At first glance, the letter comes across as yet another extremely problematic misogynistic rant. However, you soon realize that he means well.
Jared Mauldin doesn't believe the women in his engineering classes should be considered his equals. He simply doesn't see how his female classmates can be judged by the same parameters as he and his male peers. Sure, they might have the same GPA as him, but does that mean they stand shoulder to shoulder with him? Mauldin doesn't think so. In fact, he feels so strongly on the subject that a few years ago, he sent a letter to the editor of his school's student newspaper, The Easterner, explaining why he could never consider a woman his equal.
At first glance, Mauldin's letter comes across as yet another extremely problematic misogynistic rant. Reading the first line of the letter, you roll your eyes and almost let out an exasperated sigh when you realize that the senior in mechanical engineering at Eastern Washington University actually means well. To the women in my engineering classes: While it is my intention in every other interaction I share with you to treat you as my peer, let me deviate from that to say that you and I are in fact unequal, he begins.
Sure, we are in the same school program, and you are quite possibly getting the same GPA as I, but does that make us equal? I did not, for example, grow up in a world that discouraged me from focusing on hard science. Nor did I live in a society that told me not to get dirty, or said I was bossy for exhibiting leadership skills. In grade school, I never had to fear being rejected by my peers because of my interests. I was not bombarded by images and slogans telling me that my true worth was in how I look and that I should abstain from certain activities because I might be thought too masculine, Mauldin wrote.
He continued: I was not overlooked by teachers who assumed that the reason I did not understand a tough math or science concept was, after all, because of my gender. I have had no difficulty whatsoever with a boys club mentality, and I will not face added scrutiny or remarks of my being the "diversity hire." When I experience success the assumption of others will be that I earned it. Concluding his 254-word letter, Mauldin wrote: So, you and I cannot be equal. You have already conquered far more to be in this field than I will ever face.
The thought-provoking letter soon went viral on social media with many praising Mauldin for his words and women thanking him for putting into words their everyday struggles to be taken seriously. One of them, Lynne Lebron, wrote: I can't begin to tell you how inspiring it was to read Jared Mauldin’s letter to the editor addressing his female engineering classmates. As a female engineer 30 years into my career, I can tell you the struggle is real.. Jared clearly gets it and this inspires hope for the future. Thank you, Jared.
Jared – I’m 59 years old and I got my Ph.D. in physiology more than 30 years ago. Thank you for this. You have reduced this tough-minded old feminist to tears, wrote Sherry Marts. Mauldin, however, doesn't believe he deserves such praise for simply pointing out the reality of being a woman. Speaking to TODAY, he said, "Really, when you look at this letter, I said nothing new. I didn’t say anything that another feminist writer hasn’t said before. The distinguishing factor... happens to be that I am a man. That is a problem." Mauldin explained that he was motivated to write the letter after often observing the men at the university slight their female peers. "Maybe by standing up and breaking the silence from the male side, I can help some more men begin to see the issues, and begin to listen to the women who have been speaking about this all along," he told HuffPost.