Letter to the editor goes viral


Photo by Melanie Flint

Jared Mauldin in the engineering room of the CSS building.

By Lelia Thatcher, Staff Writer

Mechanical engineering student and EWU senior Jared Mauldin submitted a letter to the editor that was published in The Easterner on Sept. 30; within a few days a picture of the letter was shared and liked tens of thousands of times on social media.

Mauldin’s 254-word letter to the women in his engineering classes began with: “While it is my intention in every other interaction I share with you to treat you as my peer, let me deviate to say that you and I are in fact unequal.” He then highlighted several sexist injustices he has seen women face in STEM programs throughout his experiences and concluded: “So, you and I cannot be equal. You have already conquered far more to be in this field than I will ever face.”

Mauldin’s Facebook inbox began to overflow with messages and friend requests from people around the world. He was asked for interviews by Today, The Huffington Post, Ms. Magazine and more. This amount of attention was unusual for Mauldin, who said, “I’m an introvert, so most people, besides a few teachers, don’t know my name.”

Until now.

Mauldin said Holly Jeanneret, a girl he had Calculus 1 with, really impacted him. He quickly realized that she was consistently better at math than he was, despite the fact that he had considerable skills himself. However, when other men in the class were looking for a partner, they would often overlook her. If they did partner with her, they talked over her. If she had a different answer, they often jumped to the conclusion that she was wrong, according to Mauldin.

Mauldin said it was not just Holly; he has noticed this behavior in many classes since.

He was also married to a feminist for ten years and said, “Over time she helped me to understand the subtle comments that add up to a net social push. Once you see it, you see how often it really happens, and you can’t take up a position of ignorance anymore.”

Mauldin said he hopes this attention will make men realize this is something worth standing up for. “You can acknowledge privilege without diminishing what you’ve accomplished,” said Mauldin. He also said he believes more men share this point of view than actually talk about it.

Erin Williams, one of Mauldin’s female classmates, said in an interview with Aaron Luna for KXLY, “I’m one of three females in all of my classes.”

One of Mauldin’s personal favorite responses was from a teacher at a conservative school in Pakistan who said his female students love science and are putting Mauldin on their wall of heroes; another is a woman with a biomechanical degree who shared with Mauldin the struggle she faced with a dad and cousin who frequently told her girls just do not belong in engineering.

Mauldin admits the idea is nothing new. “Women have been talking about this forever and nobody listens — a guy stands up and says something and suddenly everybody is paying attention.”