Male student pens letter to women in his engineering class, wins our hearts
Jared Mauldin, an engineering senior at Eastern Washington University is disturbed by the sexism he sees in his department. As Today reports, in his Calculus I class, he became friends/study partners with Holly Jeanneret, who, as Mauldin tells it, is Hermione Granger-level brilliant. That’s why it was so unsettling for Jared to see the other men in his class interrupt and talk over Holly, refuse to partner with her, and sometimes approach Jared and Holly together and only acknowledge Jared, as though Holly didn’t even exist.
Unfortunately, Jared continued to see this brand of sexism play out with the other women in his department and how they were treated by their male peers. And when he began teaching tech classes to elementary and middle schoolers, he saw a similar gender bias. There were girls excited to take Jared’s class, but they were reluctant to sign up. As their parents told Jared, this was because they were worried about how they would be treated in a predominantly male environment.
As unnerved as Jared was seeing this insidious sexism play out, he has also been overwhelmed with admiration for the women in his field, who have worked so hard to be accepted.
That’s why he decided to write a letter to the editor of his school paper, The Easterner, an open letter addressed to the women in his department:
To the women in my engineering classes:
While it is my intention in every other interaction I share with you to treat you as my peer, let me deviate from that to say that you and I are in fact unequal.
Sure, we are in the same school program, and you are quite possibly getting the same GPA as I, but does that make us equal?
I did not, for example, grow up in a world that discouraged me from focusing on hard science.
Nor did I live in a society that told me not to get dirty, or said I was bossy for exhibiting leadership skills.
In grade school I never had to fear being rejected by my peers because of my interests.
I was not bombarded by images and slogans telling me that my true worth was in how I look, and that I should abstain from certain activities because I might be thought too masculine.
I was not overlooked by teachers who assumed that the reason I did not understand a tough math or science concept was, after all, because of my gender.
I have had no difficulty whatsoever with a boys club mentality, and I will not face added scrutiny or remarks of my being the “diversity hire.”
When I experience success the assumption of others will be that I earned it.
So, you and I cannot be equal. You have already conquered far more to be in this field than I will ever face.
Senior in Mechanical Engineering
We are filled with admiration for Jared for stepping up to the plate and acknowledging the courage and perseverance of his female peers. Though this letter was addressed to the women in his classes, we believe this letter is also very much aimed at the men in his department, who sound like they largely have not treated their female counterparts with the respect they deserve. Let’s hope this department takes the wonderful open letter to heart, and that things start changing for the better.
Image via The Easterner