“The Case of the Two-Faced Data” by Rachel L. Rossetti

Introduction*Jane had always loved English. When she decided to apply to graduate school, she had an excellent undergraduaterecord and was an extremely strong candidate. Jane applied to the top Ph.D. programs in English. She was admittedto seven out of the eight schools to which she applied—every school except her first choice, Bronte University. Janewas not only heartbroken, she also truly didn’t understand how this could have happened. She was a perfect candidate.Her advisor and other professors were also completely baffled. With the support of her friends, family and educators,Jane decided to do a little research into what went wrong.Question

How does this story relate to the article you read, “Study shows gender bias in science is real” (Yurkiewicz, 2012)?*The data used throughout this case study is real and can be found in Bickel et al. (1975), but the identities and actions of those involved havebeen fictionalized.NATIONAL CENTER FOR CASE STUDY TEACHING IN SCIENCE“The Case of the Two-Faced Data” by Rachel L. Rossetti Page 2Part I – A Strongly Worded LetterBob Loblaw, Attorney at Law1 Lawyer DriveMathematicstown, PI 31415Bronte University Graduate Admissions Office100 Thrushcross Grange Dr.Wuthering Heights, WH 121847To Whom It May Concern:My office is representing Ms. Jane Eyre. The purpose of this letter is to informyou that Ms. Eyre will be moving forward with a discrimination lawsuitagainst Bronte University.Ms. Eyre recently applied for admission to the Ph.D. program in English,and she possessed all the necessary qualifications. Unfortunately, she was notadmitted due to unlawful discrimination.As is well known, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 “prohibitsdiscrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receivefederal financial assistance.” Bronte University has a history of discriminationin the admissions process. For example, the table below breaks down the percent of women vs. men that were granted admission to your Ph.D. programs.Bronte University graduate admissions data.Applied Accepted PercentWomen 449 113 25%Men 1097 527 48%The numbers speak for themselves. Bronte University admitted 48% of themales who applied and only admitted 25% of the female applicants. The evidence of discrimination is overwhelming, and Ms. Eyre is no exception. Thus,we will be seeking an overturned admissions decision, as well as a monetarysettlement to cover emotional damages.Sincerely,Bob LoblawBob LoblawAttorney at LawQuestionsCalculate the following.a. How many women were not granted admission?b. What percentage of women were not granted admission?Calculate the following.a. How many men were not granted admission?b. What percentage of men were not granted admission?Do you think gender discrimination played a role in Jane Eyre’s admission decision? Explain.NATIONAL CENTER FOR CASE STUDY TEACHING IN SCIENCE“The Case of the Two-Faced Data” by Rachel L. Rossetti Page 3Bronte University Graduate Admissions Office100 Thrushcross Grange Dr.Wuthering Heights, WH 121847Bob Loblaw, Attorney at Law1 Lawyer DriveMathematicstown, PI 31415Dear Bob Loblaw:Bronte University holds our applicants to the highest academic standards. Thus,we have a rigorous application process. We received an extremely high volume ofapplications this year, and many qualified candidates were not offered admission.We are sympathetic to Ms. Eyre’s situation, but we did not discriminate against her.The Bronte University Graduate program believes deeply in the importance of TitleIX, and we do everything in our power to cultivate equality in all our programs.I did some searching in our records, and I found the data that you’re citing in yourletter. You have combined two different departments and quoted total admissionpercentages. Below is a table that displays the same data broken down into twospecific departments at Bronte.Bronte University graduate admissions data broken down by department.Applied Accepted PercentDepartment AWomen 108 89 82%Men 825 511 62%Department BWomen 341 24 7%Men 272 16 6%These data suggest that Bronte University actually favors female applicants, becausein reality both departments admitted a higher percentage of women than men. Inlight of this information, we urge Ms. Eyre to drop her lawsuit against the university.Sincerely,Catherine EarnshawCatherine EarnshawAdmissions OfficerBronte UniversityPart II – A Reasonable ReplyNATIONAL CENTER FOR CASE STUDY TEACHING IN SCIENCE“The Case of the Two-Faced Data” by Rachel L. Rossetti Page 4QuestionsUse the data in Catherine Earnshaw’s letter to answer the following questions.a. How many total women applied?b. How many total women were accepted?c. What percentage of women who applied were accepted?e. How many total men applied?f. How many total men were accepted?g. What percentage of men who applied were accepted?h. Does this match the table in Bob Loblaw’s letter?Definition: A paradox is a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true.*Consider the data presented in the two letters, and explain the paradox illustrated by the Bronte Universitygraduate admissions data.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/paradox. Accessed September 2014.NATIONAL CENTER FOR CASE STUDY TEACHING IN SCIENCE“The Case of the Two-Faced Data” by Rachel L. Rossetti Page 5Part III – It Seems Impossible!In an effort to come up with an explanation for this situation, let’s take a closer look at the data in CatherineEarnshaw’s letter.Questions

Calculate the following.a. How many people (both men and women) applied to Department A?b. How many people (both men and women) were accepted by Department A?c. What is the total percentage of applicants that were accepted by Department A?d. How many people (both men and women) applied to Department B?e. How many people (both men and women) were accepted by Department B?f. What is the total percentage of applicants that were accepted by Department B?In general, the following three trends are observed among graduate school applications and admissions:• More women apply to Ph.D. programs in the humanities than in engineering.• Ph.D. programs in engineering receive more applications from men than women.• Engineering programs have more grant money and are able to admit more students than programs in thehumanities.Assume that of the two departments, A and B, one is a department in the humanities and the other is anengineering department. Based on the data in Catherine Earnshaw’s letter, can you guess which is which?Explain.
“The Case of the Two-Faced Data” by Rachel L. Rossetti

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