[FoRK] [LATimes] Two Caltech pieces: 37% female enrollment, sculpture

Rohit Khare <khare at alumni.caltech.edu> on Mon Aug 6 13:45:12 PDT 2007

Hmm... I wonder what the longer-term graphs look like, since it was  
almost a third when I was there over a decade ago -- and it was down  
to 28.5% last year! Was that an abberration, or a crisis? Was it a  
gap between offers and yield?

And the general population of college students is now 57% female ?!  
Boy, boys are falling out of favor -- I thought the differential was  
a few points, not 14! -- RK

> Caltech chemistry improves
> The Pasadena school sets a record for female enrollment in its  
> freshman classes in the traditionally male-dominated fields of  
> science, technology.
> By Larry Gordon
> Times Staff Writer
> August 6, 2007
> The relatively modest — but growing — number of women at Caltech  
> did not figure much in Hillary Walker's mind when she decided to  
> enroll this fall as a freshman at the prestigious science and  
> engineering campus in Pasadena.
> But the 18-year-old physics student from Alaska was delighted to  
> learn that she is part of a record-breaking uptick in the number of  
> females at a school lampooned in the past as a place where  
> extremely bright male scholars bonded more with microscopes than  
> with members of the opposite sex.
> "I think it's wonderful. I'm always happy to see more women in  
> science," said Walker, who chose Caltech over Princeton University  
> and MIT because of what she described as the school's intimate  
> size, research opportunities and friendly environment. Besides, she  
> said, having more women on campus "might liven up the social  
> atmosphere. The men will certainly welcome it."
> According to preliminary figures, 87 women are entering a freshman  
> class of 206 students in September. That 37% share is Caltech's  
> highest since it began admitting undergraduate women in 1970, when  
> pioneering females comprised 14% of the entering class. (Female  
> doctoral candidates first arrived in the 1950s.)
> Six years ago, women made up about 36% of freshmen, but that  
> dropped to as low as 28.5% last year.
> The new rise may not seem very dramatic to the outside world.  
> Caltech still lags the 46.1% female enrollment expected in this  
> fall's freshman class at its East Coast rival, MIT, which offers a  
> broader range of majors, and the 42.6% expected at Harvey Mudd  
> College, the science-and-math-focused school in Claremont.
> And all those schools still lag the current 57% female enrollment  
> total at colleges nationwide.
> Still, the increase at Caltech — a small and intellectually elite  
> campus where the middle range of SAT scores is in the top 1% or 2%  
> nationally — is significant. It represents progress in getting more  
> women into the highest levels of technology and science training,  
> officials said.
> "The more women we have on this campus, the better it is for  
> everybody," said Erica O'Neal, Caltech's assistant vice president  
> for student affairs. "It is better for women to not feel so  
> isolated. And it is better for the guys to learn how not to be  
> awkward with the opposite sex."
> Caltech students said they are not expecting a revolution in social  
> life or an end to the much-discussed practice of "glomming," in  
> which a posse of young men annoyingly seek the attention of one  
> woman. But, they add, it doesn't require an 800 on your math SAT to  
> realize that the improved ratio will boost men's chances for an on- 
> campus girlfriend.
> Michael Woods, a senior and chairman of the council that governs  
> campus residence halls, said he welcomes anything that makes "the  
> social environment at Caltech a little bit more like the rest of  
> the world."
> The old stereotype of Caltech students as romantically clueless  
> holds some truth, although that is changing, said Woods, 20, a  
> physics major from Torrance.
> "Most of the students who come to Caltech spent most of their high  
> school careers being nerds, and I myself am no exception," he said.  
> "But I hope that does not make us totally socially inept."
> The "emotional learning" in dorms and clubs, Woods said, "is a  
> vital aspect of college that isn't represented in tuition and  
> lecture halls."
> Incoming freshman Elizabeth Mak, a Pasadena resident who plans to  
> major in biology, said it is important to encourage more women to  
> enter the traditionally male-dominated fields of science and  
> technology.
> Mak, 18, noted that she followed the controversy that arose two  
> years ago when Lawrence Summers, then president of Harvard  
> University, said that innate differences between men and women  
> might be a reason why there was a dearth of female professors in  
> the sciences.
> Summers' comments sparked an immediate uproar and played a role in  
> his departure from Harvard last year. He was replaced by a woman.
> But whatever the biological differences are between males and  
> females, "opportunity and success should be equal for both sexes,"  
> Mak said.
> Although Caltech insists that it did not lower its notoriously  
> tough admission standards or practice affirmative action for women,  
> the school said it more actively and shrewdly recruited women this  
> year.
> Among other things, Caltech made its female applicants more aware  
> that, for example, they could be physics majors but also study  
> music and literature, said Rick Bischoff, director of undergraduate  
> admissions.
> "That's not to say men are not interested in those issues," but  
> those seem to resonate more with women, Bischoff said.
> According to the National Science Foundation, women outnumber men  
> in the full-time graduate-level study of many biological sciences,  
> but are woefully underrepresented by a 2-1 ratio in physical  
> science fields, such as chemistry and physics, and by a 3-1 ratio  
> in computer science.
> Caltech is not alone among science and engineering campuses in  
> grappling with gender imbalances. Harvey Mudd College, which also  
> attracts top-flight students, saw its percentage of freshman women  
> drop to about 25% last year from a recent average of about 33%. But  
> this year, the campus is proud of a rise to a record 42.6% of an  
> expected 197 freshmen.
> That increase was attributed in part to the actions of Harvey  
> Mudd's new president, Maria Klawe, the first woman in that post.  
> Among other steps, she sent handwritten letters to every woman who  
> had been accepted at Harvey Mudd, urging them to enroll there.
> "It didn't hurt at all that we have a woman president who cares  
> deeply about these issues," said Peter Osgood, Harvey Mudd's  
> admissions director.
> The anticipated female presence among MIT's 1,070 freshmen — 46% —  
> is close to what it has been for the last four years or so. MIT  
> does not have "quotas of any kind or policies that would mirror  
> such quotas, but we do try our best to enroll as diverse a class as  
> possible across the board," said Ben Jones, associate director of  
> admissions.
> At Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's engineering college, the percentage  
> of female freshmen is up slightly from 13.1% to 15.4%. The  
> percentage of female freshmen enrolled in its college of science  
> and mathematics is expected to remain at about 56% this fall, the  
> same as last year, said James Maraviglia, assistant vice president  
> for admissions and financial aid issues.
> Phoebe Leboy, president-elect of the Assn. for Women in Science,  
> said the presence of women in many science fields is rising. She  
> attributed the increase to improved K-12 education and to young men  
> being lured to more lucrative careers, such as Wall Street.
> Leboy has a mixed view of Caltech's recruitment of women.
> "I think they can do better," she said, "but one has to give them a  
> pat on the back for improving things."

> Caltech work not etched in stone
> Lloyd Hamrol's sculpture was razed to make way for chemistry building.
> By Lynne Heffley, Times Staff Writer
> July 23, 2007
> Public art leads an iffy existence — subject to weather, vandalism,  
> bureaucratic whimsy or a "public" that greets it with tear-it-down  
> hostility.
> The demolition of Los Angeles sculptor Lloyd Hamrol's "Moore's  
> Stone Volute," a fixture on the Caltech campus in Pasadena for 12  
> years, was deliberate … but carried out with Caltech's regrets.
> Hamrol's outdoor sculpture — sweeping curves of sloping stonework  
> measuring 6 feet by 48 feet by 55 feet, in a setting of green lawn  
> and trees — met the wrecking ball Saturday to make way for the  
> university's new Warren and Katharine Schlinger Laboratory for  
> Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, which will begin construction  
> later this year. Hamrol, a respected and prolific creator of art  
> for public spaces across the nation, was notified about the new  
> building "early in the planning process," said Hall Daily,  
> Caltech's assistant vice president for government and community  
> relations. "We brought him in quickly to find out how he felt about  
> it and if he felt we could relocate it."
> Hamrol determined that because of its method of construction, the  
> sculpture couldn't be moved without sacrificing its integrity. He  
> didn't consider re-creating it.
> "It's kind of like my dog died and I gotta go out and get a new one."
> The artist has made his peace with the sculpture's demise, he said,  
> despite an "emotional meltdown" during a last visit a few weeks  
> ago. "It certainly wakes one up to the fragile nature of things  
> that seem permanent in public spaces."
> Hamrol has agreed to do a new sculpture "a stone's throw" from the  
> original site, he said. To formulate his design, he'll work with  
> the landscape architect (as yet unnamed) and building architects,  
> Bohlin Cywinski Jackson of Pittsburgh.
> Other Hamrol works have been lost or altered, he said, because of  
> neglect or because "some well-intentioned person wants to re- 
> landscape, when the original landscape is integral to the piece."  
> The latter befell his "Rock Walls" installation at Washington's  
> Gallaudet University. Plantings that had been added were removed  
> after Hamrol pointed out that they effectively altered his work — a  
> breach of contract, he said. "You have to draw a line."
> Many artists have faced similar hazards. Martin Puryear's 45-foot- 
> tall open-framework sculpture, "That Profile," commissioned by the  
> Getty Trust, was installed on the Getty Center plaza where the  
> landscape vista was an essential part of the design. The  
> institution added an elevator tower to the space; the unhappy  
> artist was reportedly not consulted. (The Getty was unavailable for  
> comment.)
> Years of arguments for and against the removal of Richard Serra's  
> epic sculpture, "Tilting Arc," from downtown Manhattan's Federal  
> Plaza went to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1984. The pro-"Arc" side  
> lost.
> "Work in public spaces," Hamrol said, "doesn't come with the sense  
> of inviolacy that you see in museums or in private collections —  
> 'Don't go past this railing. Don't get too close.' But you have to  
> kind of take your lumps in this area because the work is about  
> being involved physically, kinesthetically, tactilely. In a certain  
> way, that diminishes it. It's no longer precious, it's in your  
> space — 'If we can walk on it, sit on it, why not plant flowers  
> around it?' So it's a slippery slope."
> Hamrol's willingness to create a new piece for Caltech is due in no  
> small part to the fact that his sculpture was treated with respect,  
> he said. "It was never vandalized. It looked as good three weeks  
> ago as it did 12 years ago when it was installed."

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