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Clavem Abyssi

Regarding the Biblical injunction for women to cover their heads in church, I don't see why you think Paul's referring to a particular abuse in a particular place. His point here and elsewhere is that people should subdue their personal fanciness when assembled. Women did (and do) tend to wear fancy jewelry, so he says not to wear jewelry. Women did (and do) have fancy hairdos, so he said to cover up their hair. Is our culture any different than late-Hellenic culture in regards to jewelry and hair?

(Of course, some women have very modest hairdos and some men have fancy ones, but one can hardly expect Paul to provide a list of hairdos that require covering and ones that don't, complete with illustrations)

What if the priest had long, flowing hair, a perm, highlights, etc... would you not find this at all distracting? Wouldn't you feel a bit relieved if, one Sunday, he came to Mass with his hair either cut off, or hidden in some sort of hairnet?

(And I confess that the giddy traditionalist in me does delight in seeing the "code of older piety", whether it be prayer cards, rosaries, veils, habits, home icons, statues, etc... I suppose it might all be hypocrisy and pretension, but that is, I think, a bit cynical)

gsk

If it were more important, then the Magisterium would include it in canon law. I cannot conclude anything other than it being a social construct, especially when women who defend it say things like: "It makes me feel..." or "I concentrate better..."

Jesus, as an observant Jew, always covered his head when praying. The prayer shawl for men was mandated in law and was codified as a recognisable religious item. Jewish women of that day (I think) always covered their hair as a principle based on their femininity. It was not religious custom, but social and cultural.

That construct no longer exists in 21st century America. To tell me that other cultures had greater honour for femininity as indicated by their head-gear misses the point. The theology comes first, and the homage paid to it through dress follows.

Interestingly, one of the sites referenced by a comment on WDTPRS praising mantillas says the following: "The mantilla is a traditional Spanish garment, which has a special significance in Andalusia. Is a variant of the veil that was used for women in the religious celebrations, but actually is used by Andalusian women in great celebrations. In Andalusia, the mantilla acquires it main significance in Holy Week, being an essential piece in the great bullfight evenings too."

That's not theological, but local secular custom. That doesn't help the argument to cover the heads of Catholic women today.

Paula

First, let me just say how glad I am to discover this blog!

I too am struggling with this issue. While the underlying theological issues are certainly more important, an outward sign of inward disposition is of value too. But I worry about seeming holier-than-thou, since to me a part of orthodoxy (as well as convenience, since I don't drive) is attending my local parish, not shopping around for the one that most exactly agrees with my views. OK, make that the fear of appearing holier-than-thou and the fear of appearing weird. But I suspect I will decide to wear a veil eventually. By the way, since I just discovered your blog, what are your views on women as lectors (another troublesome issue for me)?

Enbrethiliel

+JMJ+

Genevieve, I may have been attracted to veiling mainly because of emotional reasons similar to those you've mentioned in your comment; but I would never have covered my head (and attracted a lot of unwanted attention) if there had not also been a reason beyond the emotional.

I think of wearing a veil as part of praying with my body, which is an undeniably female body. Dr. Alice von Hildebrand has written of the "veiling" of a virgin's womb with the hymen. (What a mysterious part of the body! I don't think there's a Darwinian explanation for the existence of the hymen--or at least I haven't heard one.) I see the veil as a reflection of this mystery of the female body, and it is one way I praise God for having created me female.

As for the problem with women who use contraception and other bigger issues, I respectfully disagree with your stand that they should be solved first before we even think of encouraging veils. (Note that I wrote "encouraging" and not "mandating": I'm personally too wimpy to suggest laying down the law.) I believe it would actually help, in an age when feminism is trying to erase all the differences between male and female, to be reminded that those differences are actually sacred. Veils seem to me to be an excellent sacramental to dispose us to that attitude.

gsk

Paula: I am a lector, although I struggle with scruples about it occasionally. At this point, I could make a stand and quit, but it doesn't seem to be appropriate. It's dangerous to be "more Catholic than the pope." Especially this one!

Now concerning the "appearance" of veiling. Please know I am not trying to undermine each woman who feels "called" to do it. It sounds like it makes a point, draws in who it will, and has an influence all its own -- God bless you! but...

A circle of my friends has been discussing this for years. There are women who "get it" and women who struggle, worrying that to submit to God will destroy their freedoms, ruin their lives, and make them "old school robots." The world convinces them of this constantly. We, who have found the love of God and know what it asks of us, know better, but we struggle with how to make ourselves accessible to others -- to the women at Sunday Mass, in the carpool line, at the soccer field, etc.

We've already marginalised ourselves in various ways: homeschooling, having more kids, staying home, daily Mass, joining Legion of Mary, living a holiness that cannot help but be noticed, although it is not our intent.

I think I said: "What is negotiable?" Clothes, makeup, those sorts of things are. To wear jeans when appropriate, to keep up with reasonable fashions, to take some effort with the [aging] face, to join into harmless fun -- these things are negotiable, though they may be distasteful at times. How many saints went to dances and parties against their will, because it was their husband's wish, or to avoid them would have been rude.

Thus, I've concluded that to sit in a pew with a large brood of kids, wearing a skirt to my ankles, a chapel veil and the like (in MY case) would not be apostolic. It would convince everyone that we were unaccessible throwbacks. Even our kids will occasionally grumble that we are a "freak show" as it is.

I give in on what I can give (and believe me, I feel unaccessible already, because women have "radar"). Women have a sense, and perhaps there are ways to meet them half-way on occasions.

And finally, to say that the head veil is a reference to a woman's hymen is quite brilliant -- but it's a social construct. It's a man-made connexion that the Church doesn't endorse. Beautiful, speculative, but a construct, all the same.

Clavem Abyssi

But it's not purely a construct because it serves the function of hiding one's hair, as well as limiting the view of one's face. It has a function, it solves a problem, it's not a construct.

A necktie is a construct. It serves no purpose whatsoever other than indicating a higher degree of formality. It has symbolic value only.

You might disagree that hiding one's hair and limiting the view of one's face is a desirable thing, but you can't dismiss it as a construct when it's clearly not.

Moreover, the veil does have relevant symbolism in 21st century Western society. It is associated with being a bride, since most brides still wear veils, which is appropriate symbolism, since the Church is the spouse of Christ.

You can't reject something just because it is imbued with meaning derived from the surrounding society. That doesn't make it theologically insignificant. It would be like saying "I refuse to kneel during Mass, because there exists a tribe of Pacific Islanders for whom kneeling is a sign of disrespect, therefore kneeling is a purely secular custom and has no theological significance."

gsk

Very good points, Clavem. But how to revive a theologically-charged custom without being divisive? I'll pray on it more. If you're right, then a sound thesis must be presented. I'm still uncomfortable with leading the Church on this. Living the icon (of bride) is essential, but I'm not sure that the icon needs a veil in order to be a bride.

Veritas

"There is so much to do in order to win the hearts and minds of women, so that they understand their inherent dignity but beginning with frivolous accidents..."

I agree with the first clause of that sentence entirely, and cannot think of a better reason to wear a chapel veil to Mass than that! Precisely because it evangelizes piety. It is the symbol of s piety (and purity) a woman is called to uphold as part and parcel with her inherent dignity. Clavem, I think, is on point: why do we suppose the custom is still retained for weddings?

Such small signs are by no means frivilous no secondary to so-called "more pressing concerns." They speak to a culture that rejects mulieris dignitatem, even within the Church, i.e. those women who fill the pews. Perhaps for some it merely breeds contempt (unfortunately). But maybe...just maybe...for others it's a lead in or a "spark" to a critical discernment about what it truly means to be a Catholic woman in a highly secuarlized culture. It's a public witness much in the same way a habit is, or a collar, or a suit and tie. It is a wonderfully simple and humble antidote to a parish whose pews are often packed with blue jeans, shorts, and tube tops.

That side, I don't think wearing a veil requires so deep philosophical reason. It can simply be because, yes, women wore veils before. It marks a continuity with our past and who we are as Catholics. People have advanced the same argument about habits--that they are no longer relevant to a supposedly modern world--but nothing could be further from the truth! They bear witness!

Veritas

P.S. My fiancee (who I'll call "Ann") wore her chapel veil to Easter Mass...the only woman there with one on. My 3 year old neice was also there. She asked her father, "Is 'Ann' getting married?"

lindsay

Perhaps it is my own vanity, but I do dislike the stereotype associated with this comment:

"that to sit in a pew with a large brood of kids, wearing a skirt to my ankles, a chapel veil and the like (in MY case) would not be apostolic."

I respect that you emphasize the condition as your own, but it still seems to support the stereotype that women who place a priority on feminine dress and covering their head are frumpy and "weird looking."

I think that I wear fairly fashionable clothing (at least in the classic sense--I have no desire to be "trendy."), and I am a "hatter" rather than a "veiler." I've always liked hats, though, and bought most of mine before I was even Catholic; so, perhaps I am less self-conscious than others might be in wearing them?

You may not feel apostolic and do feel marginalized by wearing what you perceive to be the "Traditional CAtholic" uniform. I kind of feel the opposite--that I can portray a positive image of these choices showing that one can dress this way a look at least somewhat "with it." Most of the ladies I know who wear mostly dresses and skirts and a head covering pull it off without looking frumpy in the least.

Oh, and I must admit, I don't wear skirts to my ankles, but I do make sure they cover my knees when I sit. I also find it easier to pull on a flattering denim skirt than a pair of jeans--it is much more forgiving of my "baby weight" fluctuations;)

However, I PROMISE that if I meet you some day wearing a pair of jeans, or at mass not covering your head, I won't judge you at all. I pray that I can break that stereotype as well.

I do wonder at the original posts comparison of veiling to contraception. Obviously, it is a sin to contracept, and I doubt many people would go so far as to call not covering one's head a sin. However, I think that the dismissal of the practice around the same time of the rise of feminism (the bad sort) does indicate the loss of this custom is a symptom of the same source problem. I'm not sure that rectifying it is a definitive cure for the bigger problems associated with the rise of feminism, but treating symptoms can offer some relief when one is sick.

Depending on one's temperament, sometimes "moving backwards" is effective. I was attracted to the beautiful liturgical traditions of the Catholic church before I grew to understand and accept its teaching and authority in matters of doctrine. It was the "outward appearance " of the Church, however, that first drew me in. Perhaps that is why in my personal life, I have trouble separating the outward signs of my femininity with the more interior ones.

Lisa

"Thus, if one woman says, “a ha! I get it!” and dons a veil, bully for her. But she cannot then cast her aspersions on the rest of her unwashed pew-mates as “less holy.”"

As a women who covers her head (and began doing so very recently), I have to say that this comment makes me very, very sad. One of the main reasons I dug my heels in regards to this is that I didn't want to be seen as judgemental, or as trying to attract attention to myself. I cover my head because I think I should, period. I have no "emotional" reasons for doing so. I'm just not willing to assume that St. Paul was merely addressing an abuse. But that's another matter...
Please be assured that not all, probably not even most, of the women you see with veils are judging you. I, for one, can say with complete honesty that I think most, if not all of the women who attend Mass with me are much holier than I am (I am incredibly blessed in the parish I am apart of), and there is not one other woman who covers her head. To think that some of them may think that the above quote applies to me...but I won't think that, because I know how hurtful it can be when we assume we know what others are thinking...

Maria

Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man. -Psalm 42

Psalm 42 was my inspiration for wearing a veil. Like others have mentioned, I, too, believe the veil is an outward sign of bearing witness to the Catholic faith.

As a female college student it can be hard to go against the masses. When I wear my chapel veil I differentiate and distinguish myself from my peers, in a manner which is neither superior nor inferior, simply a distinguished one.

On a particular Catholic college campus, where most of the Sisters do not wear habits, Feminism (in a secular sense) reigns supreme, and the Vagina Monologues are viewed as empowerment, one can see how the simple act of wearing a veil during Mass reflects a Catholic identity of which I (try to) hold true to the doctrines of the Catholic faith. An identity not of secular ideals or Feminism.

Clavem Abyssi

One doesn't need a veil to be a bride, of course. Men are called to become "brides", too. Although we don't wear veils, we are instructed by our fellow females who display this bride imagery in a more tangible way (and not just with the veil). I think this is what Fr.Z meant when he said he appreciated seeing mantillas at his Masses - women can display this aspect of being a Christian in a far better way than men can, and we appreciate seeing this.

It is not easy for men to love Jesus in a tender, intimate way, that, I think, comes easier to women, and this is so essential, especially for priests. We need women to learn this from. Too often what I see is not men and women enriching, teaching and completing each other, but the sexes adopting each other's spiritual flaws.

Head-coverings are really a very, very small part of this. People are rightly annoyed by people who think their pet devotions are the cure for the whole Church. My only advice would be to not make a big fuss about it, as if it were a revolution. Start wearing it at smaller, quieter services, Holy Hour, etc... Take care to dress plainly to avoid the charge of hypocrisy. Speak simply and cheerfully about it - highlight the simple, positive reasons you wear it, if asked. If you're defensive about it and retort with lofty and sweeping reasons, you'll come across as condescending and judgmental. Remember, although Paul's words carry a lot of weight, the living magisterium has the final say, and it has ruled that head-coverings are optional, so fidelity and obedience are not issues. But I think people will respect your wearing it if you have some simple and positive reasons, like: "It helps me pray", "It helps me concentrate on God" or "I feel like a bride wearing it".

Therese

A friend asked me to read this site and comment. I didn't want to, but then decided to post my reasons for not wanting to post ...in the words of women who oppose the veil, I don't hear humility and sweetness. Their attitudes towards us who do don a veil seem to carry a built-in pejorative, if not a streak of anger. I am not saying all humble, holy women want to wear veils, nor am I saying all women who wear veils are humble and holy (I'm not...sadly); but the ones I hear opposing the veil don't sound gentle. They sound tough, sometimes judgmental. I find myself diffident before them, unable to share the delicate graces that moved me to start covering my head in church. I can't see why anyone would oppose the veil...it's so beautiful.

gsk

Veritas says:

"[I] cannot think of a better reason to wear a chapel veil to Mass than that! Precisely because it evangelizes piety. It is the symbol of piety (and purity) a woman is called to uphold as part and parcel with her inherent dignity."

Bingo: here lies the rub. We sincerely disagree about the evangelisation aspect. I don't think it's good "PR." In fact that's been my main point all along: that it will alienate more women than it will draw.

Now if you could show me a theological reason why I should -- because "evangelisation" is not a theological reason, that's different. Nor have you shown me the connexion above that it's a "symbol of purity" beyond our conditioning, but if that reason presents itself, then the "PR" aspect would be irrelevant.

My dear Therese, since I seem to be the only one questioning the meaning of the veil, your comment must be directed to me. Please accept my apologies for my lack of "sweetness and humility." I simply want answers to what I think is an legitimate intellectual query. There are all sorts of personalities, and yet I think we really could enjoy a cup of tea together!

Veritas

I think others have advanced decent arguments, so I won't repeat them. I will add, however, that I don't think this issue requires the deep-seated, hihgly nuanced theological treastise you seem to demand.

Plus, I don't think your "culturally conditioned" argument flies. If we 'go there,' then we cannot say with any certainty that specific forms of music are objectively beautiful, or that certain forms of art are likewise. Everything is reduced to subjectivism or dismissed as a mere byproduct of 'cultural conditioning.'

The veil remains a part of our tradition, even if it is no longer a part of our law. Its roots are Biblical (as others have pointed out). Such "cultural conditioning" carries enough historical weight to suggest that the symbolism of the veil is established not by OUR conditioning, but an objective basis. After all, isn't that what we mean by "tradition?" A thought. Beyond that, because it is part of our tradition, I would like to think all Catholics would embrace it or, in the very least, certainly not turn sour to those who do. Che sfortuna!

anonymous

At my local church some people receive communion in the hand and some directly on the tongue. I have witnessed great piety with either practice. Both are acceptable and welcomed.

I see veils in a similar light: it is a question of personal preference(and I don't feel that I need to know why or why not one may choose to wear one.) Until the Church informs me otherwise, I welcome both practices with little consternation.

Maureen

The thing is, I don't think most people mind the basic idea of "It's church custom to wear head clothing during Mass". What's disconcerting is this insistence that doing otherwise is immodest. Um, no. If it were immodest in church, it would be immodest to go uncovered in the street. (It ain't. And Christian theology is not consonant with the Koran.) It's supposed to be a positive custom of formality, not a negative custom of hiding women and making them less scary or less prideful or less something.

Let us imagine a different commandment: "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service." Let us imagine that some kind of break occurred, and men went shirtless for forty years. When shirts start coming back in, for some reason they think "shirt" only applies to Hawaiian shirts. Mass is filled with men in flowered shirts, and men write articles explaining the mystical meaning of the hortus on their shirts. It represents Eden. It represents the gardens of the New Jerusalem at the end of time. It represents St. Joseph's lily of purity. Etc.

Now, there'd be nothing wrong with wearing a Hawaiian shirt to fulfill the commandment, or even with congregations deciding that they liked Hawaiian shirts. But anybody who knew that there were other kinds of shirts out there, which possibly would be more appropriate and were certainly at least as good as well as more traditional... well, those men would be more than a little nonplussed by the insistence of many members of the Hawaiian shirt brigade that all shirts = light fabric and colorful flower patterns.

lindsay

Don't you think it is important, though, to be *more* modest in Church than on the street or in other places? I certainly wouldn't wear the same attire to Church as I do the beach.

Plus, to say covering ones head is *more* modest isn't to say that not covering one's head is *immodest.* For most of Western civilization, the custom was that women cover their head whenever leaving their home--it was considered immodest not to do so. Today that wouldn't be the case, but it seems safe to assert that some forms of dress are *more* modest than others that are not necessarily *immodest.*

I can see the Hawaiian shirt argument if people are insisting you wear a lace mantilla to mass and nothing else counts, but head coverings in general...idk. It would never be okay for Catholic men to just stop wearing shirts (I assume you are not equating the two), and I would have to say that a Hawaiin one that they have attached extra meaning to is better than no shirt at all.

Mary

Hi, I've been wearing a veil to church for the past 6 months because it helps me remember where I am and what I'm doing. Also, I do belief it's a sign of submission and obedience to the natural order of things, as well as a reminder of the need for humility. Yet, I don't judge anyone else for not doing or believing so.

Only two other women veil at my church, so when they're not there I'm the only one.No one has commented negatively and the older men are fascinated by it becuase they still remember when women customarily veiled. I wear it in every church I go to, and yes, I have received stares and surprised looks,but it also reminds me to be friendly and open to others so they don't go away with the impression that I'm trying to one up them spiritually. Who am I to judge their hearts anyway?

I have been drawn to dressing more modestly (yes, for me it does mean longer skirts and dresses) and covering my hair outside of church too,but I am more concerned about being taken for a Muslimah than sticking out at church. To a certain extent, this is between me and God, not the parishioners.

Tony

I cannot think of a just reason why it’s honourable for a woman to cover her head but not a man.

So "justice" dictates that we dress alike in church? Men are required to remove their head coverings during Mass.

The fact that it's not required makes it that much more dramatic to see a woman in a mantilla. It strikes me just as the habit, franciscan robe, or clerical collar. It telegraphs to the world in a very public way that you are dedicated to God.

And as those who wear clerical garb can privately dishonor the office for which they are dressed, those who wear mantillas may not be privately perfect. However the wearing of the mantilla provides a powerful witness to those around them.

gsk

Tony: are you being willfully obtuse? No one is suggesting androgynous dress or vocations, but the question concerns objective humility. Why do women have to humble themselves before God in this specific way but not men? Is it the nature of their collective sin or the gravity?

And further, I asked, who dictates that a mantilla indicates total dedication to God? I submit it is an historically-bound construct containing within it a particular code. You simply restated the construct and what it meant to you, without justifying it through an outside impersonal source.

Kell Brigan

"(Believe me, I’m no feminist. I just addressed the international congress in Rome on Mulieris Dignitatem.)"

But, the Mulieris IS a feminist document. (This is a good thing.) Anyway...


Why I'm strongly drawn to wearing a chapel cap in Mass:

* a strong part of my east coast Irish Catholic upbringing. I'm 49 and recently reverted, but can't shake the feeling that if I walk into Mass without a chunk of lace on my head I'll turn into a piller of salt before reaching the pew.

* to honor St. Veronica, who had the chutzpah to show some kindness to a tortured convict en route to being executed, even though she didn't know what his "crime" was, and even though he was surrounded by a bunch of Roman bruisers. What's not to love?

* head coverings, schmed coverings. It's just a symbol, but no less than a symbol (she said, paraphrasing Robert Price, who's a nice guy even if he thinks he's an atheist). Jewish men cover out of respect, but women don't (except in their "home" temple). Priests sometimes wear head coverings depending upon situation and rank. Women traditionally cover in Catholic churches. I'm attracted to the idea of showing respect. Since the tradition does not involve, say, painting purple flowers on my nose (Hm. Maybe for Advent...), but, instead, tossing lace on my head, I'm thinking of doing that.

* It does help me concentrate. There is power in this, but, to me, it has to do with being a pious woman, and has nothing whatsoever with embracing myths of male dominance. (As I understand the prior Pope's instruction, embracing "male dominance" is comparable to embracing murder, since they're both unfortunate results of Original Sin and specifically NOT God's will.)

* Wearing a chapel cap is a rebuttal, in a culture heck-bent on pushing the idea that gender is only a "cultural construction."

* A chapel cap is different than a veil, i.e. I would be just as visible to anybody who cares to look at me, and whether or not other people are looking at me I care not a whit. In other words, it's an action between me and God, not something involving other people and their opinions or hang ups. Also, a cap is less obtrusive and noticeable, i.e. less controversial and/or less an act of vanity.


What bugs me about it:

*some people, including some quite creepy people, seem to think that wearing lace on my head means I agree with their fundamentalist interpretation of Ephesians, i.e. that married women have to obey their husbands, or that the husband is somehow the sole or primary "decision maker" in a couple. Uh, NO. Ephesians was about people in all sorts of roles (slaves, masters, husbands, wives, parents, kids) treating each other decently. It wasn't a commentary on whether or not those roles were legitimate, but solely an admission to not be an abusive jerk regardless of what our current role happens to be. And, there's that caveat that God ultimately doesn't care about those roles because we're all equal in God's eyes.)

Short version: I'm really tired of both Catholic (and other) fundamentalists AND radical feminists presuming to get all false-dichotomy on me, and telling me that I have only two choices, i.e. either female slave or androgyny. I DEMAND THE THIRD ALTERNATIVE.

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    Comments

    • From Benedict XVI
      “People have realized that the complete removal of the feminine element from the Christian message is a shortcoming from an anthropological viewpoint. It is theologically and anthropologically important for woman to be at the center of Christianity."
    • Anger and Patrimony (from Donna)
      This is just another of the unintended consequences of the cultural acceptance of contraception and abortion! Men's sexuality has been robbed of its creative essence. It is now viewed as something that imposes a burden on women (when conception happens to occur), something used to control women or something that is purely recreational. Why would men bother?? In taking away their responsibility, we've also robbed them of their significance! In the big picture of humanity, men have been made into nothing more than a nuisance women have to figure out how to control in order to bring about the next generation. Men don't see it as their task to protect the vulnerable because they see themselves as the vulnerable ones. A few well preserved vials of sperm would make men entirely obsolete in the world's ethos today!!
    • Excellent, Dom! (from Teresa)
      That is astounding Robin, and good for you for standing up. At the heart of that matter, I think, is even worse than a gender mixing message. There is an increased sharper and sharper focus on the "self." Solid Catholic teaching returns our focus away from ourselves to Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The original sin, Eve denied her womanhood when she desired to be like "gods." Since the only god she knew was the Father. Where was Adam? He stood impotent... in other words, they were divorced. There's a young girl at Robin's son's high school who was just told that she is the center of the universe and it's a tragic disservice to her.
    • Find the logic (from "me")
      Ditto what Mary said! A lot of high schools have very poor math and science depts, for boys and girls. I also am educated as a chemical engineer, but chose to teach the two years before we had children because its hours were more suited to spending time with children. (I was looking ahead). When it came time and I was pregnant with our first, I realized that I did not want to leave him with someone else, and was able to stay home full time. I am not sure it would have been that easy if we were used to another engineering income and not just a private school teacher income. Also some of my first job offers were out on oil rigs - I had no interest in that at all even though I enjoyed my engineering classes and did well in them. No one discouraged me from an engineering job, on the contrary I got a lot of flack for my decision not to pursue an engineering career.
    • Find the logic (from Mary)
      I've been lurking, but this is one that irritates me. Beats the heck out of me what these "barriers" are. I was educated as a chemical engineer, where 1/3 of our class was women. However, in electrical engineering, only 1 or 2 out of 30 were women. Is it possible that women are Just Not Interested in some areas? Nah, it must be The Man keeping us down so we must legislate (and, I agree -- when they say "legistlate", I hear "quota"). And actually, I have a friend that was also a chemical engineer. When she lost her job, she decided not to go back into engineering and started working from home so she could spend more time with her 3 kids. Also, if nothing else, there are all kinds of incentives for women to enter science and engineering -- scholarships not available to men, guaranteed housing on campuses that do not guarantee housing to the general population, etc. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that schools in general are not preparing students for the hard sciences. It is truly a sad state of affairs, the lack of science education these days.

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