Yikes. It seems like I may have gotten Wenhao into a bit more trouble than he deserves, so let’s try to reorganize here before anything gets really out of hand.
So, here’s what happened: some anonymous person made some profoundly absurd comment about being “appalled” that MIT would admit “anything” with 2 X-chromosomes. Wenhao posted a different comment, saying “According to Mr. Nance, everyone who is accepted is qualified, and I’m sure that that’s true. However, the disparity between those numbers is a little odd [27% acceptance rate females, 12% males], and I find it hard to believe that girls are that much more qualified than guys. This is not an accusation or an excuse for myself, but merely a curious inquiry.” Now I speak for myself here, but I think he raised a perfectly valid question. I fully understand the arguement that the female applicant pool is more self-selected, and I completely agree. (One interesting thing to note might be the trend in female applicants over the years. Anyone know where to find info on that?) At the same time, no matter how feminist you are, I’m sure that you can see that it can seem a little “convenient” that the amount of self-selectivity in the female applicant pool directly corresponds to a nearly 1:1 ratio in the admitted pool. I’ll admit that I’ve even been slightly skeptical of that in the past.
Anyway, the point I’m getting to here is that this argument is clearly a far cry from saying that every female “thing” shouldn’t be admitted. It doesn’t seem to me that Wenhao was responsible for that particular abomination. I suppose he could be and we won’t ever know since the comment was anonymous. But unless he wants to own up to it, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that it was some other anonymous troll who was responsible for that comment.
That said, I guess I might as well throw my own thoughts into the mix. You know, for the record and all. Please keep in mind that I’m only speaking of females in math/science/engineering. I suppose some of my comments could apply to minorities as well, but I’m not a minority and I don’t intend to speak for them.
I don’t think gender should be considered at all. Whether or not MIT (or anyone, for that matter) “stretches” the requirements for girls, the fact is that people perceive that they do, and this causes all kinds of trouble. I think this whole business of making “women in engineering” into a big issue just makes a huge mess. It causes unnecessary tension and questions. I know guys who have waved away every accomplishment I ever made by chalking it up to affirmative action. I know girls who start to doubt their own abilities because they start wondering if they’re only here to be “some Course Sixers girlfriend.” I know you’re thinking, “that’s absurd, no one but that crazy anonymous guy would ever say something like that, stop exaggerating,” but I’m telling you that it’s true. We’ve woven a deep psychological mess for ourselves, and some people can take it pretty hard. Which leads me into my next point.
Wenhao said, “And perhaps it is just my environment, but I don’t see very much active discrimination against women becoming scientists or engineers, I think it’s a choice, and that we all have equal opportunites.” Well, I agree and I disagree. In my experience, I’ve never encountered direct discrimination. No one’s ever said, “You can’t do that because you’re a girl.” I mean, that kind of attitude is pretty thoroughly frowned upon, right? But that doesn’t mean everything is hunky-dory. There’s a lot of subtle nonsense that goes on just under the surface. Like some of the stuff I mentioned above. Even things like being intimidated. I will tell you right now that sometimes I am afraid to ask questions just because I’m a girl. There’s definitely a stigma about it- a guy can ask a question and he’s just asking a question. A girl asks a question and it’s just because she’s some ditz who only got into MIT so they could report an even gender ratio. I’m not saying that everyone says or thinks that, but given the way we were brought up, it’s always kind of an undertone. On the flip side, some people can be really patronizing. There’s just a whole mess of hidden stuff that goes on. I think if we all just forgot about it and got on with our lives, we’d all be much happier.
Think about it. There’s a huge difference between telling a kindergartner, “You can be anything you want to be when you grow up,” and “You can be anything you want to be when you grow up, even if you are a girl.”
Whew. OK so here are my closing comments: everyone be nicer to Wenhao until someone comes forward and claims responsibility for hating on all of the brilliant, ambitious, determined, successful MIT females. (Oh, and attractive. Another topic for another day.) In fact, even then…take it easy. I mean, clearly the statement made is…well I don’t even have the words for it. So you can argue and debate the guy until you’re blue in the face, but is it really worth it? I mean, he’s clearly out of his mind. *shrug*
Enough of this, I have serious amounts of work to do. But before I sign off, one last thing: keep it civil! If anyone posts anymore inflammatory, sensationalist garbage…well I may be asked to remove it, but until then I’ll probably just laugh at you. Just keep that all in mind, k?