Gender Gap in foreign students

Ted Weverka (
Thu, 7 May 1998 14:40:34 -0700

This article entirely missed the biggest Gender Inequity in our nations
schools, and our nations best opportunity influence international

There is no greater gender gap than that in our foreign students.
Foreign nations discriminate against women in their educational
opportunities, preparing many more men than women for graduate
education, and the students they send to this country are overwhelmingly
male. While we have more female than male American citizens getting
masters degrees, we are granting this degree to twice as many male
foreign students as female foreign students. At the PhD. level, the
gender balance is close for American students, but almost 4 to 1 in
favor of male foreign students over female foreign students.

So much of the graduate education has Federal funding, that we do have
the opportunity to require colleges to enforce a more equitable
distribution of international students. By instituting an aggressive
affirmative action program promoting female foreign students, we can
influence the nations of the world on equal educational opportunities.

I have written to my Senators on this issue, with no response so far.
Should the members of this list have suggestions for furthering this
cause, I would welcome them.

Robert Weverka <>

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []
> Sent: Wednesday, April 22, 1998 5:29 AM
> To:
> Forwarded from WISENET
> ______________________________________________________________
> _________________
> From: Women In Science and Engineering NETwork
> at Internet
> Date: 4/21/98 22:39
> Economists Jagdish Bhagwati and Milind Rao Explain the
> Economics of the
> Present Labor "Glut" in the Science and Engineering Labor Market.
> Q: What are the major causes of the present "glut" of scientists and
> engineers and why is the situation not abating?
> by Jagdish Bhagwati and Milind Rao
> What a difference a few years makes. Until very
> recently, voices
> filled the air with complaints that the United States lacked
> adequate science talent. Now, suddenly, a widely-reported
> Stanford-RAND study has drawn an alarming picture of a glut of
> science & engineering Ph.D.s. Current S&E graduates, the study
> claims, have low prospects of getting suitable jobs,
> with perhaps
> one in four having to accept a position below the
> expected rung
> of university instructor or corporate researcher. Calls for
> reductions in science education have begun to be heard in the
> land. There are demands even to reduce foreign student
> admissions
> and to restrict the entry of foreign scientists to the United
> States.
> But these demands are badly flawed. A benign, even beneficial,
> situation has been misportrayed by alarmists as something
> harmful. A "glut" of scientists and engineers is something we
> should welcome rather than deplore. Abundance makes talent
> available to increasing numbers of universities, research labs
> and corporations that otherwise could not access it.
> Foreign students are in fact, at the heart of both the "glut"
> and its beneficial effects for the United States. Large
> proportions of the students coming out of American science and
> engineering graduate schools today are foreign students. The
> cause of this is a sharp increase in superbly trained and
> screened foreign applicants. These students study. They make
> valuable contributions in university labs. And because they
> generally end up as immigrants they add to the supply of
> talented scientific manpower in the country, which can only
> benefit the United States.
> And the foreigners themselves also benefit, even in an
> oversupplied professional market. For the fact is, even a
> secondary position in the United States is usually going to be
> more stimulating and lucrative than working in their home
> country for many of the young scientists in question. Even
> deflated by the Stanford-RAND estimates of only a
> three-in-four
> chance of getting a "suitable" job, the returns to individual
> students and to the U.S. from graduate science education are
> quite attractive.
> First, the facts: In 1990, over 50 percent of the engineering
> Ph.D. s in the United States were awarded to foreign students.
> The figures are almost as high in mathematics, physics,
> chemistry, and computer science. More than eight out of every
> ten foreign graduate students in the U.S. is in a S&E program,
> with over half of these students coming from just four
> countries: Taiwan, China, Korea, and India.
> The vast majority of these students are tremendously talented.
> From among the large populations in their home
> countries they are
> hand picked through mandarin-style entrance examinations for
> undergraduate study at their leading national universities and
> institutes. Their supply has increased substantially
> as the four
> countries named above have built up first-rate scientific and
> engineering programs, often with the help of America's best
> universities. Thus, for instance, about three-fourths
> of the U.S.
> engineering Ph.D.s recently awarded to Indians went to
> graduates
> of the prestigious institutes of technology there, while
> two-thirds of those going to South Koreans went to
> graduates of
> the famous Seoul National University. These gifted and
> splendidly trained students apply into our S&E
> programs and win a
> growing share of our admissions, which are based
> overwhelmingly
> on merit.
> The explosion of superb foreign applicants to science and
> engineering programs has not been accompanied by similar
> increases among native- born Americans. In fact, there is some
> evidence that science and engineering programs have recently
> become slightly less attractive to our best native-born
> students. The "professional" schools of law, medicine, and
> business have substantially better starting salaries
> at present,
> and a small edge also in average rates of return. S&E graduate
> programs, on the other hand, are vastly more attractive to
> talented foreign students because most of them are
> cash-strapped, and professional schools, unlike S&E programs,
> offer little financial aid or paid research employment for
> graduate students.
> The preponderance of foreign students in S&E programs has an
> important consequence in the technical job market-certain
> "gluts" are likely to persist. The traditional way in
> which such
> "gluts" are removed is simply by market forces: students walk
> away from education that yields low rates of return. But when
> foreign students are in the game, the market returns must fall
> more drastically before this happens. Even the currently
> diminished rates of return are unlikely to turn away
> foreign S&E
> students, because even these reduced rates return will be
> favorable compared to the compensation in their home
> countries.
> Thus, even if they must wind their way down to
> second-tier jobs
> at smaller colleges instead of MIT or Caltech, or less
> lucrative
> corporate positions, they will still do substantially better
> than had they stayed or returned home. This means that
> scientist
> and engineer gluts, and consequent gripes against
> universities,
> can be expected to continue.
> But why should we take this as a problem? As these Ph.D.s
> eventually take jobs downstream, their expertise becomes
> available to institutions and firms that can benefit from
> superior talent and education at unexpectedly
> affordable prices.
> Economists have documented how such downstreaming improves
> national medical care, for instance, as doctors crowded into
> urban areas find their earnings falling and then begin
> to settle
> in rural areas. This should be a matter for satisfaction, not
> lament.
> Should we be concerned that so many students are not
> native-born? Many, such as Phillip Griffiths of the Institute
> for Advanced Study at Princeton have been quoted as worrying
> about the preponderance of foreigners in graduate science and
> engineering programs. This concern is misplaced. Foreign
> graduate students typically stay on in this country.
> Indeed, the
> possibility of eventual immigration is often the reason why
> entering our graduate programs and working hard to acquire the
> education necessary for America's highly competitive labor
> market is attractive to talented foreigners in the first place.
> Recent estimates suggest that nearly three-quarters of those
> trained in America remain in America. The final figure may be
> even higher, for some returnees (like the first author)
> initially go home only to return later to a rewarding
> professional life in the United States when circumstances
> permit. This in-migration of brainpower is a great
> bonus to our
> country. Consider that fully 50 percent of the assistant
> professors hired in engineering in the U.S. in 1992 were
> foreign-born. Yet even if it is clear that the arrival of
> foreign science and engineering students is a boon to
> the United
> States as a whole, one might worry that particular
> sub-groups of
> the population could be hurt by the competition. Some black
> educators have made the specific argument that foreign
> students
> in Ph.D. programs are crowding out blacks. An example would be
> Frank Morris writing in the Urban League Review in l993. Since
> total black Ph.D.s have tapered off while those awarded to
> foreign students have shot up, advocates seek restraints on
> foreign acceptances.
> The facts on black higher education, particularly in the
> sciences, are indeed disappointing. The remedy of excluding
> foreign applicants, however, is unwarranted. For one
> thing, the
> number of native-born Americans in S&E Ph.D. programs has not
> declined. As increasing numbers of foreign students have
> arrived, native enrollments have held constant over
> the last 30
> years at around 13,000 annually.
> As for financial "crowding out," it is true that 60 percent of
> all foreign graduate students in the U.S. are aided
> financially
> by their university, much higher than the 25 percent of black
> graduate students so helped. But the reason for this
> differential is the very different fields of study chosen, on
> average, by the two groups. Fully 81 percent of
> foreign graduate
> students are in science and engineering programs- where almost
> all students are wholly supported by their university (mainly
> through assistantships in funded research projects). On the
> other hand, black graduate students are overwhelmingly
> enrolled
> in the field of education and in humanities programs
> where there
> is much less aid. Eliminate the field of study difference and
> blacks do immensely better. Over 70 percent of the black
> graduate students in the physical sciences, for instance,
> receive substantial aid from their universities.
> A final reason for caution is that the number of blacks within
> science and engineering graduate programs has actually
> increased
> in the last two decades, both in total and as a
> fraction of all
> black Ph.D.s. The main problem facing blacks in the field of
> science and engineering today is the small and
> shrinking pool of
> the blacks with bachelors degrees in science. The number of
> blacks securing bachelors in science and engineering fell from
> 18,700 in 1975 to 18,400 in 1990, even as the total number of
> these degrees awarded was on the increase. The gnawing problem
> of too few blacks in scientific graduate programs has
> causes and
> solutions quite unrelated to the arrival of foreign students.
> The intelligent and highly motivated foreign students who come
> to this country for scientific education and then "stay on" in
> large numbers assimilate readily, becoming indistinguishable
> from native- born Americans, who are themselves ethnically
> diverse. The scientific eminence of the United States thus
> reflects a virtuous circle: the best and the brightest from
> around the world are attracted to our universities,
> and they in
> turn help make our universities world class.
> This heavy influx of talent is a sign of our strength,
> not of a
> problem or weakness. To dam the scientific inflow instead of
> removing the debris that clogs the streams would be folly.
> By Jagdish Bhagwati and Milind Rao. Jagdish Bhagwati is a
> visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and
> Arthur Lehman professor of economics at Columbia University.
> Miland Rao is associate professor of economics at Colgate
> University. Bhagvati, Milind, The false alarm of `too many
> scientists'.., Vol. 7, American Enterprise, 01-01-1996, pp 71.

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