FAQ

Isn’t the song really just about football? Aren’t you changing the meaning?

The song is sung at Georgia Tech athletic events, including women’s sports. It is also sung at ceremonies such as commencement, and it has taken on a larger meaning as a symbol of the Georgia Tech community for many. Perhaps this does change the meaning, but does this really matter for a spirit song?

Georgia Tech does not discriminate against women. Is that what you are suggesting?

We agree that overt discrimination is by far the exception at Georgia Tech, which has made great strides in advancing gender equity. The entering class of Georgia Tech is now up to 40% women. However, unconscious bias is a well-documented phenomenon. Studies show that both men and women exhibit this bias [1].

This song is a cherished tradition. How can it possibly be changed?

  • During the first 40 years of the song it went from an Irish drinking song, to a civil war song about poverty, to a fight song in Colorado to Georgia Tech, and then GT with an updated, snappier tune. 
  • Many other universities have updated their lyrics to reflect modern roles of women, including West Point and the University of Utah [2]. Religious hymns have also evolved over time. Tradition is good, and can adapt.

This is a faculty-led initiative. Doesn’t the voice of students matter the most?

  • While initiated by faculty, this idea attracted a large number of student signatures. The Georgia Tech SGA vote reported nearly 2500 Georgia Tech students who support the change. While in the minority, these students constitute 25% of the student vote. Future discussions, including the upcoming SGA Townhall Meeting, will provide an opportunity for these voices to be heard.
  • Georgia Tech as an institution is comprised of students, faculty, and staff who all contribute to the excellence and growth of the university. Everyone deserves to have their voice heard, on this and other important issues that cut across constituencies.

Aren’t there more important issues to worry about?

The climate for women at Georgia Tech is of great concern to Georgia Tech [3]. As women students progress through Georgia Tech [4] and into the workforce, they will likely experience accumulating bias due to the “leaky pipeline” of women out of the workforce, especially in technology-related fields [5].

How many signatures are needed before the change will be made official?

This is not a binding petition in any way. The website was created to start an ongoing dialogue about gender inclusion. There is no agreement with Georgia Tech officials about making the proposed change. Alternative proposals can also be suggested. If you like the proposed change, go ahead and start singing the modified version now.

Who is behind this initiative, and where is the website hosted on campus?

This loosely organized initiative is managed as a collaboration between Martha Grover (ChBE), Robert Butera (ECE), Kim Cobb (EAS), and Julia Kubanek (BIO, CHEM). The website is hosted on Georgia Tech Hosting and maintained by the College of Sciences, with the support of Dean Goldbart and the permission of President Peterson.

References

[1] R. Steinpreis, K. Anders, D. Ritzke.  "The Impact of Gender on the Review of Curricula Vita of Job Applicants and Tenure Candidates."  Sex Roles 41 (1999): 509-528.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/257822430_The_Impact_of_Gender_on_the_Review_of_the_Curricula_Vitae_of_Job_Applicants_and_Tenure_Candidates_A_National_Empirical_Study

 

[2] Select examples of lyrics changed to promote inclusion

 

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/05/27/primary-document-lyrics-to-west-point-alma-mater-and-its-companion-piece-corps.html

http://nypost.com/2014/05/07/universities-rethink-fight-songs-to-ban-lyrics/
 

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/university-utah-changes-fight-song-lyrics-man-fan-n147181

http://nj1015.com/rutgers-fight-song-lyrics-go-gender-neutral-did-they-need-to-make-the-change-poll/
 

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2008/05/chief_wants_to_change_lyrics_o.html

 

[3] GT Climate Assessment Survey Report, Jonathan Gordon, September 2013.

 

http://facultygovernance.gatech.edu/GFGFAAS2014-102213-M-Attach1.pdf

 

[4] M. F. Fox, G. Sonnert, and I. Nikiforova. “Successful Programs for Undergraduate Women in Science and Engineering:  Adapting vs. Adopting the Institutional Environment.”  Research in Higher Education 50 (June 2009): 333-353.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225398814_Successful_Programs_for_Undergraduate_Women_in_Science_and_Engineering_Adapting_vs._Adopting_the_Institutional_Environment
 

[5] The summary of the report Beyond Bias and Barriers, authored by several national committees and posted at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11741/beyond-bias-and-barriers-fulfilling-the-potential-of-women-in, points to challenges for women in STEM environments and provides other references.