You can probably gather from an earlier post that I think of this sort of thing misses the point.
But I want to be positive for a change.
I have a modest proposal.
Most of the claims about racism and toxic environments are blissfully innocent of any data. It would not be expensive to accumulate some.
Every incoming student's records are already associated with their 1) age and 2) college board scores. Ask 3 questions during onboarding, that also go in their record:
- Sex: male, female, "whatever"
- Ethnicity: (include "prefer not to answer")
- First and second choices for major ("undecided" is OK)
Five years later, look up the all those students' records and determine
- Did the student graduate?
- If so, with what major?
Any such study has to preserve anonymity, so the only things included in the database for research are the 7 items.
A lot of students change majors, a number drop out, some get sick or even die. But even so, for a state university you'll start to get good statistics with the first or second cohort. In 10 years you might even have enough statistics about minority groups and about uncommon majors to begin to learn something useful, but even after 6 years (the second cohort) you'd have enough to start saying useful things about men and women in college.
After you learn the patterns ("18-year olds who want to do chemistry but have combined SAT less than 1150 generally don't complete the degree, but 35+ year olds do") you could, for the first time, actually use statistics to say whether some department is less friendly to women than others, or than the same department in another university. Right now we have subjective anecdotes. Sometimes those are revealing, and sometimes they are less than fully accurate.
Easy, cheap, high statistics--what's not to like? I know the diversity industry might fear it, but they aren't the only players in town.