LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Similarities exist between gender gaps, minorities

Friday, March 16, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

This letter is in response to the Columbia Missourian article "Math gender gap theory faces skepticism from MU professor."

In the article, you inform the readers of the gender gap that exists in math and science, and do the opposition justice by writing about the counterarguments. The article, I must admit, was long, but there is an argument I read that caught my attention that I would like to argue against. MU engineering major Dana Willsey states the following:

"You walk into a classroom, and you realize that 75 to 80 percent of the students are male. In that instant, you realize that you will be surrounded by males. When that happens to me, I know that I'm going to have to prove myself."

As an immigrant who came to this country a decade ago with no money and no knowledge of the culture or the English language, I believe it's relevant that I chime in.

Using Willsey's argument, each time I arrive to any room full of my peers, I assure you that I'm surrounded 99 percent by non-Albanians. You should be aware that I'm an excellent student at the university and also a licensed insurance producer (agent) for Shelter Mutual Insurance Companies. 

The takeaway message here is that being different is not a disadvantage but rather an advantage because it makes you work harder; even Willsey said, "I put in extra work outside the classroom." Of course it's important to know that how each individual handles tasks varies — while some only see problems, others see opportunities. Who is to say that Willsey as a man could have excelled in the same classes in an alternate universe?

At each day of our lives we all come into moments of reality where we are a minority, where we don't fit in, but the objective is not to give up but to overcome and succeed.

My work here is finished.

Arijan Ibrahimi is an MU student.

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