Iowa State University

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

Periodically checking Facebook while doing homework negatively affects college students’ grades, but using the website also helps to build and maintain relationships, according to a recent Iowa State University study.

Reynol Junco, education associate professor at Iowa State University, conducted a survey of 1,649 college students and found that Facebook use, especially when trying to study, negatively impacts the majority of students’ GPAs.  

“Other research [had] looked at multitasking — how students use Facebook for class and while they’re studying — and found negative relations,” Junco said. “There was a separate study where I found that using Facebook helps students build and maintain relationships, which is still very important.”

Junco categorized Facebook use into two categories: “multitasking time,” when students use Facebook while attempting to study, and “regular time.” Junco said Facebook use while multitasking contributed to lower grades for all students participating in the study, except seniors. Regular Facebook use, though, only affected freshman’s grades.

Junco said the negative effect of Facebook use on freshmen’s grades is offset by the gains in interpersonal relationships. 

“Freshmen need to use Facebook to maintain their previous group of friends, and they’re also building and maintaining new relationships, which is essential for them to be successful,” Junco said.

Psychology junior Yann Garcia said she thinks her personal use of Facebook does not affect her grades.

“I use Facebook like no other, and my GPA is fine compared to others who use it less but are bad studiers or [have] harder majors,” Garcia said.

Psychology senior Alyssa Salinas said she also thinks Facebook is not a factor in her GPA.

“I use Facebook mainly to keep up with spirit organizations’ events and details,” Salinas said. “I don’t think it affects my grades because I don’t really spend countless hours on it — unlike Netflix.”

Junco said he thinks Facebook is a helpful tool for showcasing users’ individual personalities.

“Many people think about how Facebook is bad,” Junco said. “It’s not about Facebook causing lower grades. It’s self-regulation skills that impact how students use Facebook, and that affects GPA.”

Sociology assistant professor Tatyana Pudrovska recently co-authored a study on women’s mental health in the workplace.

Photo Credit: Claire Schaper | Daily Texan Staff

While the number of women in top managerial positions has increased in the last 30 years, women with leadership roles suffer more from depression and stress than their male counterparts, according to a recent UT study.

The study, co-authored by sociology assistant professor Tatyana Pudrovska and Amelia Karraker, an assistant professor at Iowa State University, compared women’s experiences in managerial positions to their male counterparts’ experiences for 11 years. The study focused on more than 1,500 women and more than 1,300 men who had the authority to hire and fire employees and determine their salary and work activities.

According to the study, women and men without a leadership position in the workplace faced similar incidents of depression symptoms such as “feeling sad, feeling depressed, thinking one’s life has been a failure, and feeling that people were unfriendly.”

Differences in mental health were only noticeable among women and men in top managerial positions, Pudrovska said in an email.

“Our most interesting finding is that job authority decreases men’s depression but increases women’s depression,” Pudrovska said. “More specifically, women with the authority to hire, fire and influence pay have significantly higher depression than women without job authority. In contrast, men with job authority have lower depression than men without job authority.”

Pudrovska said this disparity in mental health could be attributed to various challenges women face in the workplace when exhibiting leadership skills, such as negative social interactions, negative stereotypes and resistance from subordinates, colleagues and superiors.

“Higher-status women are evaluated more stringently compared to male coworkers and are often exposed to overt and subtle gender discrimination and harassment,” Pudrovska said. “This contributes to chronic stress that can undermine or even reverse the health benefits of job authority.” 

While past studies have examined the wage gap between women and men in managerial positions, few researchers have looked at the psychological differences among women and men in these positions, Pudrovska said.

“Focusing on how women fare in positions of authority — on their well-being in positions of authority — is crucial and timely because women leaders are key players in changing the landscape of organizations and the work context for other women,” Pudrovska said. “It is important not only to increase women’s access to leadership positions but also to make sure that women stay there. Retention should also be a priority.”

David Ochsner, College of Liberal Arts spokesman, said he had seen more departments across colleges cover gender equity issues at the University. He said recently various sociology professors had covered the topic, garnering positive national attention.

“When they do these kind of studies, they’re noticed and they’re talked about nationally,” Ochsner said.

The University of Texas pit crew prepares a student-built solar car for a closed-course race in Summer 2013. This year, 10 university teams from across the world will compete in a cross-country race from Austin to Saint Paul, Minnesota. The race, hosted by the Cockrell School of Engineering, departed from Winship Circle on campus on Monday Morning. 

Photo Credit: Emily Ng | Daily Texan Staff

Student-engineered solar cars began a cross-country race from Austin to Saint Paul, Minnesota, in an event hosted by the University’s Cockrell School of Engineering on Monday.

Ten teams from universities including UT, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Iowa State University as well as a handful of international universities are participating in the American Solar Challenge, a competition to design, build and drive solar cars.

Teams departed from Winship Circle on campus Monday morning, after qualifying in the Formula Sun Grand Prix, a closed-course race held at the Circuit of the Americas track on July 14-19.

Event coordinator Gail Lueck said teams were given a day to rejuvenate before tackling the challenges of a road course competition, which is only held every two years.

“You’re transitioning from a track event where you know all your pit crew and your materials are sitting in a garage and transitioning to where you’re going to be on the road.” Lueck said. “So, you need the right equipment packed into your vehicles.”

Lueck, who is also a member of the board of directors for the nonprofit organization Innovator’s Educational Foundation that organizes the race, said coordinators of the event pride themselves on offering a hands-on learning experience.

"This is not a textbook problem, you don’t go look up in the back, here’s the answer on how to design, build and drive a solar car," Lueck said.

Teams not only deal with the challenge of engineering a vehicle, but also with the logistical challenges of fundraising, managing a budget and creating a business plan.

"There’s a lot of stuff you learn having to build something and making it work under time and budget pressure that’s kind of hard to learn from a book," said Fred Engelkemeir, a graduate electrical engineering student who has been a member of the University's TexSun team for nine years.

Lueck said the teams from universities in other countries have the additional challenge of getting their vehicle to the U.S. 

"The international teams have to deal with their own international logistics of how to get over to the U.S. and clear customs with essentially an experimental vehicle." Lueck said.

The race aims to increase visibility and engagement of STEM students in the U.S., by offering a multidiscipline, hands-on project.

Katie Baker, a junior at Austin’s Anderson High School and member of the University of Texas TexSun team, said she enjoyed the learning experience and wants to study engineering at the University after she graduates.

“I got to actually put epoxy on the wheel covers and sand it down.” Baker said. “The team has been so welcoming and I would love to do this as a student. It’s so much fun.”