Rivers of ink have been spilled analyzing the recent Supreme Court ruling ending overt race-based affirmative action for college admissions. It begs the question; will this precedent also apply to overt gender discrimination?
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a potentially interesting case. MIT prides itself on having gender-balanced its entering freshman classes for at least the past two decades. How could anyone have a problem with that? And yet, a recent mean-spirited Tweet by Jordan Peterson points to an interesting issue:
What in the world could the old crank be ranting about now? Patiently follow the links down the rabbit hole through the obscure and frankly offensive satire article he was referring to and you find a never-before-published chart of MIT’s undergraduate admissions statistics. Though it took some tedious fact checking, I can verify that the data was correctly extracted from the government’s National Center for Education Statistics database and is not misinformation. ( The “bias ratio” column was calculated and is not part of the NCES statistics.)
I’ve been following the use of Disparate Impact Analysis as a legal tool to support claims of systemic bias and illegal discrimination for years and have rarely seen data this lopsided. Not only do female MIT applicants have more than double the acceptance rate compared to males, but the mathematical consistency over the years suggests the clear use of a gender quota system. ( A little more investigation of the data on the NCES site reveals why women have a 2.2 admissions advantage rather than simply double. It turns out the female “yield” of accepted students is lower. So, in order to gender balance the resulting matriculated class, the admissions office actually has to accept more females than males.)