rmldad - my impression is that as a percentage, more women may get admitted to MIT and Caltech but those who apply as well as those who are admitted show the kind of passion for research and technology that are in no way inferior to the men applying. They just have a better shot since fewer women apply and have gone onto do amazing things after MIT or Caltech.
You should see some of the resumes of the women that have been rejected. I don't believe they are any less qualified either but MIT has to draw a line somewhere.
I have interviewed many students over the years that I have been an EC, and from my limited perspective, the self-selection is the key factor. I have interviewed several exceptional girls and some exceptional boys, and at the top end, there is not much to choose between them. However, at the bottom end, things are very different.
I have interviewed many more uncompetitive boys than I have uncompetitive girls. I see many, many more boys who apply to MIT, almost at whim, with no reasonable prospect of acceptance, than I see girls. Almost all of the girls are competitive.
I might be a little cynical here. So many arguments suggest that girls are academically stronger than boys because girl applicants have higher admission rates year after year. But when you look at the female faculty composition in MIT, it is around 17% in school of engineering and similar % in school of sciences, a far cry from its student body and the general population. In some departments female faculty number can be counted in one hand. When you look at the supporting and administrative staffs, you do find disproportion numbers of female names there. Does this mean in the highest level of science and engineering, men happen to be better than women? An alternative explanation for this is that the old boy system in MIT prefers men over women. If former is true, girls’ potential may be overrated. If latter is true, MIT would be a hypocrite.
Does this mean in the highest level of science and engineering, men happen to be better than women? An alternative explanation for this is that the old boy system in MIT prefers men over women.
It's a complex issue, and one that is a concern to many people in academic science and engineering. The problem seems not to be female aptitude, and it doesn't really seem to be active discrimination (at least not in major part). It's not that women aren't competitive for top-level faculty positions.
A large share of the blame is given to the academic lifestyle -- that being a top-level scientist or engineer requires a huge commitment of time and energy, which is not trivially compatible with raising a family. There are many programs starting to be put in place at schools around the country (more on-campus childcare slots for faculty, a one- or two-year break in the tenure clock for faculty members who have children, etc.), but it's too early to say which of them might be effective at stopping the "leaky pipeline" of women flowing out of academia.
I would think it's the same in medicine -- that more female medical school graduates choose "lifestyle specialties" not because they don't have the aptitude or the USMLE scores, nor because the good old boys in the department don't want any dames around to spoil the fun, but because they see life-consuming specialties as incompatible with having a family.
a lot of it is time delay too. women outnumber men in math degrees awarded per year across the country if i recall correctly. yet because that is a relatively recent trend, there is lag in the top PhD programs, and then you figure a decade or so to build the sort of career that leads you to be a professor at a place like MIT.
point is there are a huge number of factors and it's all incredibly complex and it boils down to: we have really smart girls who apply to MIT and we admit a lot of them because they are awesome.
As a parent, I am sad to see some of these postings about women applicants. That will hurt potential women applicants to MIT. I can show some light here, Top 3 students from my daughter's HS are girls, who are all applying to MIT along with so many other boys. MIT admissions will have a clear choice here right. I firmly believe MIT admissions does a fair evaluations on the candidates/applicants. Nothing else. If you're the right fit to MIT, you get in. That's it.
Umm... of the 500 USAMO Qualifiers 2 were women this year... yet somehow MIT purports they have a stronger pool of female applicants. I find that very hard to believe.
Of the applicant pool, it is likely that the top 5% of males and females (the category in which the 500 USAMO qualifiers fall) are roughly equal. Today, it might actually be the case that this is tipped slightly in favor of men.
However, I'm almost positive that the bottom 50% of guys will be far less qualified than their female counterpart. Guys are more likely to apply "for the hell of it". Guys are more likely to have an inflated self-esteem. The percentage of admissible females in the applicant pool is probably near a 100, I don't know what the figure would be for guys but I think it will be a good deal less.