The New York Times recently published an op-ed by Joanne Lipman entitled, “The Mismeasure of Woman.” She questions how far women have come in American society. The numbers are improving: 38 women have served as Senators, 40% of families have women as the major breadwinner, and four out of eight Ivy League presidents are women. However, a consistently troubling statistic is that women continue to make less than men in 2009. Lipman believes that we, as a society, have come to a plateau in forwarding women’s equality.
This is not an issue that we have had to directly face. Fortunately, we have been lucky enough to never have to confront open hostility or discrimination based on our gender. Unfortunately, this illustrates Lipman’s point that our fight for equality has stalled because the offenses that women face today are hidden and nuanced. Such offenses are much harder to rally around and confront. Personally, there has never been anything to make us stand up and demand change.
Carleton is not a place that discriminates based on gender. The same basic opportunities are provided to both men and women. Even so, we have witnessed disparities between men and women on campus. Whether it is a conscious effort or simply human nature, men tend to participate more in class. According to the Climate Survey, women are more likely than men to be the victims of sexual harassment and assault. Carleton provides the same education for both men and women. Yet there are issues that directly affect women that do not affect men.
Are we saying that Carleton, as an institution, is responsible for these issues that disproportionally affect women? No. Our point rather is that these issues do exist, they are real, and they need to be addressed. Students, faculty, and staff have been taking steps to change this. A review of the Policies Against Sexual Misconduct is underway. The ongoing dialogues on the meaning of masculinity are also an important contribution to better understanding the issues.
Community, Equity and Diversity Initiative (CEDI) formed to address issues such as these. CEDI’s Statement On Diversity embodies what we, as students, must do: “Carleton students must meaningfully encounter difference in order to grow personally and live fruitfully in society and contribute to its work.” We encourage all students, faculty, and staff to get involved and partake in this dialouge whether through forums such as the upcoming townhall meeting, the viewpoint pages of The Carletonian, or simple conversations within the community.
-The editorial represents the views of The Carletonian Editors