Feminism at CMC: Assimilation or Activism?

By: Cecily Lloyd | Feb 13, 2013 | 706 Views Opinion |

At first glance, I misinterpreted the title of the recent Forum article, “Don’t Like the Gender Gap? Don’t Encourage It.” I was under the impression that the piece would draw attention to the opinion that the boys’ club culture that CMC subscribes to perpetuates the gender gap. Obviously, I was mistaken.

In my opinion, CMC’s masculine culture facilitates appeasement and adaptation to a male-dominated society and workplace, while Scripps more effectively promotes activism through female empowerment. At CMC, we are constantly reminded that our acronym once stood for Claremont MEN’S College. A beirut table featuring a freshly painted “Men’s” College logo is currently floating around North Quad. However, many if not most colleges were initially established as same sex institutions. So why is this still an especially large part of CMC’s identity?

I attribute this bro culture to our focus of academic study. Economics and Government are some of the more common majors at our school, and they are fields in which males still make up a significant majority. This is reflected in the fact that our school is still 55% male and 44% female. While I strongly disagree with the notion that one gender is better suited than the other for any particular course of study, this train of thought still dominates society. I believe that girls at CMC studying subjects commonly associated with men are more likely to work within the system of inequality (as Miller put it), in order to be successful, rather than fight for equality.

This notion is seen not only at CMC, but after students graduate, as well. Many of our alumni go on to pursue fast-paced careers in fields such as investment banking and private equity. While finance is a highly competitive and respected field, it is still relatively behind the curve in terms of gender equality in the workplace — in terms of both numbers and culture. A prime example of this was depicted in the Atlantic article, “What It Was Like to Be a Woman at Goldman Sachs.” The author of the article, who remains anonymous, refers repeatedly to one particular female coworker who tried to adapt to the frat-like culture at Goldman in order to succeed. There were visits to strip clubs and golf retreats where heavy drinking was not only encouraged, but expected. Despite the woman’s hard work, dedication, and status as team player, she was consistently passed over for partner. Her career plateaued, and she eventually left Goldman.

In her piece, Miller wrote that CMC gives “women the opportunity to work directly alongside men in prototypical boys’ clubs.” I fear that CMC’s boys’ club culture trains CMC women to adapt to the gender gap in a negative way, much like the woman in the Goldman article. We have to ask ourselves if CMC’s boys’ club elements actually prepare women to take on the challenges of the real world. If we are learning to work within a system of inequality, how are we learning to be leaders? None of our female alumni have gone on to become a CEO or politician, and the Notable Alumni section of our Wikipedia page is all men. In my opinion, CMC needs to do a better job at fostering an equally visible counterpart to its masculine culture. One way in which CMC could promote awareness of these issues would be with the creation of a Gender Studies GE option; perhaps the course could count as one of the Humanities requirements, much like Religious Studies does.

There is room for both types of feminists; those who want to adapt to a male world, and those who want to deconstruct it. Although the notion of feminism itself is often vague and fluid, I think that most people would agree that it rests on principles of equality, choice, and mutual respect. Regardless of your college—CMC or Scripps—I hope we can all agree with that. I simply want to live in a world in which gender equality in the workplace is the norm—not one in which women must learn to adapt to inequality.

About the Author

Cecily Lloyd is a senior International Relations & French dual at CMC. Her diet is primarily comprised of egg sliders, arugula and soy lattes.

  • Bulbasaur

    Stop trying to leech (seed) off the other article’s attention.

    • Tori G.

      I really don’t think that is what she is doing. I actually found this article’s argument more valid than that of the Miller article, and particularly less shrill. The facts that none of CMC’s female alumni have gone on to be CEO’s or politicians and that our “Notable Alumni” section is all men speak for themselves. That isn’t to say our female alumni aren’t successful in their own right, but perhaps that they are seemingly satisfied with working within the system that has been provided to them, whereas more women at Scripps appear to be willing to take part in the reconstruction of said system or simply create a whole new one altogether. Great article, Cecily!

  • Adam Griffith

    Your well written article points to a pervasive and multifaceted issue, Cecily, but your solution seems somewhat wanting. First, you seem to suggest that, in order to avoid getting stuck in a boy’s club, CMC women should not pursue male-dominated fields. In practice, it seems that this would just exacerbate the problem by further decreasing the number of women entering those fields. This message is further muddled by the fact that your own major, International Relations, is overwhelmingly dominated by men (77% to 23%, http://irtheoryandpractice.wm.edu/projects/trip/Women_In_IR.pdf)

    In addition, the inclusion of a gender studies GE doesn’t seem like it would do much. Since the humanities GE leaves wide latitude in the classes CMC’ers can take to satisfy it, those most needing an education in gender issues will surely choose to take religious studies or philosophy instead.

    • Isabela O.

      Attributing the bro culture to CMC’s academic focus doesn’t mean she’s discouraging women from those fields, it’s merely pointing out the roots of why this may be the case. I think what she’s trying to say is that a more well-rounded education in the form of perhaps a gender studies class would benefit both women and men alike, especially those in the fields of econ and/or gov.

    • Tori G.

      I disagree, even though students who may most “need” the time spent studying gender issues could and probably would choose to take another GE, the fact that the college offered it as an option would be an action in and of itself stating that this was an issue our college was hoping to combat.
      I also don’t think at any point in the article Cecily said that women CMC should not participate in these male dominated fields, simply that they do participate in them, and that these fields are not moving towards gender equality at a pace that is comparable to other areas of expertise. The fact that she makes this argument coming from a male dominated IR background actually gives her article more validity in my eyes because she is in some ways being self critical as well.

  • wd

    So it is saying that because these fields are unfair to women and gender discriminate, we should not send girls into them? Interesting take. Not sure if I buy it.

  • Hmm

    I think that CMC is more of a Boys Club (bro culture) due to the fact that we originated from the GI Bill, which can be seen in our military-like housing (North Quad) and our large ROTC program today.

    • CMCer

      ok, your point?

  • Connor Barclay

    Cecily,

    While I agree with some of your arguments. The research for this article is lacking. The claim that “[n]one of our female alumni have gone on to become a CEO or politician” is just factually incorrect. In fact one female alumnus is both a CEO and a trustee of the college. Here are many prominent female alumni, and these are just the ones that can be found on CMC’s own website:

    Trustee Akshata Murty – Founder & CEO, Akshata Designs, Inc.

    Heather Callender-Potters – Chairman, Pharmajet, Inc.

    Susan Matteson King – Global Head of Marketing, Morgan Stanley Investment Management

    Nancy J. McCallin – President, Colorado Community College System

    Trustee Julie Spellman Sweet – General Counsel, Accenture

    Paula C .Littlewood – Executive Director, Washington State Bar Association

    Suzanne H. Segal – Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge, Central District of California

    Tanya Remer Altmann – Pediatrician, Author, & Media Personality

    Aly Rose – Artistic Director, Human Architecture

    http://claremontmckenna.edu/outcomes/alumni-in-action/

    Cheers,

    Connor

  • ILOVECMC

    Great article, Cecily! Wonderful job bringing up some interesting points that are likely going to be shut down unfairly and immediately by many. I hope that men who read this article do so by first trying to understand the occasional experiences of SOME women at the college without getting defensive. I also hope that the meaning of the article is taken in stride for the big picture and not quite literally. Of course there are successful female graduates and of course women should be involved in econ and government (I work in government finance). That isn’t to say that there aren’t subtle aspects of the culture at CMC and those fields that are tough for women at times. I loved CMC (especially the laid back drinking culture) and love my job, but I’m comforted to hear that another woman shared the experiences and outlook. This article is not anti-CMC, anti-frat, anti-econ, or anti-men. Just some interesting observations.

  • AngryFeminist

    Shameless to attack an innocent pong table that can’t even defend itself!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.blumenfeld.3 Mark Blumenfeld

    its obvious that the ‘men’s college’ beer pong table is an observation indented to facetiously gain support and awareness for the pressing issues THAT MUST BE DEALT WITH!!! obvi that the issue at hand is our lacking chicks to dudes ratio. I mean, cmon. Why on earth would dudes brag about their overwhelmingly disproportionate dude to chick ratio. its like a baseball player boasting about his sub .100 batting average…weird. I think the message is clear. CMC needs more chicks. We can get more female applicants if we….build a pool!!! I think this result can have greater efficacy if we replace the cube, that hideous structure filled with 70’s furniture, with a POOL!!!. its simple, the bp table was intended to spark support for the “Pool for Chicks” political movement of which I am an outspoken member.

  • Alum

    “None of our female alumni have gone on to become a CEO or politician.”

    Pretty sure Vandana Goyal ’02 is still CEO of Akanksha.

    • NoOne

      And that Nancy McCallin has been the CEO of the largest system of higher education in Colorado for the last ten years. This comes after she was the state budget director for six years.