A doctoral candidate at the University of North Dakota published a paper suggesting that we should make Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses more “inclusive” of women by making then “less competitive,” which is about the most sexist thing I’ve ever heard.
“There is an opportunity for STEM courses to reduce the perception of courses as difficult and unfriendly through language use in the syllabi, and also as a guide for how to use less competitive teaching methods and grading profiles that could improve the experience of female students,” Laura Parson wrote in the paper.
In other words:
Women are so fragile that a syllabus with “unfriendly” language would be enough to scare them out of pursuing the careers they would otherwise want to pursue. Men can handle taking a course even if a syllabus makes it sound “difficult,” but women cannot because they are weaker and less confident.
Oh, and, use “less competitive teaching methods” because women, unlike men, just cannot handle the pressure of competition, which is also why we should probably stop these professors from grading on a curve, too:
“Grading on a curve is one way that the literature has found to be competitive and discouraging to women and minorities,” she continued, clarifying that it’s not only women but also minorities that she considers incapable of taking STEM classes the way they are now.”
The title of Parson’s paper is “Are STEM Syllabi Gendered? A Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis,” but I’ve got to say that it feels a little more like a slap in the face to women than “feminist” to me. Her intention may have been to find ways to advance women in these fields, but promoting the idea that women need special protections to succeed is only setting us back further.