Response to Gender Bias

Emily Roper-Doten, our dean of admission, stated that Olin admission is not gender biased . In good faith, I tried to parse her argument, and the best I came up with is: “It’s not easier for women. Full stop.” This is not an argument.

I assert that Olin is biased in its admission. There is a larger male applicant pool and lower acceptance rate of men. Emily also states, “Olin has a commitment to equal membership in the class of students who identify as male and female by legal sex”. To conclude non-bias, there would have to be another piece of illuminating evidence to support non-bias. Emily never provides such evidence. If Olin were to publish success metrics grouped by gender, such as SAT, essay scores, or Olin GPA, we can judge the claim for ourselves.

In trying to construct an argument in absence of evidence, I came up with two theories. Both are made *instantly unambiguous* with a few aggregated numbers. First, it is possible that female applicants submit higher quality applications overall. Emily states: “We must be careful not to assume that the size of an applicant pool, or a subset of an applicant pool, is an indicator of application quality or admissibility.” This hints that female applications are better, but it is not directly stated. If female applications were better, though, it would fly in the face of the overall argument that any population subset is inherently equal to all others. Another theory is random sampling. Since every candidate has cleared a consistent standard, it is possible that a subset of applications are chosen that are above the bar. For example, 80 out of 80 females could be invited to candidates weekend and 80 random males out of the 120 that passed the bar are invited.

When discussing this bias, our strategy should be to lay out the reasons for forced diversity. We should reaffirm that everyone has a high bar (different as it may be). We can also note that population level differences are not wide enough or specific enough to make individual judgements. The reasons for diversity are good; we should stand behind them. One of Olin’s founding precepts is equal gender representation and the Olin experiment has had success. Also, clearly different perspectives and experiences aid creativity.

Emily brought up an important question: How should female students reply to questions of worthiness? How about this: “My past accomplishments are what got me here, same as you. Let’s add two more flyback diodes.”

I understand this can be a sensitive topic. And I believe women are strong enough to handle the truth.

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