Shanghai University Wants More Men to Learn Foreign Languages

Here’s a twist. Shanghai International Studies University, known for its foreign language programs, wants to admit more male students because it believes men ultimately are better poised for jobs requiring foreign language skills. Studies have indicated that women are better than men in learning languages but is it right for this Chinese university to discriminate against female enrollment? Would it have made an effort to balance the gender discrepancy had males dominated those programs? Doubtful. The point is that both male and female students should be allowed access to these (and all other university) programs! Everyone who wishes to learn a foreign language for whatever reason must be allowed to do so. No excuses and no discriminatory policies!!

Here’s the article reprinted by shaghaiist.com, July 18, 2012:

You’re a leading tertiary institution where male student admissions are becoming, in your own mind, embarrassingly low. What do you do? Why, engage in a little affirmative action for the boys of course! That’s what Shanghai International Studies University, one of China’s top universities for the learning of foreign languages, has just done. This academic year, it has begun to accept male students with lower entrance exam scores than women for a few non-English majors, including Arabic, Hebrew, Korean, Ukrainian and Russian.

While lawyers and feminists are decrying the university’s blatant gender discrimination, the university says it has good reasons to justify its new policy. Via Shanghai Daily:

“Many firms or organizations are in great need of male workers with a good command of foreign languages to work overseas,” said Wang Binhua, an official with the university’s admissions department.

In some Arabic-speaking countries, people are more accustomed to do business with men instead of women, the university said.

Many firms employ only male graduates majoring in languages spoken by a small number of people for their overseas positions, he said.

“But only a very small number of men are interested in learning foreign languages,” he said. Men account for less than 20 percent of the students at the university.

The imbalanced gender structure also causes trouble for women graduates in the job market while giving men an edge.

To change the situation, the university set up male quota in some majors involving languages spoken by a very small number of people. The policy won the approval of the Ministry of Education.

You’re a leading tertiary institution where male student admissions are becoming, in your own mind, embarrassingly low. What do you do? Why, engage in a little affirmative action for the boys of course! That’s what Shanghai International Studies University, one of China’s top universities for the learning of foreign languages, has just done. This academic year, it has begun to accept male students with lower entrance exam scores than women for a few non-English majors, including Arabic, Hebrew, Korean, Ukrainian and Russian.
While lawyers and feminists are decrying the university’s blatant gender discrimination, the university says it has good reasons to justify its new policy. Via Shanghai Daily:
“Many firms or organizations are in great need of male workers with a good command of foreign languages to work overseas,” said Wang Binhua, an official with the university’s admissions department.
In some Arabic-speaking countries, people are more accustomed to do business with men instead of women, the university said.
Many firms employ only male graduates majoring in languages spoken by a small number of people for their overseas positions, he said.
“But only a very small number of men are interested in learning foreign languages,” he said. Men account for less than 20 percent of the students at the university.
The imbalanced gender structure also causes trouble for women graduates in the job market while giving men an edge.
To change the situation, the university set up male quota in some majors involving languages spoken by a very small number of people. The policy won the approval of the Ministry of Education.

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