Some Harvey Mudd students have taken umbrage with my suggestion that there may be a quota at Harvey Mudd leading the admission committee to admit more women and minorities and that President Klawe is behind it. One person has even proclaimed that to merely suggest that is to be "racist" and "sexist."
Let me be clear. I am not a Mudd student. My recent grade in Calculus suggests that I may be unable to tie their shoes, let alone fill them. I have tremendous respect for Harvey Mudd College, which I believe to be one of the finest colleges in the world.
Although I obviously do not have admissions data as I present to you this suggestion, I do believe the history and policy readily support the conclusions I am about to flesh out in further detail.
On the numbers....
A source at Harvey Mudd has suggested to me that the numbers could be found in a comparison with the retention rates each year.
He lists them and writes,
2002-2003: 178/187 (95%)Finding the numbers for these last two years would be crucial to my case because President Maria Klawe began her tenure at Harvey Mudd in 2006.
2003-2004: 186/191 (96%)
2004-2005: 183/193 (95%)
2005-2006: 182/195 (93%)
2006-2007: 174/180 (97%) *
2007-2008: 187/197 (95%) **
Data comes from the Registrar (via the Student Handbook), except for the last two years. That data comes from a comparison of the list of admitted students to the roster of the following fall. As such, it probably overestimates the retention rate, especially in the final case, as students may not have made final decisions regarding re-enrollment yet. Official data for 2006-2007 should be known in a few weeks, but 2007-2008 will have to wait a while.
Assuming that there is such a dip, it would in fact validate an argument that Klawe made in a scientific paper back in 1995 that the dropout rates for females in science fields is much higher in undergraduate and graduate schools. (Klawe, for what it's worth, dropped out of mathematics undergraduate work, only to return a year later.)
I don't know whether or not we shall see such a drop out increase, though I suspect it.
More likely, the extended add/drop deadline for Harvey Mudd students will come into play as students who took the more challenging courses have more time to determine whether or not to stay in the hard class and so the students who are mismatched into the harder classes won't immediately drop out.
I think, though, even if the numbers come out against Klawe, that she will argue that not enough is being done to create role models for minorities and women at Harvey Mudd College.
When I make the argument that Klawe favors gender-based quotas, I'm not making it in a vacuum. I have written previously about this issue before, but never in as much depth as I'm about to provide.
She has written on creating women role-models for women in science, even though the role-model theory has never been shown to be true and was declared illegal (at least for public schools) by the Supreme Courtin Wygant.
Even still, Klawe, as Dean of Engineering at Princeton, went to high schools and encouraged girls to enter engineering schools.
She believes that the role model theory is true, even though the latest research negates her personal view. At the University of Toronto, researchers have found "found no important influence from the so-called 'model effect,' which measures whether a same-sex instructor would motivate a student to take a subsequent course in his or her field."
The Daily Princetonian once quoted Klawe as follows.
Maria Klawe, the engineering school dean who is cited as one of the most proactive administration officials working on recruiting more minorit[y members of the faculty], says, "The presence of role models of underrepresented groups among the faculty and administration are extremely important in recruiting and retaining students from those groups."This statement suggests that Klawe either ignores, or is ignorant of, the latest research on the "role model" theory.
As Thomas Sowell writes in Affirmative Action Around the World, p. 144.
In 2003, long after "role models" has become a mantra, a survey of empirical studies concluded, "there is no systematic evidence that same-gender or same-race/ethnicity role models have significant f on a rage of dependent variables that they are assumed to influence, including occupational choice, learning, and career success."(See Stephen Cole and Elinor Barber, Increasing Faculty Diversity: The Occupational Choices of High-Achieving Minority Students (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2003), p. 169, cited in Thomas Sowell, Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2004), p. 144.)When we see Klawe's advocacy for "role-models," it's no surprise that she characterized ex-President Larry Summers' famous remarks as "irresponsible and damaging" when he suggested that women may not have the same desire to do science. After all in Klawe's eyes, Summers damaged her famed role-model theory.
Perhaps Klawe needs this role model theory to be true to validate her own experience of trying to recruit minority and women scientists. It seems likely that a president who has talked about the need for affirmative action, who has gone out of her way to recruit women and minorities, who admitted to being a radical in her youth, and who has spent most of her adult career arguing for what amount to quotas for women at the numerous posts she has held would advocate for more women and minorities at the place where she was made president, if only to remain consistent.
After all, during her tenure at Princeton, she was accused of favoring gender-based quotas in computer science and mathematics by two school newspapers, The Tory and The Daily Princetonian.
She argues that women generally do not enter computer science or math because its members tend to discriminate against them. She's made this argument with the Anita Born Institute for Women and Technology.
As usual, Thomas Sowell has debunked this discrimination and women argument in his latest book, Economic Facts and Fallacies. (Tina's borrowed my copy, so allow me to paraphrase.)
In reality, women, particularly women who want to have children, often shy away from computer science or mathematics positions because of the rate of obsolescence in those fields.
As more women chose to have children and often stay home with them, the amount of time they spend out of the field can often make it quite challengingly to reenter the field once their children have grown. Some women decide that they do not want to have children and then earn slightly more than men do in those fields. As fewer women decide to have children or have them later in life, you can expect more women to major in computer science, although they may never return once they have children.