Why Female Engineering Students Are Discouraged: Really?

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Below is an extract from Inside Higher Ed.

Begin Quote: Why Female Engineering Students Are Discouraged: October 26, 2011 – 3:00am

Women perform as well as men in engineering courses, but are less likely to stay in the field because of a confidence gap, according to research published in the new issue of American Sociological Review. Women are less likely to feel “professional role confidence,” the study found, which has to do both with their view of their own talent and also of their sense that they are in the correct field. “Often, competence in engineering is associated in people’s minds with men and masculinity more than it is with women and femininity. So, there are these micro-biases that happen, and when they add up, they result in women being less confident in their expertise and their career fit,” said the lead author of the study, Erin Cech, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research. End Quote 
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2011/10/26/why-female-engineering-students-are-discouraged#ixzz1c2l4sNLA

If this is the best that Stanford can do, we are in bad shape.  Professional role confidence? Engineering is associated with masculinity? Women feel less confident? Really? And therefore, what? Will Stanford offer a new course on Engineering and Feminity? Or how to make engineering feminine? May be a confidence pill? How about men in nursing? Do they need a confidence pill as well? Such reports and findings contribute nothing to our understanding of how to help our students and the US compete globally. Confidence, or lack thereof, is a universal problem and a universal aspiration. It spans all careers, all age groups, all disciplines, all nations, and all economic strata, albeit in varying degrees. There is no cure for it. Many of us suffer with it in some area or the other and we work our way through it.

We have women in the battlefield winning wars and medals. Is the military masculine? Did it stop women from enrolling and becoming leaders? Do these women feel less confident? We must stop splitting hairs and wasting resources on reports that are then widely publicized and become “truths.” Women AND men are strong, talented, confident. Some men lack confidence – some women lack confidence. Some professions are perceived as masculine, others feminine. So what? Ask women CEOs – they will tell you there were times when they did not feel confident or on top of the world. Yet, they plugged along. They persevered; they worked hard – harder. They didn’t blame others – instead, they tried to better themselves. They didn’t say or think about writing reports on their lack of confidence. They kept their eye on the goal and kept working. Most women do the same – they just don’t publish reports.

Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the President and Founder of STEM.SMART, a non-profit dedicated to the advancement of STEM.


No need for another STEM Commission or Report!

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Over the last two decades, there have been countless high-powered government, non-profit, private, and other entities that have formed Commissions and generated reports to study why there are so few women and minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The theme has remained consistent. It is the same issues, over and over again. Old message, new team. Same message, new team. Frankly, much of this analysis about why students are not pursuing STEM degrees is commonsense. How is a scientist or technologist born. Begins with curiosity about the world in which we live. Students must be encouraged to ask “Why?” “How?” – not just study to standardized tests. Next, education is not entertainment. Education is hard work. Calculus is hard work. Chemistry is hard work. Physics is …. well, is brain power. So, if we go into the classroom with Powerpoint, our kids earn no points. Next, the less time a kid spends in school, the less time he learns. No surprises here. Finally, bad teachers destroy lives, kill your spirit. Good teachers take average people and turn them into stars. So the equation is simple: Foundation of STEM = Curiosity+ Strong fundamentals + Longer hours at school + Good teachers.  Give or take a couple of other issues, but this is the finding of every commission for the last two decades. Now, we can do another commission or report or we can get to work in building a strong future.

Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the Founder and President of STEM.SMART, a non-profit organization dedicated to STEM.


Cheat on college essays and get caught!

Writing a college essay is hard (Writing, for that matter, is hard work!0. It is difficult, time-consuming, and challenging. Who wants to stare at a blank sheet of paper? Who wants to toil for hours to write the perfect essay, only to find that an Admissions Officer is not impressed. Why not have someone else write the perfect college essay? Thinking about hiring someone to write for you? Think again!

Pennsylvania State University’s M.B.A. program was among the first to sign up for Turnitin for Admissions. More than two dozen institutions worldwide have used the service, and some colleges (as yet unnamed) have incorporated it into their review of undergraduate applicants, according to Jeff Lorton, product- and business-development manager at Turnitin for Admissions.

“A lot of jaws are dropping,” Mr. Lorton said of admissions officials surprised by the levels of matching they’ve seen. “There are people seeking an advanced degree at the most selective institutions who can’t even write their own personal statements.”


Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the founder and CEO of PlanetGPA.com


Online learning worth it?

Here is a question we received from a student:


 I found your article through some source hunting and found it very very helpful. Actually, am planning to purse Masters in Transportation and Logistics Management from American Public University, distance learning. Since, I live and work in Dubai, UAE and am Indian national, could you please advise, if Masters program from this university are accredited all over the globe? Thanks so much in advance.  Rgds

You are asking two different questions: 1) accreditation, 2)online learning.

Accreditation: U.S. university programs are accredited by different agencies/organizations in the U.S. These agencies ensure the quality of the programs. They review faculty credentials, courses offered, and how these programs prepare students for jobs. Accreditation is a good thing! You want to look for programs that are accredited.

Second, distance learning or on-line learning. There are a number of good on-line programs. The on-line program has the same credit and value as a classroom program. You don't even need to tell your future employer that it is an on-line degree unless asked.

Hope this helps!

Dr. Gupta is the founder and CEO of PlanetGPA.com, an on-line company that helps international students find the right university and program.




Ten Commandments for a Good College Essay

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How to write a good college essay:

Writing  a college essay is hard work. In fact, it is probably one of the most difficult assignments that students will encounter in their educational career. Staring at a blank page with nothing to say or not knowing what to say is a sinking feeling. Essays require many iterations; they should be reviewed by people from different backgrounds and age groups. Getting your friend to review your essay is not a great idea! First, the Admission Officer in all likelihood is older than your friend and second, most of your friends will not want to hurt your feelings. There are extensive resources on how to write a good essay. A few are listed at the end of this article. Just as how it is important to know how to write a good essay, it is equally important to know what not to do.

Ten Commandments for Writing a Good College Essay:

  1. Thou shall not lie by passing off someone else’s work as yours. You can always ask someone to review your essay and give you ideas. But if someone else is writing your essay for you, well then, that is a bad idea.
  2. Thou shall not use words that would require the reader to use a dictionary.
  3. Thou shall not tell stories that are not true simply because they sound impressive.
  4. Thou shall adhere to the length recommended by the university. If the university requests a two page essay, writing five will not put you on top of the heap.
  5. Thou shall not list every award you won since you were in elementary school.
  6. Thou shall not elaborate on how you are 100% confident about winning the Nobel Prize.
  7. Thou shall not whine about what a tough life you have had.
  8. Thou shall be truthful about your goals and accomplishments.
  9. Thou shall not cut and paste.
  10. Thou shall not commit spelling and grammatical errors.

Below are some great resources for how to write a good college essay:





 It is hard work, but if you do the work, you will be proud of yourself and you would have an important skill!

Dr. Uma G. Gupta is the CEO and Founder of PlanetGPA.com

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Scholarships for graduate study in US

Many colleges and universities in the US that offer graduae programs also offer scholarships to good students. Scholarships and financial aid help students from all over the world earn a great education in the US. In order to get a scholarship, you must apply early and your application must be complete. While many students want to know if they will get a scholarship even before they apply, most universities will not guarantee a scholarship till the student applies to the university. Here is one resource that offers some information on graduate scholarships

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Why is tuition at US colleges and universities impossible to find?

While the cost of attending college is steadily increasing, the challenge of finding what it will cost to attend on an institutional website is getting even more challenging. Why? I wish we knew, but I don't. Buried deep where it cannot be found or if found one will need an interpreter to understand the English and compute the math, finding the exact cost of attending a given institution is ridiculously difficult at most institutions. It should not be this way, but it is and it has been this way for years. It makes no sense that one of the most critical pieces of information for a parent or a student is simply not readily available on a university website. Add to this frustration that when you find this treasure of information, it is not what you think it is. There are additional fees and charges that you can never find out or that will be buried in some other part of the website and whola! when you are in line to pay your fees, you will realize that there is a deeper hole in your pocket. And so today I want to salute those institutions that don't hide the tuition six layers deep, write in clear and understandable language, provide contact details should a visitor have questions, and are committed to helping parents making sensible decisions. Thank you.

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