Thursday, October 18, 2012

A man's world

As a woman in BYU’s accounting program, I am one of the few. I’d say I’m part of the…25% or so. I haven’t had any really negative experiences in my time here. A few sexist jokes here and there, nothing more than I’ve heard anywhere else in life.

I have dealt with frustration in terms of not being able to relate to male recruiters and guest speakers, who are almost always men whose wives stay home with the kids. I’ve felt like people didn’t understand the unique issues facing an LDS woman interested in pursuing a career in business. But I’ve never felt like someone was telling me I belonged at home or that I didn’t deserve my place in the accounting program. I’ve never had my peers assume that I won’t pursue a career because I’m married. But, unfortunately, the weirdies do exist.

I’ve heard horror stories of women being explicitly asked by their peers why they took a man’s spot in the business school. I’ve heard people mention conversations they overheard where two students were discussing how it wasn’t fair that women were taking men’s spots. I even heard about a student telling a female professor that she shouldn’t be working, but should be at home.

Apparently the business school has been getting some negative feedback about the behavior of their students out in the field. In particular, a few students have been extremely awkward in interacting with their female colleagues.

In public accounting, you are usually assigned to a peer mentor who is a couple years ahead of you who can help answer your questions and is basically there to help you succeed. Apparently one student told his female peer mentor that No, he couldn’t go out to lunch with her, because he is married and shouldn’t be alone with other women. How. Awkward.

Another student told his supervisor that her low cut tops were making it hard for him to control his thoughts.

Can I just say that these are definitely the exception as opposed to the norm? The fact that these are only stories I’ve heard rather than stories I’ve experienced goes to show that the behavior is not commonplace. But can I also say that this is the type of behavior that results from a culture that hyper-sexualizes women through its lessons on women’s modesty and how it relates to a man’s ability to stay pure? These lessons can succeed in turning women into sex objects who must be avoided at all costs. To tell a female coworker than you can’t get lunch with her because she is a woman implies that you think women = sex. If your wife is so jealous of you interacting with other woman, apparently she also holds the unfortunately belief that women and sex are one and the same.

Anyways, my main point in this post was just to say how wonderful the professors are in handling these situations. This year they cancelled regular classes in the Junior Core and spent the time talking about not being weird (it included interacting with members of the opposite sex among other topics that students seem to struggle with). I’ve had professors completely call out students for making sexist jokes. I’ve had professors remind students that the male:female ratio in our accounting program is not representative of the ratio in the profession and to get used to working with women. I’ve always felt like my professors were my advocates. On top of that, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had teachers bring up the topic of homosexuality and preach about how students need to get over themselves and put their own feelings aside and love everyone.

So can I just say that despite this university being sponsored by the church, I have been so impressed with how progressive my teachers are (well... progressive for Mormons!).

There you have it, a little bit of insight into the business school.

1 comment:

  1. oh my FREAKING gosh. this is amazing to read about. thanks SO MUCH for sharing. btw, i once told my female professor she should not be teaching, but should be at home, too. it's fine.