More math emphasis would help close college gender gap

According to a recent story in Time Magazine, 58 percent of undergraduates across the nation are women. The gender gap on campus is becoming a huge problem nationwide, so much so that universities are considering affirmative action for the oppressed minority: the men.

I may have stumbled across a solution.

You see, women typically make up 20 percent of my classes. Thus, either my presence repels women, or this disparity has something to do with the fact that I’m a math major minoring in computer science. Either possibility will present a solution to TCU’s gender gap problem – but for the purpose of this column I would like to assume that women are not repulsed by me.

It then becomes clear that the best way to address the gender imbalance on campus is to emphasize the quantitative sciences – math, physics, computer science and engineering.

While the exact gender ratio in these majors is hard to pin down, “Choice of Major: The Changing (Unchanging) Gender Gap,” in the Industrial and Labor Relations Review, suggests that the male to female ratio in the quantitative science majors is roughly 2:1 and growing.

I’ve just returned from a math conference where the ratio was as bad as 15:1. My experience is that unless the organizers apply heavy-handed affirmative action policies, these ratios are typical for most math-related events and activities.

I won’t speculate on the reasons behind this gap in the quantitative sciences. Let me just say that I believe this is a problem of interest rather than ability – I don’t think it’s true that women are wired to be bad at math. But I believe the quantitative sciences are worse off as a result of this gender imbalance.

However, regardless of the reason, it is clear that this imbalance exists, and will continue to exist in the near future. TCU should use the quantitative sciences to correct the skewed male to female ratio on campus.

Generally, campuses that place more emphasis on the quantitative sciences have less of a problem with high male to female ratios. For instance, according to the Iowa State Daily, Iowa State has managed to buck the national trend and maintain an enrollment that is 57 percent male. This may have something to do with the fact that their full name is the “Iowa State University of Science and Technology.”

Hence, to attract male students, admissions should assign more weight to the math SAT and AP classes in computer science, calculus and physics. We should increase the pay of professors in math, engineering, physics and computer science and hire more of them to attract prospective quantitative science majors.

TCU should also let the math department have the M.S. and PhD. programs we’ve been asking for. These actions will result in either a more balanced gender ratio at TCU, or more women in the quantitative sciences, both of which are good things.

I believe that we can solve the gender imbalance problem the same way prudent universities solve all their problems: by giving the math department more money.

Darren Ong is a junior math major from Kuching, Malaysia.