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Home / Commentary / A guest opinion on Scott Yenor’s comments 

A guest opinion on Scott Yenor’s comments 

By now Boise State University professor Scott Yenor’s misogynous remarks at a far-right gathering in Florida have been widely publicized, criticized and, no doubt, applauded in extremist circles. 

photo of rod gramer

Rod Gramer

“Our independent women seek their purpose in life in mid-level bureaucratic jobs like human resource management, environmental protection and marketing,” he told the audience. “They’re more medicated, meddlesome and quarrelsome than women need to be.” 

That was awful, but it was another comment that probably elicited a big I-can’t-believe-he-said-that reaction from Idaho’s employers. “Every effort must be made not to recruit women into engineering, but rather to recruit and demand more of men who become engineers. Ditto for med school. And the law and every trade.” 

Sitting in his cozy office, clearly detached from reality, Yenor hasn’t noticed that we face an acute labor shortage across the country. You can’t go anywhere in Idaho without seeing “help wanted” signs. This labor shortage threatens our economic prosperity. 

Given this crisis, it is startling that a tenured college professor would sell the foolish idea of removing 50% of the working-age population from the labor force and relegate them to having babies and waiting on men.  

Yenor apparently hasn’t noticed that Idaho has more engineering jobs open than candidates to fill them, including 3,500 last month, according to an Emsi Burning Glass report. Nor does he realize that Idaho faces the largest shortage of doctors per capita in the country. 

And here’s where Yenor’s torturous thinking really comes home to roost. Women now make up 60% of all the students enrolled in higher education and the number of men enrolling in college is falling like a rock. 

In fact, on his own campus women out-number men 15,015 to 10,778 or 58% to 42%. Across Idaho’s eight postsecondary institutions this fall, there are 12,494 more women enrolled than men.  

In short, demographics are not on Yenor’s side. Women are getting educated and too many men are not. It is highly likely that Yenor will live long enough to see women holding more top jobs in business, politics, engineering, law and, to his chagrin, academics. Already many of Idaho’s hospitals, utilities, corporations, media, nonprofits and colleges are led by women.  

Furthermore, these women balance successful careers with happy marriages and families and will continue to do so as their leadership ranks swell. 

It is true that we need more men to step up and get the education necessary to fill the jobs our economy needs. But the way to get more men skilled up isn’t by tearing down women who are improving their lives through education. 

Yenor may survive behavior that would have instantly landed him in the unemployment line if he were in the private sector. But he will lose his war on women because our nation needs their intelligence and talent.  

— Rod Gramer is the president and CEO of Idaho Business for Education. 


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One comment

  1. This commentary is dishonest and consideration of Mr. Gramer’s unstated assumptions reveals he has not understood of Prof. Yenor’s argument.

    First, it is dishonest to claim that Yenor advocates “removing 50% of the working-age population from the labor force…” Not wanting to encourage women to pursue certain career fields is not equivalent to trying to ban them from the labor force.

    Immediately after this dishonest claim, Mr. Gramer tells us that being a full-time wife and mother is a “relegation.” That’s obviously not Yenor’s word nor his viewpoint. So here we see who the real misogynist is. It’s not Prof. Yenor who believes being a wife and mother is a noble and fulfilling calling and an elevation, not a relegation, from a career. Rather the misogynist is Mr. Gramer who believes giving birth, something only women can do, is a relegation and of lower value than a career.

    And therein the unstated assumption underlying the commentary is manifest. A woman’s value is in her contribution to the economy according to Mr. Gramer, not in quintessentially feminine traits like the ability to bring a new life into the world. If Prof. Yenor’s critics want to truly engage his arguments, they need to make an explicit argument that a career is more valuable than being a mother. They would also need to refute the data he cites showing that pursuit of a career is more likely to lead to women delaying or foregoing family formation. The fact that no critics actually respond to these points suggests they cannot.