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Who's Oppressed?

The other day in class I was blown away by something one of my classmates said to me. Before I say what it was that she said, I will describe her. She is a Muslim and wears a headscarf. Ah, yes, one of those oppressed women who are forever destined by her religion to live a second-class life.

What she said to me is, "Why don't more American women study engineering?" This was in the middle of a lecture on gender roles in Latin America, what women could and could not do. It turns out that she is studying biochemical engineering. "I am the only woman in my class," she said. "Why don't more American women study engineering?"

I had no answer to that. But it made me wonder just who is oppressed and who is liberated here.


Lawrence Summers asked that question when he was president of Harvard. Since Harvard had been bending over backwards for over 40 years to make it happen without success, he wondered aloud if it might be genetic.

He was fired as a result of that comment.

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Spinning Compass
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