Counter-view: Where are all the men?

Each year fewer men are getting their undergraduate degrees compared to women in the United States. What is happening to the male population? Where are they all going? Is higher education not appealing to them?

Possible theories are a lot of them join the military at some capacity. Maybe find a job to support the family, even though getting a degree would increase job prospects.  Enrollment of male students from minority and ethnic groups has not been up like it did with the opposite sex from the same demographic.

Considering there is an increase in the intake of women into the corporate workforce because of their qualification and men do not catch up with women with their education. Will there be a situation in the US where the women have white collar jobs and the men blue collared ones? Is it high time that we send back the men to school to get a degree? Or do women enjoy the status for once in their life on earth?

Future of the University

I am a strong advocate for women and their roles in STEM. Before taking the Preparing for the Future Professoriate class this spring I did not know that in any given year since 1982 there are more women getting their undergraduate degrees than men in the United States. This is because in India this is never the case and all the exposure I had was the Indian educational system. I was accustomed to being in classrooms where women made up only one-forths or one-fifths the class strength and in some rare cases a little less than 50% of the class.

With the awe that women were doing much better in the United States than in India. I was dreaming of the day when India will reach such numbers. All these dreams were shattered when I looked at the enrollment numbers at Virginia Tech. There are about 77 female students for every 100 male students at Virginia Tech and the main reason for this is that the University is majorly an engineering school.

Why is it that women do not think Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) are fields that they can pursue with an equal standing as men? Is it because the society tells these young women “STEM subjects are not what your mind can take in and comprehend so please do a subject that is not STEM”?

Is there a way to correct such stereotypes in the society? One of the solutions I can think of and I believe Virginia Tech is already doing is promoting science at elementary school level. Also, Hiring more women faculty can also help female students who join the Univesity have role models and mentors, encouraging them to pursue their careers in STEM fields.

Science in Trump’s America

Science March 2017 Blacksburg VA

It was raining on the evening of April 22, 2017. This did not stop the townies of Blacksburg; faculty, and students from Virginia Tech marching down the streets of Downtown and the VT campus. The protesters were vocal,  they did not want the United States Government and particularly President Trump to go ahead with the new budget that will kill funding for almost all federal science organization.

The direness of the situation becomes evident with this protest. because most scientists are peace loving people. One of the slogans that stood out to me was:

“What do we want?”

“Evidence based science”

“When do we want it?”

“After peer-review”

I hope the effort of the thousands of people does not get wasted and something positive comes out of this effort.

Open Access Journal : eLife

eLife is a peer-reviewed open access journal for the life sciences. It started as a collaborative effort by the three institutes:

  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute, MD, United States
  • Max Planck Society, Munich, Germany
  • Wellcome Trust, London, United Kingdom

at the end of 2012. Their administrative office is located in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

The eLife website gives the viewers a list of reasons for choosing it, they are:

  • Speed: The initial decision is made within a few days of submitting the paper for review and the final decision is made in about a month.
  • Review: There is only a single round of review process after which the reviewers give the authors a fair and constructive review. If the paper gets published then the reviews are also published along with the paper.
  • Research Assessment: The papers that get published will have indicators that describe the reach and influence of the paper. The journal also makes a point that it does not promote the use of a single number that describes the journal

eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd is a non-profit, for about four years the journal did not charge the authors for publishing in the journal and starting January 1, 2017, it charges the authors a nominal fee to publish their research. For the readers, the journal is completely free to read as soon as the paper gets published.

MOOCs: What did edX learn in 4 years?

In December of 2016, the edX team released HarvardX and MITx: Four Years of Open Online Courses. Some of the important statistics that stood out to me in this report are:

  • There are about 2.4 million participants from all over the world, out of which 60% of the participants are from the outside of United States of America.
  • Only 33% of the participants were female. The percentage of female participation was as high as 47% in fields like humanities, religion, design and education while it was a low of 16-17% in fields like STEM and computer science.
  • About 45% of the participants belong to 20-30 years age group.
  • 73% of participants have a bachelor’s degree.
  • The median certification rate is as low as 7.7% across the 263 courses offered.

 

Ethics

Ethics in education and research is a set of principles individuals – students and researchers, and institutes – universities adhere to.  What those principles are, are defined by the field they belong to, for a student, it is dishonoring the honor code to copy in a test and for a researcher to falsify results of their work. Even though an individual might inherently know something is unethical, there might be a number of factors that might influence him/her the unethical. Here university can as a whole play a role by pre-defining the principles it is built upon or wishes to follow. But, defining those principles is not sufficient it has to have classes and workshops at all levels: students to faculty to administrators, to educated them.

Looking at the Office of Research Integrity site, and the various cases of Research Misconduct they dealt with, it the institutes and universities that reported and investigated the research of the individual under suspicion. This asserts that the Universities take misconduct in research very seriously. But there might be some reason why these individuals actually go to lengths of fabricating, falsifying and plagiarizing… Is it the “publish or perish”  pressure from the research community? Or is it just a matter of convenience? I think it is important that we as a university address these questions. How can we create an atmosphere where research can be done without extream pressure? This will decrease the extream pressures experienced by researchers to publish.

Also, how can we create an atmosphere where research can be done without extream pressure? Will this just decrease the extream pressures experienced by researchers to publish? Or will it just decrease the research quality and quantity of the institute?

Comparing Mission Statements

As an international student, I want to compare a university in India to one in the United States. What’s better than the one I spent 5 years as an Undergrad and a Grad student in India, University of Hyderabad.  And, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States where I spent 10 weeks as a summer intern.

Location: Hyderabad, Telangana
Country: India
Type of University: Public research university

The objects of the University are to disseminate and advance knowledge by providing instructional and research facilities in such branches of learning as it may deem fit and by the example of its corporate life, and in particular to make special provisions for integrated courses in humanities and science in the educational programmes of the University and to take appropriate measures for promoting inter-disciplinary studies and research in the University.


Location: Madison, WI
Country: United States of America
Type of University: Public research university (Land and Sea-grant)

The primary purpose of the University of Wisconsin–Madison is to provide a learning environment in which faculty, staff and students can discover, examine critically, preserve and transmit the knowledge, wisdom and values that will help ensure the survival of this and future generations and improve the quality of life for all. The university seeks to help students to develop an understanding and appreciation for the complex cultural and physical worlds in which they live and to realize their highest potential of intellectual, physical and human development.

The mission statement of University of Hyderabad is short and vague with an emphasis on “integrated courses” and “interdisciplinary research”. While the mission statement from University of Wisconsin-Madison explicitly states that it wants to create an environment where all members of the university community can come together to “improve the quality of life for all”. The statement goes further and points out all the steps it is going to take achieve the goals in the mission statement. This includes providing a balanced education, with emphasis diversity, inclusion, and community service.