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Is Harvard Racist Towards Asians?



Starting back in the 1970s, officials at America’s more selective colleges and universities began using racial preferences to increase the percentages of certain minority group students on campus. Preferences for certain groups, however, also means preferences against others.

Early in the last century, some of the top universities had a quota for Jewish students. Harvard, for example, capped their number because officials didn’t want to risk upsetting Boston traditionalists who might be disturbed to see Harvard become “too Jewish.” It didn’t matter that many of the Jewish students were academically superior to other applicants — officials just didn’t want to have too many.

These days, the un-preferred group is students of Asian ancestry. Rather than merely accepting that as their sacrifice for good educational policy, many Asian-Americans (how distressing is the imperative of putting individuals into hyphenated groups!) are now battling against the double standards that make it much harder for them to gain admission into the nation’s most prestigious schools.

A recent Wall Street Journal piece, Harvard’s Chinese Exclusion Act by Kate Bachelder, was based on an interview she did with Chinese immigrant and successful Florida businessman Yukong Zhao. Mr. Zhao argues that Harvard and other top universities hold Asian students to significantly higher standards to keep them from growing as a percentage of student bodies.

The old “too Jewish” fear has been replaced by a new one — becoming “too Asian.”

Mr. Zhao is among the people advocating that the Education Department investigate  Harvard’s admission policies. Under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, educational institutions that receive any federal money are obligated to treat individuals equally, regardless of race or other immutable characteristics. You can read the complaint filed by Students for Fair Admissions here.

Can a university be in compliance with the law when “an Asian-American student must earn an SAT scores 140 points higher than a white student, 270 points higher than a Hispanic and 450 points higher than an African-American” to have an equal chance at admission? Zhao and quite a few legal scholars think not.

He maintains that this is a civil rights issue and adds, “College is not a theater.” Students shouldn’t be chosen because they have the right ancestry to play parts in a play. They should be chosen on the basis of their desire and ability to learn.

Even though the percentage of Asians in the population has been growing, the percentage admitted to Harvard has remained almost unchanged for many years. That strongly suggests a quota policy, which hardly seems to comport with the law.

It’s very revealing that at another of America’s elite universities, Cal Tech, the percentage of Asian students has steadily risen, from 26 percent in 1993 to 42.5 percent today. Cal Tech is notable for not playing the “diversity” game with admissions and admitting students just based on their evident academic strength, not on their race or ethnicity.

I wish Students for Fair Admissions success in their legal efforts. However, Harvard can spend vast amounts in fighting the suit, which will eventually come up against the well-entrenched beliefs in the bureaucracy and judiciary that universities ought to be allowed to use “holistic” (read: subjective) admissions policies so as to craft a student body that is optimally “diverse.”

Defeating racial preferences in court is very iffy, as we’ve seen with the Fisher case.

Therefore, I think that they, Zhao, and all others who want to stop the discrimination against Asian students should also argue that Harvard and other top universities ought to stop doing so for educational reasons. Even if they are stymied in the legal system, they might succeed in pressuring those universities into dropping a practice they adopted without thinking through its adverse consequences.

The plain truth about racial preferences is that they mean turning away some of your strongest applicants and replacing them with students who are academically weaker. Doing that makes administrators feel good, but it downgrades the school.

I first heard that argument when I read Thomas Sowell’s 1993 book Inside American Education: The Decline, The Deception, The Dogmas. He attacked the notion, as prevalent then as now, that by using “holistic” evaluations, admissions officers can assemble a superior student body — one more “rich and interesting” than if the school just admitted students based on their academic qualities. Sowell wrote:

What will look ‘rich and interesting’ to superficial people can of course differ greatly from what scholars who are masters of their respective intellectual disciplines will find to be students able to plumb the depths of what they have to offer. Dull-looking nerds can revolutionize the intellectual landscape and produce marvels of science, even if their life stories would never make a good movie or television mini-series.

That is exactly the case regarding many of America’s highly driven students of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, and other backgrounds. They are rejected at top institutions like Harvard that think they already have “enough” of them. But if they matriculated, they would not only advance most rapidly, but probably also bring more fame to the school.

In that regard, Zhao cites a Kauffman Foundation study finding that between 2006 and 2012, 42 percent of all technology startups were begun by Asian-American entrepreneurs.

You might think that trustees and alumni would demand to know why their school leaders persist in the dubious diversity mania instead of trying to recruit the best students. They should not just meekly sit by and allow racial preferences to impede their schools from excelling. How about an alumni petition to the president of Harvard saying, “Why can’t we be more like Cal Tech?”

Although it is repeatedly asserted, there is no reason to believe that admitting quotas of students from “underrepresented” groups actually does anything to improve the learning climate on campus.

On the contrary, it can degrade the learning climate when administrators feel compelled to make allowances for weaker students. That is the case at the University of Wisconsin, where administrators want faculty members in certain introductory courses to ensure that grades are distributed “equitably.” (Professor Lee Hansen has written about that for the Pope Center here.)

I am delighted to see that Asian-Americans (that awful hyphen again) are speaking out against racial preferences. That stands to reason, since their children are the big losers in the racial preferences game.

But they should be joined by non-Asians who understand that the purpose of college is for students to maximize their learning, not for administrators to play at social engineering.

This post first appeared at the Pope Center. and was written by George C. Leef. See more.


Lessons Learnt from The Lean Startup



The Lean Startup book authored by Eric Ries has been sitting on my shelf for quite sometime now, so since I am currently contributing to the making of a startup I figured I’ll take a look into it.

The book is divided into 3 parts, after reading the first two I had my mind blown with the pragmatic and scientific approach to building startups that is described in the book.

In this post, I would like to share some important insights that I gained regarding building highly innovative businesses.

Validating Value Proposition And Growth Strategy Is The Priority

Usually, a highly innovative startup company is working in its most early stage at building a product or a service that will create a new market.

Consumers or businesses have not been yet exposed to something similar to what is going to be built by the startup. Therefore the absolute priority for startups in early stage is to validated their value proposition i.e. to get real data about eventual customers interest regarding their product/service.

The other priority is to validate that the growth strategy that is going to be executed is, in fact, effective.

The growth strategy of a startup is its plan to acquire more and more customers in the long term and in a sustainable fashion.

Three kinds of growth strategies are described in the book:

  • paid growth in which you rely on the fact that the customers are going to be charged for the product or service, the cash earned from early users is reinvested in acquiring new users via advertising for example
  • viral growth in which you rely on the fact that customers are going to bring customers as a side effect of using the product/service
  • sticky growth in which you rely on the fact that the customers are going to use the service in some regular fashion, paying for the service each time (via subscription for example).

These growth strategies are sustainable in the sense that they do not require continuous large capital investments or publicity stunts.

It is important to know as soon as possible which strategy or combination of strategies is the most effective at driving growth.

Applying The Scientific Method

The scientific method is a set of techniques that helps us figure out correct stuff. After making some observations regarding a phenomenon, you formulate a hypothesis about that phenomenon.

The hypothesis is an assumption that needs to be proven correct or incorrect. You then design experimentations that are going to challenge the assumption.

The results of the experimentations makes the correctness or incorrectness of the hypothesisclear allowing us to make judgments about its validity.

In the lean startup methodology, your job as an entrepreneur is to formulate two hypothesis:

  • hypothesis of value (assumptions about your value proposition)
  • hypothesis of growth (assumptions about the effectiveness of the growth strategy)

These hypothesis are then validated/invalidated through experimentation. Following the precepts of lean manufacturing, the lean startup methodology prescribes to make experimentations while minimizing/eliminating waste.

In other words, you have to burn minimum cash, effort and time when running experiments.

An experimentation in the lean startup sense is usually an actual product/service and helps startups in early stage learn invaluable things about their eventual future market.

Sometimes startups learn that nobody wants their product/service, imagine spending 8 months worth of engineering, design and promotion work (not to mention cash) in a product/service only to discover that it does not provide value to anyone.

Minimum Viable Products And Feedback

As we pointed out earlier, an experimentation can be an actual product or service and is called the minimum viable product(MVP).

The MVP is built to contain just enough features to validate the value and growth hypotheses, effectively requiring minimum time, effort and cash.

By getting the MVP launched and in front of real users, entrepreneurs can get concrete feedback from them either directly by asking them (in focus groups for example) or via usage analytics.

Analytics scales better then directly talking to customers but the latter is nonetheless used to cross validate results from the former.

It is crucial to focus on metrics that creates fine grained visibility about the performance of the business when building(or using) a usage analytics system. These metrics are called actionable metrics because they can link causes and effects clearly allowing entrepreneurs to understand the consequences of ideally each action executed. Cohort analysis is an example of a analytics strategy that focuses on actionable metrics.

The bad kind of metrics are called vanity metrics, these tend to hide how the business is performing, gross numbers like total users count are an example of vanity metrics.

The author cites several examples of different startups that managed to validate or debunk their early assumption by building stripped down and non scalable MVPs and even sometimes by not building software at all.

You would be surprised to hear for example how the Dropbox folks in their early stage managed to created a ~4 minute video demonstrating their product while it was still in development. The video allowed them to get more people signed up in their beta waiting list and raise capital more easily.

Closing Thoughts

In the first two parts of the book, the author talks also about how employees inside big companies working on highly innovative products and services can benefit greatly from the lean startup approach, although very interesting this is not very useful for me right now.

The third part, talks about the challenges that arises when the startup gets big and starts to stabilize and how to address them. Basically it revolves around not loosing the innovative spirit of the early days, again, this is not very useful for me so maybe for good future reading.


About the Author

This article was produced by Tech Dominator. see more.

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Women on Top in Tech – Dr. Sanna Gaspard, Founder and CEO of Rubitection



(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Dr. Sanna Gaspard is the Founder and CEO of Rubitection, a medical device start-up developing a diagnostic tool for early stage pressure detection, assessment, and management. She is an Entrepreneur, inventor, and biomedical engineer with a passion for innovation, entrepreneurship, healthcare and medical devices. She has received recognition and awards including being selected as a finalist for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards(’13), a semi-finalist for the Big C competition (’14), a finalist for the Mass Challenge Business accelerator in Boston, and taking 1st place at the 3 Rivers Investment Venture Fair’s Technology showcase (‘11). Her vision is to make the Rubitect Assessment System the global standard solution for early bedsore detection and management.

What makes you do what you do? 
I am driven to have impact and improve healthcare as I have a strong drive to problem solve, comes up with new ideas, and see them come to life.

How did you rise in the industry you are in? 
I first focused on getting the educational background and then I pursued the goals I have for myself. I got my PhD in Biomedical Engineering with a specialization in medical device development. Having the educational background is important as a woman and minority to assist people in taking your seriously.  After completing my PhD, I focused on bringing my invention for a medical device for early bedsore detection and prevention called the Rubitect Assessment System to market to help save lives and improve care.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
I started my startup, Rubitection , because I felt it was the best way to bring the technology to market. I knew that if I did not try to commercialize the technology, it would not make it to the doctors and nurses. I also have confidence that I could manage developing the technology since I had taken classes on entrepreneurship and had my PhD in biomedical engineering with a specialization in medical devices.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work? How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him/her?
No, I don’t have a specific mentor in my field. I am looking for one at the moment. However, I do look up to Steve Jobs and Oprah as examples of how one can start with nothing and work their way up and build a successful, global, and reputable business and brand.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?  
I first try to find people who have fundamental technical or work experience to be competent to complete the work. I then evaluate the person for intangible skills like independent thinking, reliability, leadership, resilience, organizational skills, strong work ethic, open mindedness/flexibility, and good communication skills.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why? 
I consciously make an effort as a minority woman in tech, I intimately understand the need to promote diversity within my business and outside my business. I first hire the best people for the job and also make a point to hire women and minorities qualified for the position.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?  
It takes resilience, vision, being a team player, an ability to inspire others and delegate work, knowing your weakness, and knowing when to put your business or yourself first.

Advice for others?
My advice to others is to take calculated risks, pursue every opportunity, surround yourself with supporters, build your team with smart dedicated people, and stay focused on your vision. I am striving to implement this advice myself as I work towards commercializing my technology for early bedsore detection, grow my team, and recruit clinical partners to address an $11 billion US healthcare problem which affects millions around the world.

If anyone is interested in learning more about our work or company, please contact us at [email protected].

To learn more about Dr. Sanna Gaspard, CEO of Rubitection visit:

If you’d like to get in touch with Dr. Sanna Gaspard, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn:

To learn more about Rubitection, please click here.

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