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A Sexist Attack

I was disturbed by Nnennia L. Ejebe’s response to The Tech’s endorsement of Sanjay K. Rao ’02 as UA President and Jaime E. Devereaux ’02 as UA Vice President. Ejebe appears to have made the unjustifiable assumption that the endorsement was motivated by the desire to assure that a man, rather than a woman, held the top position. Ejebe implies that, when two equally qualified candidates of opposite sexes run for a leadership position, the position should be awarded to the female so as to avoid sexist discrimination. But in this situation and many others, no discrimination is present.

Ejebe wrote: “It is unfortunate that, in 2001, we continue to place men in the top leadership positions, when qualified and talented women are just as able to serve effectively.” I believe the key phrase in Ejebe’s sentence is “just as able,” which is distinct from “more able.” Ejebe appears to admit that Rao would be at least as suitable for the job of president as Devereaux, and yet opposes The Tech’s endorsement simply because Rao is male. I believe that Ejebe, and a number of other self-described feminists I have met at MIT, are practicing a brand of sexism just as real and harmful as the derogation of women. Women are not intrinsically better than men. If two equally qualified candidates apply for a job, it should not be awarded to the woman out of hand. We should judge individuals based on their relevant merits and weaknesses, not based upon their sex.

Personally, I think that Rao was the worst of the three candidates on the ballot for UA president. I am glad that Devereaux won. Nonetheless, attacks such as Ejebe’s are the most openly accepted and visible, if not the post prevalent, form of sexism at MIT today.

Jason T. Rolfe ’03