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  1. #1
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    “A woman’s place is in the kitchen” Sudha Murthy reminisces


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    “A woman’s place is in the kitchen”: My experience as the only girl in an engineering college in the ’60s

    My mind went back to 1968. I was a seventeen-year-old girl with an abundance of courage, confidence and the dream to become an engineer. I came from an educated, though middle-class, conservative Brahmin family. My father was a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology in Karnataka Medical College at Hubli, while my mother was a schoolteacher before she got married. I finished my pre-university exams with excellent marks and told my family that I wanted to pursue engineering. I had always been fascinated with science, even more so with its application. Engineering was one of those branches of science that would allow me to utilize my creativity, especially in design. But it was as if I had dropped a bomb inside our house.
    The immediate reaction was of shock. Engineering was clearly an all-male domain and hence considered a taboo for girls in those days.

    I filled out the application form for BVB College of Engineering and Technology, submitted it and soon received the news that I had been selected to the college on the basis of my marks. I was ecstatic, but little did I know that the college staff was discomfited by this development. The principal at the time was BC Khanapure, who happened to know my father. They both met at a barber shop one day and the principal expressed his genuine anguish at what he perceived to be an awkward situation. He told my father, “Doctor Sahib, I know that your daughter is very intelligent and that she has been given admission only because of merit, but I’m afraid we have some problems. She will be the only girl in college. It is going to be difficult for her. First, we don’t have a ladies’ toilet on campus. We don’t have a ladies’ room for her to relax either. Second, our boys are young with raging hormones and I am sure that they will trouble her. They may not do anything in front of the staff but they will definitely do something later. They may not cooperate with her or help her because they are not used to talking to girls. As a father of four daughters, I am concerned about yours too. Can you tell her to change her mind for her own sake?”

    My first day of college arrived a month later. I wore a white sari for the first time, touched the feet of all the elders at home and prayed to Goddess Saraswati who had been very kind to me. I then made my way to the college. As soon as I reached, the principal called me and gave me a key. He said, “Here, Ms Kulkarni, take this. This is the key of a tiny room in the corner of the electrical engineering department on the second floor. You can use this room whenever you want.” I thanked him profusely, took the key and immediately went to see the room. I opened the door excitedly, but alas! The room had two broken desks and there was no sign of a toilet. It was so dusty that I could not even consider entering it. Seeing me there, a cleaner came running with a broom in his hand. Without looking at me, he said, “I’m so sorry. Principal Sahib told me yesterday that a girl student was going to join the college today, but I thought that he was joking. So I didn’t clean the room. Anyway, I will do it right now.” After he had finished cleaning, I still felt that the room was dusty. Calmly, I told him, “Leave the broom here and give me a wet cloth, please. I will clean the room myself.” After cleaning the room to my satisfaction, I brushed off the dust on my clothes and went to class.
    When I entered the room on the ground floor, there were 149 pairs of eyes staring at me as though I were some kind of an exotic animal. It was true though. I was the one hundred and fiftieth animal in this zoo! I knew that some of them wanted to whistle but I kept a straight face and looked around for a place to sit. The first bench was empty. As I was about to sit there, I saw that someone had spilt blue ink right in the middle of the seat. This was obviously meant for me. I felt tears threatening to spill over, but I blinked them away. Making use of the newspaper in my hand, I wiped the seat clean and sat on a corner of the bench.



    https://qz.com/1038178/sudha-murthy-...ampaign=buffer
  2. #2
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    I also did engg when there were few girls in the class -about 3 in a class of about 30.

    Though initially they had issues with dealing with boys and kept aloof, later a kind of bond developed between them and boys.

    They bonded and helped them out in Mechanical workshops, lent assignments, drawings for copying like male students.

    Class Boys were protective about them within the campus.

    Two of them later married their classmates later.

    [the third one married her boss after she got a job.lol]

    All this talk of non acceptability by class mates is pure bullshit.
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  4. #3
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    In early 70s, I did my masters in Maths in P S G Arts college. In our class, we were 6 girls and 14 boys.

    One girl was married and later on 'carried' and delivered a bonny boy baby, months before the final exam!

    We were all friendly with one another but none of us had any lavvu story!
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  6. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by krish44 View Post
    I also did engg when there were few girls in the class -about 3 in a class of about 30.

    Though initially they had issues with dealing with boys and kept aloof, later a kind of bond developed between them and boys.

    They bonded and helped them out in Mechanical workshops, lent assignments, drawings for copying like male students.

    Class Boys were protective about them within the campus.

    Two of them later married their classmates later.

    [the third one married her boss after she got a job.lol]

    All this talk of non acceptability by class mates is pure bullshit.

    You are right. This girl had complexes.
    I joined Engg college in 1963, and we had 3 girls in a batch of 150 students.
    The girl's hostel was in a separate campus. They were housed in staff quarters.
    One was from Tamil Nadu, one from Shimla, and the third from Panjab.
    They had their life, they traveled with the boys in all off campus projects.
    I am friends (FB) with one of them even to this date.
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  8. #5
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    LOL!

    I once worked in a small town district hospital where there were 6 male doctors and just me as the only female.

    Never felt any problem.

    When I was an intern the on call room had 2 beds for doctors on call to sleep if they get a chance to sleep.

    So at times room had to be shared by both male and female docs..we used to be so tired that sometimes didnt even care or know who or what was sleeping on the next bed.
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