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Anyone Think Being Female Boosts Chances of Admission at Any Top CS Schools

WalknOnEggShellsWalknOnEggShells 605 replies28 threads Member
This is for my daughter. She's not looking for ANY top CS school. She's interested in specific schools, but I didn't want to list them all in the title. She's not hellbent on top schools either. She's very interested in a bunch of schools that aren't known for CS at all, and aren't super selective. But she's considering adding a couple of high reaches among the schools that have strong reputations for CS.

A few that she has some interest in are Cornell, Georgia Tech, UCLA, UPenn, Rice, Duke, Dartmouth, UVA, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, and Northwestern. Would anyone responding please do me a favor and help me keep this on track. I don't want this to turn into another debate about prestige. I realize the main thing these schools have in common is selectivity. She realizes that too. It's not her biggest concern, but she wants some prestigious schools on her list. Period, the end... I hope :-)

Anyway, here's my main question. I've written about this kid before here. She has a high GPA(somewhere in the 96 - 98 range for unweighted) and test scores - 1540 - 800 Math and 740 EBRW. Her ECs are fairly limited for a kid with those stats. She has ECs, but just not the type of ECs that most kids applying to the super selective schools have. She took AP CS this year(Junior) and did well, and she'll be taking another CS course next year.

I've been reading that some of the top CS and Engineering schools are making a big effort to recruit girls for their programs, but I'm wondering about a couple of things:

1)In general, can being female, having good stats, and having a demonstrated interest in CS overcome ECs that would normally disqualify a kid at a super selective school?

2)Does anyone know of specific schools that are aggressively pursuing girls for CS and are more likely to make the kind of trade off I mentioned in question 1 above?

And just to reiterate, if someone says Prestigious School X is doing exactly that, but it's not a school my daughter can see herself at, she's not going to drop all of her current favorites and apply ED to school X because it's prestigious. If it's a school she likes, she'll apply, but if it isn't, she won't. I realize people here are just concerned about kids being swayed too easily by prestige, but this kid has her head on straight.

OK, I think the dead horse has been beaten :-) Sorry, I've just been through this too many times :-)

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
92 replies
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Replies to: Anyone Think Being Female Boosts Chances of Admission at Any Top CS Schools

  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4184 replies92 threads Senior Member
    UCLA does not consider gender (or race) for admissions.
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  • WalknOnEggShellsWalknOnEggShells 605 replies28 threads Member
    Interesting. I didn't know that. I guess I knew about race, but not gender.
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  • MWolfMWolf 2206 replies14 threads Senior Member
    The non-UC school may consider her more closely because she's a woman, but they may not. It's likely that it will help, but there is no telling how much. After all, a 50% "boost" seems big, but it just brings a 5% chance to a 7.5%. A 95% chance for rejection is not substantially different from a 92.5% chance. So when she applies, it is better that she not assume that her gender will give her a boost.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 24098 replies19 threads Senior Member
    I'm not sure it will help at the big schools. Big schools try to maintain a 50/50 ratio but UVA can make it up in other departments. Some of the small STEM schools have a big discrepancy and they do seem to want to attract more female students. WPI and RPI have been rumored to do so.

    Colorado School of Mines tried to do it a few years ago and accepted many more females than they had traditionally accepted. It didn't really work out very well and I think many of those women decided a STEM school wasn't for them. I got this information from female students and that was their view, that just trying to accept more females doesn't work. I do think the schools try to accept all the qualified females and maybe even put the thumb on the scale when handing out merit aid.

    It certainly doesn't HURT to be female.
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  • osuprofosuprof 428 replies28 threads Member
    Cornell engineering had 18% acceptance rate for women and 6% for men one year (class of 2022?). UIUC is a top CS program and does favor women to get a more balanced class.

    In general, if the admission for computer science (or college of engineering, and computer being in engineering) is separate, there will likely be a gender advantage (UCs may be an exception). If the admission is not specific to a college or major (or if CS is in art and science), you will not see an advantage.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 9239 replies93 threads Senior Member
    There was another thread a while ago, which I would link if I could remember the title, that had some data showing that women tend to be more qualified when applying to more selective colleges. So, even though the admit rate might look higher for women, they are the stronger applicants within the pool.

    Look at the schools on your list’s male/female percentage. The closer to 50/50, the less likely there will be a bump. Cornell is 50/50 now in the COE

    I agree that it’s usually the smaller STEM schools where the bump is more real, not the schools on your D’s list.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30029 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Yes, many do.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 3935 replies71 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    It can be difficult to come by numbers specific to CS--whether acceptance rate or gender ratio/target.

    Being female can probably help at some schools where the gender ratio is imbalanced, for example, UIUC School of Engineering (and CS specifically) has a greater than 3:1 M:F ratio. http://www.dmi.illinois.edu/stuenr/#CDS
    What we don't know is the degree (if any) that schools will give on stats, ECs, etc. to get more of a female balance.

    Some public schools are relatively more stats oriented (less holistic) than highly selective privates tend to be, meaning ECs may carry relatively less weight. I have only heard of WPI and RIT specifically stating they would like to increase female enrollment in CS, but I am sure there are more schools with that goal.

    edited June 2019
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1844 replies35 threads Senior Member
    Of course it helps. Any STEM-focused colleges, as well as engineering and CS-specific schools that require separate applications, have an imbalance of applicants in terms of gender. Many more males apply than females. In addition, the yield for female admits is significantly lower. These two factors together mean these schools would have to accept far more female applicants than male applicants, if they want to achieve a rough gender balance within their colleges or departments.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 3935 replies71 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    These two factors together mean these schools would have to accept far more female applicants than male applicants, if they want to achieve a rough gender balance within their colleges or departments.

    But that's just it, some schools don't care about gender balance by department/major, college or even overall. And as someone stated upthread, some schools use other majors that are predominantly female to balance those that are predominantly male.
    edited June 2019
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 9239 replies93 threads Senior Member
    Here's one of the articles I was looking for: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/03/13/want-an-edge-in-college-admissions-see-the-schools-where-women-and-men-have-an-advantage/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.7886df4c480f

    This is specific to MIT but: “The data don’t show that it is easier to be admitted as a woman applicant — that would only be true if our male and female applicant pools were equivalent. But the women who apply are a more self-selecting group."
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1844 replies35 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    ^^Most colleges and departments within these colleges do care about gender balance these days. Either the optics of a mostly male CS department and a mostly female English department just doesn't work, or a STEM-focused college likely doesn't have a comparable sized humanity/social sciences departments.
    edited June 2019
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 1844 replies35 threads Senior Member
    edited June 2019
    I agree that female applicants to MIT or Caltech are more self-selected than their male counterparts. However, these female applicants typically have more options, and once accepted, they, more often than male admits, tend to choose Harvard or Standard instead for a number of reasons. To account for the disparity in yields, STEM-focused colleges would have to admit more females applicants.
    edited June 2019
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 9239 replies93 threads Senior Member
    OP- of your D's list of schools, I think she'd get the most boost from GT. They are working hard to close their gender gap: https://www.news.gatech.edu/features/unstoppable-tech-women-are-changing-game

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  • SincererLoveSincererLove 764 replies24 threads Member
    Is CS your application strategy or her demonstrated interest? I only read that she is doing AP CS class. That alone seems to be pretty weak. Any summer camps or related ECs? How is her math level and skills? SAT subject tests?

    I think almost all the top CS, Engineering schools are looking at ECs and everything else the same way, holistically. Trying to find a major to get better treatment for admission might not be a good strategy if your D lost interest or could potentially struggle in CS. Our D17 is CS premed junior at Vandy and also a TA. She has seen a lot of girls struggle, amazingly, they tend to find the very few female TAs without accents. She usually gives them more advice on studying, professors, etc besides the particular coding assignment. Lol
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35301 replies399 threads Senior Member
    At top colleges, being female isn't enough to tip one in, without the rest of the picture. It will be different at colleges that don't scrutinize holistically.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30029 replies59 threads Senior Member
    When you are looking at schools and departments with accept rates in low single digits, even doubling them isn’t going make any school anything but a reach.
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  • yucca10yucca10 1390 replies40 threads Senior Member
    Without knowing your daughter's ECs it's hard to tell. Yes, in selective schools girls have advantage in STEM subjects, but there are plenty of girl applicants with impressive ECs.
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  • mathmommathmom 32910 replies160 threads Senior Member
    Pretty much agree with the others, unless you apply to a tech school or a school where you apply to CS or Engineering separately there is unlikely to be much of a boost. It looks like at Cornell CS can be either College of Arts and Sciences or the College of Engineering.

    The thing is many students may say they are interested in CS, but I think close to half of freshmen change their minds about majors, so I don't know how much weight admissions officers really put on prospective majors. She might benefit from having more programming ECs or summer activities. My kids poked around a lot with MIT's open courseware, helped out at the computer lab at the senior center, did various discrete programming projects for med school profs, did game mods, and probably other stuff I can't remember.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2726 replies5 threads Senior Member
    "1)In general, can being female, having good stats, and having a demonstrated interest in CS overcome ECs that would normally disqualify a kid at a super selective school?"

    It could overcome as a lot of ECs (robotics, hackathons, olympiads etc) expected at super-selective schools are not typically welcoming to girls, that's just the way it is. This was discussed really well, imo, in a women in CS thread on cc. So they could accept based on potential, talent than accomplishments.

    2)Does anyone know of specific schools that are aggressively pursuing girls for CS and are more likely to make the kind of trade off I mentioned in question 1 above?

    Yes, many of them are not on your list, but Stanford, Berkeley, CMU, MIT, Cal Tech are trying to fix the gender balance in CS. From the list, I think as others have mentioned, Georgia Tech, Cornell are trying to attract more girls for CS.

    "I think almost all the top CS, Engineering schools are looking at ECs and everything else the same way, holistically."

    If holistic means the context of CS ECs being male dominated and unwelcoming, maybe hostile, and accounting for that, sure.

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