Editorial Notebook

Let’s talk about feminism

Welcome to RPI, Class of 2018! Certainly you’ve already heard of terms like “Ratio-Induced Bitch Syndrome.” Certainly you’ve already heard a guy complain about the lack of girls. I want to address our gender issues now and implore you to think about how you act and what you say. This is a tough subject, and one I’ve been scared to touch before, but I think it’s important.

I don’t like the term RIBS. Maybe some girls act stuck-up as a result of all the extra male attention, but I haven’t met any. I describe it more as receiving overwhelming and often unwanted attention, as do my friends. Personally, I was more interested in academics as an underclassman than relationships. There are dozens of reasons for someone to not be interested in dating a particular person. Honestly, I think you should go for the best you can get. The best for one person isn’t the same as the best for another person, though. No one deserves to be in a relationship with someone they’re not attracted to or incompatible with, no matter how “unattractive,” “unpopular,” or “weird,” that person is.

Why does RPI have so few women? In short, it’s because there are fewer women interested in science, technology, engineering, and Math fields, which is a result of gender stereotypes about the type of work people can do. I suppose I count as one of those not in a STEM field, though what I plan to do is a mixture of science, technology, social science, and humanities. We all know the underlying reason behind why there are so few women at RPI, yet I don’t hear many people talking about it. Little girls are raised to think that STEM fields are “boy” fields and boring, instead of being interesting subjects with great possible careers. On the flip side, there are certain majors and careers that boys are discouraged from pursuing. These include artsy-type fields; we see this even here at RPI, whereas the School of Architecture has roughly the opposite ratio from the rest of RPI. I’ve met many students at liberal arts schools; most of them talk about a gender ratio of around 60 to 40 female to male.

Sometimes, I wonder if the gender relations at RPI and at other engineering colleges contribute to this culture. I didn’t know about RPI’s gender ratio when I chose RPI, and, while I think it has made me a stronger person in many ways and I don’t regret choosing RPI, I’m not sure if I would have made the same choice if I had known about the ratio. I think if you were a high school student figuring out your career path and you heard that certain paths would likely lead to you working in a very male-dominated career, you might think twice about entering that career field.

I identify as gender-queer, which adds another layer to how people see me and I see the world. I prefer to dress in t-shirts and shorts most of the time. I don’t wear make-up or nail polish or style my hair. I dress nicely for interviews and presentations, as society dictates, but my everyday style is very masculine. Some people take me less seriously; I’ve noticed this a little with professors. Some men are less interested in me than in women who dress and act more feminine as romantic possibilities.

Now that you’ve read my article on this very controversial topic, I want you to stop worrying about RPI’s ratio and how it affects your dating opportunities. Start worrying about how we can make all careers and majors interesting to people, regardless of gender. We’ve got a lot of work to do to fix our world, and we can’t do that by telling people they can’t be something. Stop looking down on women who are not feminine, and start thinking about celebrating a more diverse world where everyone is not compartmentalized based on what chromosomes they have. Kill RIBS.