Women in Lyle article response

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By Danh Nguyen

This guest opinion is in response to “The Style of Lyle School’s Female Engineers,” which was published Dec. 10, 2015.

On any given day, I can be found deep within the recesses of SMU’s Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering — by recesses I mean 1,500 sq ft. of space called the Deason Innovation Gym. There I can find food, an arcade machine, a 3D printer, people writing code (not “cracking codes”) and solving problems. The last thing on my mind is what I’m wearing — or what anyone else is wearing.

I am a male engineer who does not own any designer clothing, knows little about women’s style, and has never written any kind of journalism piece before. So why am I writing about the style of Lyle women? I am writing because I have not read such a ridiculous and borderline ignorant article about women in the campus newsletter since my freshman year. More importantly, I want to write about what I think Lyle style is, and should be.

Lyle professors and staff, in my opinion, care a lot. They care about the quality of work my friends and I submit, they care about us trying in our classes and they care about our safety. But they do not care about style. If Lyle women are comfortable and do their best work in jeans and a T-shirt, or sweats, then great. If you do your best work in baggy clothing, go ahead; if you want to look nice, don’t let anyone else stop you. Do you want to wear opened-toed shoes and jewelry? Sure, but change when you enter areas that use sharp objects, heavy materials or power tools. That’s what a female engineer told me before she trained me on that equipment. Your clothing does not give you any kind of competitive advantage in Lyle, the only reason you would be told to change is for safety around tools or machinery.

The original article implies that women dressing femininely means they are dressing like people in Greek life, as if those things are one and the same. Well, those two do not go together all the time. I have seen Greek letters proudly displayed by all engineers on bags, laptops, jackets, shirts, etc. And if you fear any kind of backlash, then I encourage you to don those letters. You will see that people don’t care. I also encourage you to wear layers, because it’s cold out. In Lyle, we have members of fraternities and sororities as TAs, graders, ambassadors and leaders of honor societies. We also have people not affiliated with Greek life in those positions because your letters, like your fashion, do not define you.

In Lyle, we are proud of our engineers. We are proud of our female students traveling to Bolivia as part of Engineers without Borders, our female interns at places like Microsoft, and our female directors in the Hart Center for Engineering Leadership, the Deason Innovation Gym, the Hunt Institute, etc. Their only style is breaking down barriers in an industry historically dominated by men and they dress however they want doing it.

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