BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A viral post on Twitter by a University of Maryland student has elicited a response from the university after she shared what some might call misogynistic language in a teaching assistant’s handbook.
Annie Bao, a sophomore TA for the university’s Department of Computer Science, tweeted Monday that the department’s guidance to female TAs told them to expect challenging behavior and to be patient with a mostly male student body.
Straight out of UMD’s handbook for TAs:
Female TAs should expect to have their authority challenged more than males, yet they have to be “patient” and tolerant and constantly have to prove their worth. Why do we accept and normalize this discriminatory behavior? pic.twitter.com/egjuhrOark
— annie (@_anniebao) April 16, 2018
Bao said she’d been struggling with her self confidence for the semester after she felt like she was being challenged more by male students because of her gender.
She wanted her tweet to start a conversation — so women could speak out about the discrimination they feel in some fields.
Bao said she felt alone in what she was feeling and experiencing, but that once she posted about it, other female TAs shared their experiences.
She later tweeted,”Ladies in computer science, in any professional field, you are not inferior. You are competent. You are smart. Your accomplishments are your own, not someone else’s charity case. Shame on anyone who thinks otherwise simply because you are a woman.”
A University of Maryland spokesperson said that the university doesn’t condone the language in the handbook.
Department Chair Ming C. Lin released the following statement in response to Bao’s tweets:
“The TA Handbook posted on the CS website contained highly inappropriate, stereotypical characterizations of women. The handbook has been removed from the site, and we apologize for its offensive contents. While the origin of this handbook is not immediately known, it does not reflect our department’s values or beliefs. We denounce all misogynistic attitudes toward women and will continue to work diligently to provide all students a warm and welcoming environment to learn and succeed.”
Bao said although it was clear the handbook was old, it remained up as a guide for TAs ahead of training and post the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, women shouldn’t have to prepare for this type of behavior.
She believes women shouldn’t fear going into a field like computer science because of discrimination or prejudice they may experience due to their gender and she wants to empower women to speak up if they do.
“We need to work toward a change and a better future,” Bao said.