Women in Engineering is a praiseworthy organization; I would not mar their good name, for I know them as providers of free food and that is a virtue which amnesties all sins.
There is a plethora of similar sisterhoods on campus, ranging from sponsors of women-only networking events to ‘inclusive’ sponsors of caffeine and tea. Their general raison d’etre is to promote the existence of women in this or that field and to promote the survival of those already present.
A praiseworthy cause – and it does warm my heart to see my poor life choices so validated by semi-official channels. All the same, I am not quite certain that they might not do better to broaden their purpose; men are surely quite as malnourished as women and probably quite as in need of networking and caffeine. The knowledge that their forefathers oppressed their foremothers is probably a poor consolation for missing out on free coffee.
Female-only events, or even events geared specifically towards the fairer sex, are inherently unfair unless there are similar events for males (indubitably there are not). It is quite simply unjust that half the population should have access to resources the other half is deprived of.
The common rejoinder is that history and society combine to hamper women in STEM – whether that be true or not, I leave to the Arts majors – but all the same, it is a poor thing to meet injustice with further injustice. To remedy the sins of our fathers is praiseworthy; to do it by kicking our brothers in the loins, less so.
If we mean to abjure the past, let us abjure it entirely. A girl in engineering was noteworthy in 1915 – it is so no longer. It is a routine, mundane, everyday sight…certainly nothing so rare, or fragile as to merit an organization or ten dedicated to protecting her existence.
To tell a girl that it is so is to tell her that the world is a minefield of sausages, wherein no dame may venture without arming herself with Simone de Beauvoir and a few frying pans. It is, moreover, to tell a girl that she has ventured firmly onto male territory. This is not a concept liable to console the hearts of the oppressed and sleep deprived.
As men and women are equally consigned to suffer in engineering, we would do well to discard the relics of ages past and to cease picking at this half-healed scab. It would be a most excellent triumph for social justice if men, as well as women, might have every opportunity to listen to the self-advertisement of three pence startups – it would certainly be a great triumph for students if there were more equity in access to free food. It might even lead to an engineer getting laid.