GPAs, Expensive Textbooks & All-Male Boards

Punishing Women for Being Smart, by Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed

While it’s well-known that women tend to outperform men in high school and college, a new finding shows that women are actually punished for those high grades. Researchers at Ohio State University conducted a resume audit study that tested the impact of job applicants’ GPAs on hiring decisions. They found that while GPAs didn’t impact men’s chances of being selected, women with moderate GPAs were more likely to be selected than women with high GPAs. Natasha Quadlin, assistant professor of sociology and author of the study, suggests that stereotypes about women’s competence are at play. In an earlier, related study, Quadlin found that “likeability” was a factor when considering women, but not when considering men. Taken together, the two studies illustrate the impact of the assumption that highly competent women must not be very nice: high-achieving women may be missing out on job opportunities.

New federal program tackles spiraling costs of college textbooks, by MacKenzie Smith of The Conversation

In an effort to reduce the exorbitant cost of college textbooks, the U.S. Department of Education is unrolling a $5 million pilot program that “will support the creation or improved use of open textbooks for use at any college and university.” While traditional textbooks can cost up to $400 apiece, open textbooks are written on free online platforms by professors who would like to reduce costs for students, explore the benefits of online learning, and give other professors the ability to adapt textbooks for their specific classroom needs. UC Davis University Librarian and Vice Provost for Digital Scholarship MacKenzie Smith does not believe a “one-time grant of $5 million” is “enough,” but she sees this as a symbolic step forward for the federal government and a positive continuation of previous open-source educational programs like MIT’s Open CourseWare Project and OpenStax CNX.

New York State Fund Snubs All-Male Boards, by Joann S. Lublin of The Wall Street Journal

The New York State Common Retirement Fund announced this week that it will oppose the re-election of all directors of corporate boards that don’t have at least one woman director. The fund currently owns shares in over 400 businesses with all-male boards. One company under fire is TransDigm Group Inc., an aircraft part manufacturer. TransDigm just recently re-elected its 11-member, all-male board; between 2006 and today, it has selected more male board members than any other Russel 1500 company. Studies show that female representation on boards improves shareholder returns, and pressure to diversify boards is mounting. Other big investors—like Blackrock Inc. and pension and retirement funds in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and California—have made similar announcements in recent months.

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