It's real, proposes San Diego law professor Gail Heriot. To increase the proportion of protected class individuals in technical majors, lower admission standards translate into disproportionately higher attrition rates. "Decades ago, well-meaning administrators at selective college and universities resolved to “do the right thing” by extending preferential treatment to under-represented minorities in admissions. One of the consequences of that policy has been systematically low college grades for most of the supposed beneficiaries of that preferential treatment"
Now, you can correct for that by assigning grades preferentially, and a professor of information sciences at the University of Akron did just that, awarding female students a grade bump, which Kat Timpf flagged as yet another way to put an affirmative action asterisk on a transcript. "If employers knew that women routinely got higher grades just because they were women, they might start to assume that any woman with a STEM degree may not have actually deserved that degree."
Truth to tell, I'm surprised this Akron professor did this, let alone announced it publicly. I spent a few minutes looking for a grade appeal policy somewhere on the Akron website, and found zip. I bet, though, that such a policy exists, in order for students to obtain recourse against arbitrary and capricious grading (the Northern Illinois terminology) or being judged by a standard different from that applied to other students in the course (that's also Northern Illinois terminology.) The grade bump is arbitrary (applicable only to women) and capricious (does a woman who aces the course get a bump?) and any male student, or any female student who aces the course, can claim to have been judged by a different standard.
Now that the policy is public, does that make Akron more competitive or less competitive in placing graduates?