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Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, April 5, 2004
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Editor's Note: The Issue of the Week, "A man-only major," published Thursday was an April Fools' Day joke. Some readers got the joke and some didn't. Below is a sampling of their responses.

Ban on female enrollment 'chauvinistic,' detrimental

After reviewing the "Man-only major" Issue of the Week published in Thursday's Wildcat, I am appalled to learn that the student body agrees with the ban on female enrollment in the College of Engineering. The students approve of the basis for exclusion not because of the school's motives, but because of generalized stereotypes. Numerous quotes from the columnists implied that women were incapable of excelling in math and science, and as a result should be prohibited from enrolling in the engineering program. Yes, Barbie did say, "Math is hard," but since when is Barbie the spokeswoman for the modern woman? Denying women educational opportunities will eventually lower women's status as beneficial workers in the economy. Is our society prepared to face the consequences of such disparaging attitudes?

If we choose to be influenced by stereotypes, does that imply that we should only allow Asian students to be active participants in the mathematics department? Maybe we should only permit African-Americans to be athletes at the UA. Do you see where I am going with this? The whole idea is ludicrous! Are changes that suppress students consistent with the university's drive for diversity? There is a lot to lose by acting so hastily. If the committee members so readily segregate female students from educational programs, are they inclined to do the same for other minorities? Worse, will our student body allow its future to be compromised because of such chauvinistic discrimination?

Christine Gniedziejka
psychology senior

Women contribute much to College of Engineering

This is an open letter complaining about the recent decision by the Executive Committee of the College of Engineering to bar women from enrolling in the college in the future. I just want to tell whoever is interested that this issue will blow up in your face if you don't address it soon. This is such a bad idea; it will generate way more negative publicity than this college will want. I personally plan on fighting this move with a petition of UA students, faculty and alumni. In addition, I will start a phone campaign to encourage alumni to stop contributing to the university if this action goes through. I for one can testify that there are many talented and bright female engineering students out there. Just because their enrollment is not as high as that of males doesn't mean you have the right to tell a woman that she is not accepted at this university based upon her gender. This will also have a negative impact in the community at large. You don't want to send a message to Tucson and the Arizona community that bright young girls need to seek other colleges if they want to pursue an education in engineering.

It also seems that if the College of Engineering wants to distinguish itself from other competitive schools, this method is the worst way to pursue it. It shows that the UA is arrogant, backward and chauvinistic. Is this the picture you want to paint in the minds of all those high school students and their parents across the country? Do you think more grants will be given to this college, or less? Do you think employers will hire students from here because of their talents, or will these students only be known as engineering students who went to the school that didn't allow girls? Have you thought about how much grant approval depends upon the voices of women?

The bottom line here is that there are many women - both as students and teachers - in the College of Engineering. Their contribution to the field and to their studies is noteworthy. They are exceptional women with extraordinary talent. We need more of them in the college, not less.

Bryan Neilson
computer engineering senior

April Fools' Day joke 'insulting' to women

I've always found the Wildcat newspaper to be an enjoyable read, but I do have to tell you that I felt personally insulted and repulsed by one of your April Fools' Day articles. The paper ran an opinions piece about some "secret decision" the College of Engineering made to ban women from the college. Considering the date of the article and the subject matter, I'm fairly certain this article was intended as a joke.

I found it nonetheless to be personally insulting because I am a female and a proud senior in mechanical engineering, and I have worked hard to be where I am, about to graduate in May. I am also the first chairwoman of the Society of Automotive Engineers here, and I am proud of my affiliation with and service to the College of Engineering. When you allow an article like this to be printed, it makes what I work hard for into a joke. You let your writers take an issue that is all too real to me and make it into something that they all laughed at with their cutesy responses about how women just aren't made for engineering, math and science.

I realize they were joking, but I have honestly had to listen to several professors and other students talk about how they truly believe that women's brains are made differently than men's and are not made to do math or engineering, so I am at a disadvantage. I have been kidded several times by other students who think I must get the grades I do because I sleep with instructors, or that I'm wasting my time becoming an engineer due to my gender.

Female engineers face discrimination in the workplace, sexual harassment and the fact that they are likely to earn a considerable percentage less than the average salary for a male engineer.

There are far too few students who truly believe that it's OK for me to be where I am, in charge of a club made up almost exclusively of men, and in a major that is overwhelmingly male. I am thankful every day for the members of my club and my friends in my classes who think nothing of my gender and treat me as a leader and fellow student, not just as a woman.

Unfortunately, while the jokes are usually funny, this one was done in extremely poor taste and took a real issue and made it into an insensitive mess.

Stacey Cole
mechanical engineering senior

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