Sunday, March 30, 2014

What Was He Thinking?

When I read via mancheez about mechanical engineering professor Thomas Impelluso's sexist remarks about women on A Voice For Men, I was actually shocked.  I won't quote or summarize, just refer you to her posts.

Prof. Impelluso has elsewhere, in more mainstream forums, commented that he refuses to care about the lack of women in engineering so long as boys are lagging in reading skills.  This recalls Attila Vinczer's idiotic assertion that the focus on breast cancer just demonstrates how nobody cares about prostate cancer.  Everything is a zero-sum game with these fools.  And everything, in the end, is the fault of feminism.

And frankly, speaking as someone who teaches "college readiness" classes in reading and writing, I am offended by the implication that the young men in my class get short shrift compared to the women.  If anything, I spend more time with and more attention to helping male students in and out of class.

Now, of course I wasn't shocked that a professor might personally, in the darkest recesses of his guarded heart, hold those views  (although I still have a hard time reconciling such ignorance, arrogance, and just plain "crankiness" with being, well, educated).  What flabbergasts me is that he posted them under his real name.  Never mind the retro mindset and hostility to women in math, which, by the way, is completely counter to the efforts most academic institutions (including my own) are making to encourage women to enter STEM fields.  Never mind the curious obsession with penises and with the obligation of women to make those penises happy.  It's the simple and utter lack of common sense that blows me away. 

I can only think of Jay Leno's 1995 interview with Hugh Grant: "What the hell were you thinking?"


  1. It always strikes me as ironic when people consider campaigns to support minority representation in academics (not just women, but racial minorities such as Blacks and Hispanics in a formerly WASP dominated society), as unfair privilege, when they enjoy these same privileges by default. This includes something as simple as explicitly encouraging minorities to study subjects like engineering and math. Men are encouraged to do so, so why is it any different for women?

    I notice the US that both women and Black Americans have to deal with issues where people overly-encourage them to pursue non-academic fields (such as sports for Black Americans - promoting the stereotype that Blacks are only meant to be athletes - and arts for women.) I don't think this leaky pipeline is as pervasive for the traditionally dominant demographic.

  2. So, I wonder - I do not care about the lack of women in engineering fields - considering that there are no laws forbidding them from entering.

    In fact - I am not aware of anything forbidding them from entering the fields.

    My graduating EE class had 11 men, 2 women. Neither of those two women were mistreated, looked down upon or anything negative. It seemed like a very positive environment to me.

    Yes, it lacked women - but I believe that is by the choices people make.

    Does that make me a misogynist?

    1. The fact that you don't care does not make you a misogynist as far as I am concerned.

      I think we need to be cautious about attributing everything to "choice." When I was a girl (a million years ago) engineering was definitely considered a "masculine" field. That started to change in the seventies.

      Of course, my own father would have been THRILLED if I had shown an aptitude for math and spatial reasoning and become an engineer like himself. Unfortunately, I was not gifted in that direction, so made very different choices. He was always encouraging me to go into fields that were traditionally male dominated because that's where the money was. As I've mentioned more than once, my father had more to do with my becoming a "feminist" than anyone else.

    2. How odd - because I remember the graduating class of 1943 in Mechanical Engineering as having 11 men and 2 women in it as well.

      It seems to me like nothing has changed - except that some bad attitudes have cropped up.


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