Search This Blog

Saturday, March 1, 2014

OSU leaders fired and student view of genderism today

Thomas Kraemer sitting on the lap of Santa Claus pointing to his bushy eyebrows circa 1950s PHOTO: (click on photo to enlarge) Thomas Kraemer was fascinated with Santa's bushy eyebrows. When the Barbie Doll was first introduced several years after this photo was taken, his request to Santa Claus for a Barbie Doll was never fulfilled, despite his sister receiving one. See previous post Asking Santa for a Barbie doll was gay 50 years ago - A Christmas Story (12/21/10).

Most young female college students in 2014 have been raised in an environment created by the 20th Century Women's Liberation Movement, which encouraged girls to ignore sexist gender roles and, if they wished, "play with Tonka trucks or pretend to be a dinosaur on the playground," according to a college student newspaper opinion piece by Cassie Ruud, "Anti-femininity causes gender equality to backslide," posted Feb. 26, 2014

OSU student Cassie Ruud shared her experience from childhood and observed that "I could play with Tonka trucks but (my brother) couldn't play with nail polish," which prompted her to ask, "But what about the little boys who want to play with Easy Bake Ovens?" It reminded me of asking Santa for a Barbie Doll more than a half-century ago and it saddens me if she is right that the situation for boys hasn't changed much.

Oregon State University for decades has implemented affirmative action programs to correct the past wrongs of both race and gender discrimination, especially in the academic area of engineering, which historically has attracted and graduated only a few females in each class along with very few students with a minority race or ethnicity (other than foreign students).

This is why it is culturally significant that until recently both the Dean of Engineering at OSU and the Head of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science School were both women.

Then both the female Dean of Engineering at OSU and the female head of the OSU EE and CS department were fired recently, it quickly led to angry accusations about the competence of OSU administrators from both industry and alumni leaders, who often recruit graduates from OSU and also fund research at OSU.

Needless to say, because Corvallis, Oregon is the home of Oregon State University and a small college town of less than 50,000 residents, it is not hard for me to hear the gossip associated with the firing of two female engineering school leaders.

As somebody who has no insider knowledge of the firing, nor any close knowledge of the competence of the two women, I will avoid taking sides, however, I had previously formed the opinion that both women were not doing as good of a job as previous Deans and Department Heads due to their not being as good at communicating with alumni and industry leaders and bringing in new research funding and industry support for OSU. Also, I do not have any opinion about how the role of OSU Provost, who fired these women, plays in it, but agree that he ultimately bears responsibility, especially if things do not improve after he has replaced these two women.

For my friends who are miles away from OSU and who may be curious to read about the soap opera erupting on campus, listed below are links to the student newspaper coverage and also a professional local newspaper story: