# Asians 17% more likely to make Dean’s Honors List at UW Math

Are east asians good at math? Common sense says so, but let’s see if the data backs it up.

First, we scrape Learn for a list of all undergraduate math students.

All UW math students are automatically enrolled in this course, and you can get a list of all 7755 students and their emails here. The interface only shows you 200 students at a time, so I wrote a scraper to automatically go through 39 pages of students.

How to determine which students are east asian? For this analysis, I consider east asian to be people of Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese surnames. Here’s the 100 most common last names in UW math:

307 Wang

279 Li

244 Zhang

231 Chen

203 Liu

111 Yang

111 Wu

93 Xu

91 Huang

84 Zhou

78 Zhu

76 Lee

74 Zhao

73 Lin

62 Yu

61 Sun

56 Lu

48 Hu

47 Gao

45 Guo

44 Ma

44 Kim

43 Zheng

43 Luo

43 Jiang

41 Chan

39 Tang

39 Shi

39 He

34 Yuan

34 Jin

32 Pan

31 Song

30 Cheng

28 Zeng

28 Yan

27 Liang

26 Park

26 Cai

25 Ye

25 Xiao

25 Wong

24 Xie

24 Shen

24 Lai

24 Gu

24 Feng

24 Cao

23 Ng

22 Tan

22 Han

22 Deng

21 Ren

21 Qin

20 Nguyen

19 Zhong

18 Yao

18 Patel

18 Fu

17 Wei

17 Qiu

17 Leung

17 Lam

17 Dong

16 Xue

16 Tian

16 Khan

16 Ji

16 Du

16 Dai

16 Cui

16 Choi

15 Smith

15 Cho

14 Wen

14 Tran

14 Tao

14 Su

14 Meng

13 Zou

13 Singh

13 Peng

13 Ding

12 Yin

12 Ni

12 Kang

12 Jia

12 Guan

12 Fan

12 Chow

12 Chang

11 Yeung

11 Hong

11 Ho

10 Xing

10 Xia

10 Weng

10 Wan

10 Tsang

10 Shan

Most of these names are asian, with the first non-asian names being “Patel” with 18 occurrences, “Smith” with 15, and “Singh” with 13. For this analysis, I considered a student to be asian if their last name has ≥ 20 occurrences (so from Wang -> Nguyen).

This underestimates the number of asians, but it’s close enough for our purposes. Since we’re comparing the honor roll rate between two groups, the split doesn’t have to be exact. We split the population into 3415 asians and 4340 non-asians.

Next, I scrape the list of students on the UW Math Dean’s Honors List. Each term, all students with term average above 87% qualify for Term Dean’s Honors List, and their names are available on the web page.

For a sampling of students on the honor roll, I concatenated the list of all students on the honors list for the most recent 3 terms: Winter 2016, Fall 2015, and Spring 2015. This gives 1459 students (non-unique).

Of these 1459 students, 699 are asian (as defined above) and 760 are non-asian.

With this data, we can tabulate the ratio of honor roll counts to total math undergraduate counts for asians and non-asians:

Note: the ratio is NOT the proportion of asians that make the honors list — it is not the case that 19% of students every term enter the honors list. We don’t know how many students are in school each term (vs on co-op). However, as long as the proportion of students on co-op is the same for asians and non-asians, this ratio still reflects the difference in honor roll rates for the two groups.

From the ratios 0.205 for asians and 0.175 for non-asians, we see that **asians are 17% more likely to make the honors list**.

Is this statistically significant? Using R, I performed Fisher’s test of significance, which yields a p-value of 0.0064. So yes, the result is significant.