When I was an undergraduate math student in the beginning of my senior year I scheduled a meeting with my department chair to talk about what I should be looking for when deciding. what PhD programs to apply to. His immediate response was that the most important thing for me to focus on over next few years was “finding a life partner” and that I should consider schools based on their proximity to a city with a lot of potential “life partners”.
I was uncomfortable with this line of conversation and brought it back to math. After disclosing my subject gre scores (poor) he said that given my scores and his estimations of my ability, I should consider a particular tiny unheard of program, adding “did you know you can get a PhD from there? I think there are two or three capable advisors.” Then he looked concerned for a moment and said actually I had better not apply to that program because it was rural and small and there would be “three Asian men to choose from.” (For he record I am white and so is he).
He eventually concluded that maybe “with a bit of luck” I could get in to a different larger, poorly ranked program. I happen to know that this is the same school he decided three other female undergrads who graduated around when I did should consider as their reach school. He went on to say that he felt undergrads in his program were not placing well in graduate school and lamented that a male student he advised the year prior did not get into any top five programs.
For the record, I’m at a top ten program in my field now (higher ranked than the program his male student is at) and all of the female students whom he advised similarly are also at much better programs than the “reach” he suggested. Also I know that at least one of these female students also got the “life partner” talk.