Hundreds of people held a protest at Boise State University in Idaho after a professor said men should be the focus for recruitment in engineering, medicine and law.
Political science professor Scott Yenor sparked controversy at the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando, Florida when he delivered a speech titled ‘The Family Form that Nations Need’.
During the speech, given on October 31, Yenor argued that ‘every effort made must be made not to recruit women into engineering, but rather to recruit and demand more of men who become engineers’. He added, ‘Ditto for med school, and the law, and every trade.’
Footage of Yenor’s speech sparked backlash online, prompting the professor to argue that he did not want to prevent women from getting into these professions, but rather that there should be an end to ‘making special efforts to recruit women into fields where they don’t seem to want to be’.
Approximately 500 men and women took part in the protest against Yenor’s comments on Saturday, December 4, after which Idaho State Representative Brooke Green, who helped organise the event, stressed that Yenor’s beliefs are ‘not only outdated, but completely sexist and reflect a society that no longer exists’.
Speaking to CNN, she said:
Many young women at the university are worried their futures are in the hands of a tenured professor who believes they do not deserve to be there and occupy a seat that belongs to a man.
Women shouldn’t have to spend time today defending our value in society or rights as human beings however, women wanted to gather to send a message saying we will continue to occupy professional spaces, whether it’s a boardroom, courtroom, or leadership role within our community.
In response to the backlash, Boise State University issued a statement to say it does not endorse Yenor’s comment, though stressed it ‘cannot infringe’ on his ability to make them.
Boise State University understands that the open exchange of ideas, which is fundamental to education, can introduce uncomfortable and even offensive ideas.
However, the university cannot infringe upon the First Amendment rights of anyone in our community, regardless of whether we, as individual leaders, agree or disagree with the message. No single faculty member defines what Boise State – or any public university – endorses or stands for.
The university also acknowledged that women have ‘made significant and meaningful contributions to all areas of academia, industry, and society’, and said it supports ‘all women in our community’.
As well as causing the protests, Yenor’s comments prompted social media users to brand him as ‘misogynistic’.
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