STEM prof offers to boost female students' grades

A University of Akron professor sent an email Monday openly acknowledging that female students “may see their grades raised” to encourage them to study information sciences.

On Monday, a Reddit user leaked a screenshot of an email sent by Akron professor Liping Liu informing students their final grades may be raised a “level or two” if they are female as part of a “national movement to encourage female students to go to information sciences.”

[RELATED: Oberlin students say bad grades are getting in the way of activism]

While the initial screenshot was removed by a Reddit admin due to the listed email addresses of recipients, a copy of the email with relevant redactions was provided to Campus Reform by a student in the class.

“I truly think that my professor’s efforts are counter intuitive,” the student, who wishes to remain anonymous, told Campus Reform. “There is no need to persuade women to enter a field they are uninterested in just so we can meet a quota to be able to say that men and women are equally represented in Information Science.”

Liu, in an email to The College Fix, claimed that his classes on average have “one or two female students” in a class of 20 to 30. According to Liu, the women are “not doing well” and would likely need to “repeat the courses or leave the program” without the boosted grades.

Liu referred to the grade alterations as part of an “experiment” to understand how to better motivate female students, adding that he’s abandoning the concept “for now.”

University Provost Rex Ramsier, in an email to The Fix, said that the university “does not discriminate on the basis of sex,” and verified that grades were not adjusted based on gender.

“While the professor’s stated intention of encouraging female students to go into the information sciences field may be laudable, his approach as described in his email was clearly unacceptable,” Ramsier said.

[RELATED: TA tweets about giving white students ‘a runnnnn for their grade’]

Liu is hardly the only professor to attempt some form of affirmative action grading policy, however.

In April, for instance, a graduate student working as a teaching assistant at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology tweeted about “giving these white students a runnnnn for their grade” while grading papers for unnamed “mentors.” 

Additionally, Campus Reform reported last year that a University of Georgia professor allowed students to self grade as part of a “stress reduction policy” listed on the syllabus of two of his courses, and in 2016, a professor at the University of Central Florida was fired after he told students that a $100 dollar donation to a charity would guarantee a 100 percent grade on the final five-page paper, according to The Orlando Sentinel

As far back as 2015, in fact, an associate professor at Cornell University called for female professors’ course evaluations to be inflated to account for students’ “pervasively slanted” gender bias.

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