Friday, 3 February 2012

Affirmative action for women in math contests boosts participation without dropping results

Focusing on the competitiveness aspect, a new study indicates that policy-based initiatives can increase women's participation and competitiveness in math and the quality of the resulting work. The particular experiment performed by Loukas Balafoutas and Matthias Sutter, released February 2 by Science, involved three methods that provided an initial advantage to women in a math competition. The authors found that, in each case, women entered the competitions more readily, but the aggregate performance of the participants was unaffected, and sometimes even improved.


The three methods they examined were based on initiatives used in European parliaments or public-sector job searches:

1.A quota system was implemented, requiring that a certain proportion of the winners be female;

2.Two related subcases: the highest-performing woman was given preferential treatment in one, while in the other, if a tie occurred in the competition, the woman was always selected;

3.The competition was repeated until a certain fraction of the winners were women.

Note that none of these constitute "reverse discrimination," an accusation affirmative action plans often face. In no case was a top-performing man denied a reward if he outperformed everyone else. The main effect the researchers found was an increase in the number of able women willing to participate.


For more details see

No comments:

Post a Comment