Monday, March 18, 2013

Why I Left the IEEE

The IEEE is the professional organization which represents Electrical Engineers. In 1961 I believe I joined the IEEE and remained a member until 2005. At that point I was quite disappointed in the fact that publications had become group affairs and that worse the articles were just repeats of the same idea, but now promulgated by a group. Further the group was usually headed by some senior faculty member who sat on some IEEE committee.

Now in today's NY Times the representative of the IEEE testifies before Congress seeking gender equality in Visas for Electrical Engineers. It states:

Karen Panetta, the vice president for communications and public awareness for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in the United States of America, will testify that “the vast majority of H-1B workers are men,” according to her prepared remarks. 

Ms. Panetta’s testimony points to “a serious gender imbalance in science, technology, engineering and math” as part of the reason that these H-1B visas in high-tech fields skew disproportionately toward men. But she also adds, “If a major immigration program effectively discriminated based on race or national origin, would that be O.K.?”

Let me provide some facts. At MIT the predominant number of Visa eligible students are men. Did MIT discriminate? Hardly! They were the best ones who applied.

Is there a gender imbalance in Electrical Engineering? Perhaps that is the wrong question. You see EE is hard. Yes really hard, and it is competitive, really competitive. So you get out what people put in. We see many Asian students, especially at the PhD level. Of my last 8 Graduate students only one is left in the US, all were foreign students, and some of the best are now in our competitors, and only one was female. Those are facts. What the IEEE is complaining about seems utter nonsense. The problem is not issuing more Visas to men than women, in fact I would be willing to wager that percentage wise of graduates more women get Visas than men.

Let us examine the logic and consequence of her apparent suggestion, in my opinion.

First, if as I suspect, the males in EE represent well over 70% of PhDs and females 30% or less,

Then, if she demands parity in percents in terms of Visas,

One concludes that women will receive twice as many visas as men, and them men will be sent back from whence they came and produce value there and not here.

Engineering is not law or medical school, it still is male dominated. The choice or selection was made decades before graduation. Each and every one of those graduates should be induced to stay here and be creative, not the social engineering selective process of some person at some "professional" society which represents God knows what.

No wonder I left the IEEE! My dues paid for people like this one.