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Re: Affirmative Action

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I have been following the discussion on affirmative action with interest
from the east coast and I thought to also give it a try with a few comments.
I have been in the States for close to 20 years now but I was born and
raised in Greece.  Now the casual observer may say that women in Greece just
stay home but this is the furthest from the truth.  Maybe it was in the
forties and fifties but when I was studying for my BS in Civil Eng. there,
half of the classmates were female.  Moreover, they were the better
students.  In my sister's class who was in medical school more than 2/3 of
the students were female.  Here, it is hard to have 10% of my students
female.  At the same time we are swamped with applications from female
students from China for graduate study.  I don't think that the engineers
are to blame.  It looks to me that this is a broader, society and cultural
type of problem.  For one thing in Greece the best of my friends were
female.  Here, I have still to see a true friendship between a boy and a
girl.  I am not sure why but I think everyone shares some blame, from the
media, to the MacDonalds' who are asking me if my daughter wants a boy or a
girl toy, to my mother-in-law who blames all women that her middle aged sons
who lost their jobs cannot find another one, to the parents who dress their
daughters in pink and only buy them barbie dolls. My three year old
daughter, a month after she started day-care, when I told her that I would
open a bottle for her because she could not do it she asked me "why, because
I am a girl?" I am not sure about other groups but I think affirmative
action policies regarding women are still needed, at least until broader
cultural changes take place.

George Tsiatas
Associate Professor
Civil Engineering
University of Rhode Island
Kingston RI 02881

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