower-ratings

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To clarify, I am talking about discrimination for admissions -- and maybe this doesn't happen in all STEM fields, but it certainly does in math. Take a male candidate's application, change nothing but

I was going to write a thoughtful long response, as someone who is active in advocating against gender discrimination in my field. I have a lot to say, both from personal experience and based on a lar

I think calling those things "masculine qualities" is right at the root of the issues. 

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11 minutes ago, fuzzylogician said:

Two minutes on google, and this is all I'm going to contribute to this debate at this point. I've been active for about four years now in a study that has collected actual measures from my field, and I can talk about actual real trends and numbers. Everyone else here seems to be talking about their own personal experience and little else, and having done this for several years now, I've learned that engaging in that debate is a waste of time. Find a female colleague near you and have a one-on-one conversation -- meaning as her about her experiences and really listen to the answer. You might learn something. 

http://gender.stanford.edu/news/2014/why-does-john-get-stem-job-rather-jennifer

https://www.nysscpa.org/news/publications/the-trusted-professional/article/woman-who-switched-to-man's-name-on-resume-goes-from-0-to-70-percent-response-rate-060816

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/unofficial-prognosis/study-shows-gender-bias-in-science-is-real-heres-why-it-matters/

https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/01/25/463846130/why-women-professors-get-lower-ratings

http://www.pnas.org/content/suppl/2015/04/08/1418878112.DCSupplemental/pnas.1418878112.sapp.pdf

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35 minutes ago, samman1994 said:

You only cited 1 example source (hence n=1) for your assumptions/post. Sure exaggeration, premise is still wrong. Conjecture is conjecture. Unless you have done a study blind (or can find evidence thereof) of 2 applications that are completely similar in every conceivable way except for the gender of the applicant (which by the way, don't know how you can tell just by a name), and the female applicant does get in but the male doesn't, and then can prove that this was from a gender bias. Then and only then, can you make the statement you are making as fact. As for now, it is a conjecture. One that from all the responses, is an incorrect one. 

I'd also like to point out, I am not stating my own opinion here. I am stating what others are arguing for to help you understand what they are trying to say. I have explained my own stance in my original post. 

Lol at this absurdly high standard of evidence to have a discussion about something. Fine, it is my "conjecture"....

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17 minutes ago, justwonderin said:

Lol at this absurdly high standard of evidence to have a discussion about something. Fine, it is my "conjecture"....

 

1 hour ago, justwonderin said:

"it exists but doesn't play a major role"? "It is very rare to find someone with even a 'similar' application"? "the issue is not sensitive"? "nobody is strongly opposed on a moral level"?

Can you please provide evidence for these assertions you have made? I cannot begin to react to anything you said without having verifiable proof of the premises first.

.....

Honestly, you don't seem to really want to have a discussion. You either call other people's arguments absurd, narrow the field of your arguments so they can't possibly be as much of an expert as you are.... And at the same time want other people to provide sources and then argue that that's an "absurdly high standard of evidence". 

On an academic forum, for a discussion among academics, proper citations and peer-reviewed research with data is pretty much the expected standard of evidence, not "well I've heard" or "I know people who say..."

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49 minutes ago, Eigen said:

 

.....

Honestly, you don't seem to really want to have a discussion. You either call other people's arguments absurd, narrow the field of your arguments so they can't possibly be as much of an expert as you are.... And at the same time want other people to provide sources and then argue that that's an "absurdly high standard of evidence". 

On an academic forum, for a discussion among academics, proper citations and peer-reviewed research with data is pretty much the expected standard of evidence, not "well I've heard" or "I know people who say..."

I've been clear about the discussion I'm interested in having  -- whether or not people think gender discrimination is justified for grad school admissions -- and the one that I think is no longer productive (if it ever was) -- whether or not other people have been aware of gender discrimination in their field, including in entirely different setting to grad admissions. 

I have stated that I am not able to provide rigorous evidence of the existence of gender discrimination in math grad admissions; I am sorry that I do not have the capacity to conduct a study on this topic. But I also believe that hard evidence that it is happening is wholly unnecessary to have a discussion about whether or not it *should* be happening.

Also... did you actually not detect any sarcasm when I asked the other guy to cite sources for all of his claims?.... 

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17 hours ago, justwonderin said:

For instance, when I was applying to math grad schools a year ago, there were two women in my undergrad department,  whose mathematical backgrounds I was very familiar with, applying too. One of them was extremely similar to me on paper -- we joked about how we had basically the same application. The other one was still quite good, but was significantly less qualified on paper. Not by a ton, but it was consistent across different metrics -- in my judgment, there's virtually no argument that does not involve gender for why she would be as strong a candidate as me. As you've probably guessed, the first woman was quite a bit more successful than me at getting into grad schools, while the second one ended up at a school of a very similar caliber to mine. 

So you feel that you got burned, which is the crux of your frustration.  That is to say that you are upset that the woman with the lesser application got into the same caliber of program as you while the woman with the same application as you got into the better program.  If you examine yourself and not the situation you'll likely find that you are suffering from a case of entitlement; for what-ever reason you feel you deserve a better program.  Ask yourself this:  instead of comparing yourself to those two women what if they were men instead?  

Now, is the situation you present justifiable?  I dunno.  What I do know is that all three of you are obviously otherwise qualified.  You do not know what exactly qualified the woman into the better program.  Perhaps she has interest in area of mathematics and/or prospected an area of research that is not only different from yours but also one that just happened to line up with what her program was looking for.  Perhaps she better sold herself in her SOP or had stronger LORs.  Maybe she was found to be interesting during the interview or maybe the person who brought her on board was a woman, too?  And if so, good for them.

 

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37 minutes ago, Crucial BBQ said:

So you feel that you got burned, which is the crux of your frustration.  That is to say that you are upset that the woman with the lesser application got into the same caliber of program as you while the woman with the same application as you got into the better program.  If you examine yourself and not the situation you'll likely find that you are suffering from a case of entitlement; for what-ever reason you feel you deserve a better program.  Ask yourself this:  instead of comparing yourself to those two women what if they were men instead?  

Now, is the situation you present justifiable?  I dunno.  What I do know is that all three of you are obviously otherwise qualified.  You do not know what exactly qualified the woman into the better program.  Perhaps she has interest in area of mathematics and/or prospected an area of research that is not only different from yours but also one that just happened to line up with what her program was looking for.  Perhaps she better sold herself in her SOP or had stronger LORs.  Maybe she was found to be interesting during the interview or maybe the person who brought her on board was a woman, too?  And if so, good for them.

 

Thank you for offering your psychoanalysis?... Most of the points you raise I actually *do* know about -- for instance, we have very similar mathematical interests; it was not just one more school she got into, but a handful on the next tier; there were no interviews; the "person who brought her on board" is a man. You're right that I don't know for sure about SOP and LOR, but the information I have suggests they were likely of quite comparable quality. And most importantly, as I've said now many times, this was just one example of this kind; I have observed a consistent pattern. Moreover, several other people who pay attention to this whom I've discussed this topic with agree that gender discrimination is happening. 

And as I've also said several times, even if you choose not to believe that my observations are accurate, that does not prevent you from commenting on the question this post was (supposed to be) about -- is gender discrimination of this kind justified?

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Perhaps the woman with the same application as you was not accepted above her abilities, but rather you were rejected from a position you could have otherwise earned for the sense of entitlement, argumentative attitude, and lack of scientific understanding you've shown here.

 

If you have "observed a consistent pattern," could you please share your data? Or is it just another anecdote or two with incomplete information?

Edited by AB121212
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Maybe she wrote her SOP about gender discrimination she's experienced or how she was discouraged from pursuing the field from a young age. That would've made her essay stand out for sure. With that said, graduate admissions is a bit of a crapshoot to begin with--with many outstanding candidates having applications of equal quality, but a program having only a few spots to fill.

As far as positively selecting for diversity in gender (and other factors), why is that surprising or egregious...? If dozens of qualified applicants are up for a limited number of spots and a school's first choice stand-outs (who likely have had the most opportunities/best education/most help with applications) are almost entirely men, why not give the last spot to a woman (and/or an ethnic/racial minority, a first gen college student, an LGBTQ+ person) who is equally qualified as other applicants from traditionally advantaged socioeconomic groups, but who will add to the diversity and the breadth of life experience in a cohort?

I'm not trying to comment on your individual privilege, because I know absolutely nothing about you except that you seem to be a male applying to math programs. I'm just trying to bring up points as to why underrepresented points of view (which you may also have in your own way) are valuable to a university. Given how few women pursue advanced math degrees, however, it makes sense as to why their perspective is easier to sell to admissions committees.

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47 minutes ago, AB121212 said:

Perhaps the woman with the same application as you was not accepted above her abilities, but rather you were rejected from a position you could have otherwise earned for the sense of entitlement, argumentative attitude, and lack of scientific understanding you've shown here.

Nice one!! 

By the way, I never said she was "accepted above her abilities," and I think she probably wasn't.

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14 minutes ago, AllieKat said:

Maybe she wrote her SOP about gender discrimination she's experienced or how she was discouraged from pursuing the field from a young age. That would've made her essay stand out for sure. With that said, graduate admissions is a bit of a crapshoot to begin with--with many outstanding candidates having applications of equal quality, but a program having only a few spots to fill.

As far as positively selecting for diversity in gender (and other factors), why is that surprising or egregious...? If dozens of qualified applicants are up for a limited number of spots and a school's first choice stand-outs (who likely have had the most opportunities/best education/most help with applications) are almost entirely men, why not give the last spot to a woman (and/or an ethnic/racial minority, a first gen college student, an LGBTQ+ person) who is equally qualified as other applicants from traditionally advantaged socioeconomic groups, but who will add to the diversity and the breadth of life experience in a cohort?

I'm not trying to comment on your individual privilege, because I know absolutely nothing about you except that you seem to be a male applying to math programs. I'm just trying to bring up points as to why underrepresented points of view (which you may also have in your own way) are valuable to a university. Given how few women pursue advanced math degrees, however, it makes sense as to why their perspective is easier to sell to admissions committees.

Thank you for speaking on the topic I actually asked about. I appreciate hearing your thoughts! (I do kind of regret that you seem to think I had suggested it was "surprising or egregious" that a program would intentionally choose a woman over an identical man, as I never implied either one.)

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@justwonderin I'm going to be quite frank with you here, because I think that's the only way it'll get any points across. A person can tell a lot about you from the way you argue and debate a topic. I think the better question shouldn't be why another person got in, but rather why you didn't (this will help if you're planning to apply again next cycle). This way of thinking that you have, could have potentially reflected across on your SOP (one of the most important pieces of your application), and that alone could have potentially been the reason why you did not get in. This is of course speculation, I have no idea how or what you wrote in your SOP. Regardless, their is a severe flaw in the logic and argument flow that you are having in this post, and it may have potentially reflected in your SOP; and thus, may be a potential reason your competition got in with a "similar" application while you didn't. 

You made a post regarding how people feel towards gender discrimination in the application process. Many stated they don't think it exists, and thus, asked for proof it does exist before they can tell you how they feel about it (I.E. I can't really tell you how I feel about the earth being flat....because it's not flat). You replied you don't have evidence to support your claim, but you are sure it is a thing. Then people came and provided evidence how you are wrong about your claim in the first place. You replied by basically "I don't have evidence, I'm right". As you can see, that is the argument form of a toddler, you aren't right because you feel  you are right and you definitely aren't right because you saw one (or more) examples of your claim (that is generalization). This is not a science thing (even though you commented on STEM), this is the proper logical flow of thought. 

As far as I can see, you applied to a school, didn't get in, then conjectured the reason your competition got in was because of their gender, and then came here asking what we thought about a topic that some don't think even exists. Then when people provided evidence that your assumptions are wrong,  you basically said "No, I'm right, so tell me how you feel about it". This is exactly what flat earthers do. They don't have evidence the earth is flat, evidence is provided that the earth isn't flat, but they then proceed to tell you that they "know" the earth is flat and ignore all further evidence or logic you provide. See, you come across as what I would call "flat earther logic", which is not highly valued in academia. So if your SOP gave off that "flat earther logic" vibe, that may have been potentially been a valid reason why you didn't get in. 

Also, downvoting people instead of providing a proper counter-argument is also very child like. You're tethering on the edge of basically trolling in my eyes. If you are trolling, then ignore all the above, and thanks for wasting our time. If you are not trolling, try and see why your post and responses got such a negative response, and see what you can improve about yourself and your way of thinking. 

 

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2 hours ago, justwonderin said:

And most importantly, as I've said now many times, this was just one example of this kind; I have observed a consistent pattern. Moreover, several other people who pay attention to this whom I've discussed this topic with agree that gender discrimination is happening. 

And as I've also said several times, even if you choose not to believe that my observations are accurate, that does not prevent you from commenting on the question this post was (supposed to be) about -- is gender discrimination of this kind justified?

Honestly your first statement sounds like a perfect example of confirmation bias. You, and the others who pay attention to it, expect to see women getting into "higher tier programs" since you think they are getting chosen because of their gender, so you do and because you are looking for this "evidence/pattern" you focus on it to strengthen your argument that this trend is occurring even though it might not actually be a real trend. Have you looked for evidence that contradicts your belief that women get an advantage getting into higher tier math programs? Because recognizing contradicting evidence is one of the best ways to thwart confirmation bias tainting your personal view of something.

But since you are so upset about people citing your lack of evidence for this trend, I will also address your question as to whether this trend (if it is occurring) should be happening.  Women are routinely told they shouldn't/can't excel in math and often get harassed in these "boys club" type settings, so maybe it is okay if they are getting chosen because they are women. If women aren't encouraged to be in this setting, maybe having some opportunities that are open to them that are not open to similarly qualified men is not a bad thing since this can lead to changes in the system as these women enter the field which will then hopefully make the field that much more open to women following them.

Edited by FishNerd
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23 hours ago, telkanuru said:

Guys, have you... been on the internet before? 

 

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I've literally been told all of this BS to my face from people in academia, so even if this guy is a troll, there are a lot of people who legitimately believe this. 

(And yeah, it really hurts to be on the other end of this when you've worked so hard. It can feel degrading. I have an honors ivy quant degree, a perfect GRE, a first-author paper submitted to Science, olympiad background, years of research and industry experience... but apparently that's not enough and all the smart men don't get into programs because of the dumb women like me taking their place.)

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4 hours ago, lemma said:

I've literally been told all of this BS to my face from people in academia, so even if this guy is a troll, there are a lot of people who legitimately believe this. 

Of course. But feeding the troll doesn't really seem to be a useful (or even cathartic) way of addressing that.

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5 hours ago, lemma said:

(And yeah, it really hurts to be on the other end of this when you've worked so hard. It can feel degrading. I have an honors ivy quant degree, a perfect GRE, a first-author paper submitted to Science, olympiad background, years of research and industry experience... but apparently that's not enough and all the smart men don't get into programs because of the dumb women like me taking their place.)

To be fair, you do sound a bit insufferable. 

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I'd like to take a moment to address the issue of "X person/people got into Y program/fellowship and I didn't". 

Why do you care? Like, in all honesty, do you really think if you got into Harvard vs. some other school you would have a VASTLY different graduate education? PhDs boil down to the individuals, not the program. Yes, some programs have more resources and funding than others, that is fair. And yes, PhDs from MIT and the like get you a sort of small "buy in" when it comes to post docs and other positions. But I've met plenty of people who have gone to a top tier school and spent 8 years there with little publications; while others have gone to less well known R1's and had 11 publications by the end of 6 years, all in high impact journals. 

If YOU are as good of a student/researcher as you think you are, you will make the most out of whichever program you get into. A lot of faculty try to pass of the idea that names matter, but they really don't if you don't have the publications/technical skills to back any of that up. Most faculty who aren't infatuated with names and titles will tell you that as long as you get into an R1 or work with a good PI, you'll be fine because everything else you do is all on you and no one else. 

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12 hours ago, ohdeargodwhy said:

He is likely not a troll. This is the honest to god way a lot of men in STEM and other fields think. 

Brand new account. Vaguely worded post clearly designed to spark an argument. Replies worded specifically to keep the argument going.

 

This is certainly the way a lot of men in STEM (and elsewhere!) think. It's still absolutely a troll.

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troll or not, from a man's perspective in STEM, I can tell you that the disparity between the amount of men vs women in the field is not because of gender discrimination. that's kind of like saying the olympics is racially biased towards kenyans in long distance running. that's not to discredit women in their intellectual abilities. the issue i think has more to do with the environments that exists in these STEM settings, such as negotiations, decision making, expression of ideas in clear/concise manners, most of which favor masculine qualities. and if anything, the fields are trying to encourage more women participation (eg. society of women engineers). by and large, it's your effectiveness as a scientist, mathematician, engineer, that determines your placement. yea, the world is unfair, and someone who is equally or less qualified than you might scoop your position. join the club.

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4 hours ago, spectastic said:

the issue i think has more to do with the environments that exists in these STEM settings, such as negotiations, decision making, expression of ideas in clear/concise manners, most of which favor masculine qualities.

(emphasis added)

To me, this is a description of one of the ways gender discrimination is indeed happening in STEM settings. We (well, the people in power) get to decide how STEM settings work and the choice to organize them in ways that favour traditionally masculine qualities is one of the ways discrimination manifests itself. And when the field (especially the group of people in power, which are often more senior) is over-represented in one gender, it creates possibilites for that gender to choose to favour traits that they have themselves instead of valuing diversity/differences.

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1 hour ago, TakeruK said:

(emphasis added)

To me, this is a description of one of the ways gender discrimination is indeed happening in STEM settings. We (well, the people in power) get to decide how STEM settings work and the choice to organize them in ways that favour traditionally masculine qualities is one of the ways discrimination manifests itself. And when the field (especially the group of people in power, which are often more senior) is over-represented in one gender, it creates possibilites for that gender to choose to favour traits that they have themselves instead of valuing diversity/differences.

you have a valid point, but I'd like to think that in today's society, that's a pretty outdated perspective. I think it's just the nature of the jobs. leaders and decision makers need masculine qualities to move things forward and see things get done. i've been in the engineering field, and there are important moments when shit hits the fan, and decisions need to be quickly. if you have an opinion, you better get it out, because we're not going to have a circle discussion where everyone gets to share what they're thinking. women are perfectly capable of having masculine qualities in the professional setting. at a risk of sounding a little crude, we're in a competitive world, and if you want to move up, better have some balls.

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1 hour ago, spectastic said:

you have a valid point, but I'd like to think that in today's society, that's a pretty outdated perspective. I think it's just the nature of the jobs. leaders and decision makers need masculine qualities to move things forward and see things get done. i've been in the engineering field, and there are important moments when shit hits the fan, and decisions need to be quickly. if you have an opinion, you better get it out, because we're not going to have a circle discussion where everyone gets to share what they're thinking. women are perfectly capable of having masculine qualities in the professional setting. at a risk of sounding a little crude, we're in a competitive world, and if you want to move up, better have some balls.

I don't disagree with you at all that this is how things are, more so in some fields than others. 

But whereas you are saying this is the way it has to be, everyone needs to adopt this style, I'm saying that we should reconsider whether this way actually works or if the fields just got to be this way because these fields are/were dominated by men. 

Instead of seeking women who "have masculine qualities", why don't we actually we take a step back and decide what qualities are actually desirable. In the setting you describe here, the loudest opinion and/or the quickest opinion will win. Or whoever says it the most confidently will win. But that actually doesn't jive with what most people say they want when they talk about the goals of an academic discussion. Do we want to be publishing papers, awarding grants, and spending time/effort on science presented by the loudest, quickest, most confident people? Or do we want to publish, award and spend time on the best/correct/meritorious science cases?

In addition, if we do accept your statement that in some cases, we must take the first opinion and not wait for the best ones, I would hope that whatever field you work in is not one where shit hits the fan every day. Not every decision needs to be made this way and if we only hire/promote/train people who can think the way you describe, then we are missing other critical points of view, especially when we are in cases without this urgency. We are denying the opportunity to work in our field. And we are creating areas of weaknesses for our field because we are choosing to ignore important contributions.

But I actually think that even in most shit-hits-the-fan cases, there are ways to get to the best/right decision quickly without resorting to just listening to the loudest/fastest/most confident. Proper mitigation of risk may have some protocols in place such as a chain of command or key persons authorized to make important decisions and act on them. You can decide these key positions ahead of time through a careful selection process. You can also plan for several contingencies when it's not an emergency so that you can have the whole "circle discussion" thing in order to ensure you didn't miss out on the best solution because the source of that solution doesn't have these "alpha male" traits. 

In my opinion, the situations that you describe should be the exception, not the norm. And maybe when your team is new and inexperienced, they come up a lot. But the difference between a good team and a great team is that the great team should be going back and involving everyone in their debrief. Come up with new solutions so that these cases are avoided in the future. Handling situations with the loudest/quickest suggestion is an act of desperation, where you've already screwed up so badly that you can't even afford time to think of the best solution because every second of inaction is hurting you more. This is hardly an ideal model and I don't know why we would want to hire/promote people who can work in this way, instead of hiring for diversity of perspectives.

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