Scott Yenor, a political science professor at Boise State University, is facing backlash on social media for statements made in his speech in October at the annual National Conservatism Conference.
“Our independent women seek their purpose in life in midlevel bureaucratic jobs like human resource management, environmental protection, and marketing. They’re more medicated, meddlesome, and quarrelsome than women need to be,” Yenor said in a portion of his speech at the conference.
The conference took place in Orlando, Florida, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, and included keynote speakers such as Republican U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
Yenor’s comments went viral after they were posted on TikTok by the user @sociallstlyawkward.
Last week, BSU’s Director of Media Relations Mike Sharp issued the following statement on Yenor’s speech:
“Boise State University understands that the open exchange of ideas, which is fundamental to education, can introduce uncomfortable and even offensive ideas. However, the university cannot infringe upon the First Amendment rights of any members of our community, regardless of whether we, as individual leaders, agree or disagree with the message. No single faculty member defines what Boise State — or any public university — endorses or stands for,” Sharp’s statement said.
“Recently, academic freedom has faced challenges in universities around the country,” the university’s statement continued. “We stand fully in support of academic freedom. Academic freedom is the bedrock of the university and higher education, and our faculty hold a wide range of opinions and perspectives. As noted by our governing Board, ‘Academic freedom is essential to protect the rights of the faculty member in teaching and the student in learning.’ As such, academic freedom will be protected within the governing policies of the Idaho State Board of Education and Boise State University. We aim to facilitate non-violent and free expression that allows for true and open engagement with ideas — in support or in critique of a position — and that results in deeper learning and growth for all.”
Sharp’s statement continued: “We welcome all people to our campus, regardless of their background, experiences, or identity. Members of the Boise State community who have questions about the intersection of academic freedom, free speech, and harassment or who would like to file a complaint alleging a violation of law or policy, can contact Institutional Compliance and Ethics. If students at any time feel they are experiencing discrimination because of their viewpoints, background, or any distinguishing characteristic, we have robust processes, including our academic grievance policy and our nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policy, which protect students’ rights. Boise State takes these concerns very seriously and implements corrective action when appropriate.”
When asked on Monday, BSU did not have an update on Yenor’s standing at the university. According to Idaho Education News, Yenor was hired at the university in 2000 and is a tenured professor.
According to his bio on the Boise State University website, Yenor is a resident of Meridian. He earned his Ph.D. from Loyola University, Chicago in 2000 and his bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1993.
Also on Monday, Yenor did not respond to a request for comment from the Idaho Press.
Yenor’s Twitter account, where he also posted the video, was created in April. One of the first posts is a link to a piece he wrote in The American Mind. The article, titled, “Miserable Women, Purposeless Men,” takes issue with what Yenor describes as the elimination of differences between men and women and the abolition of family.
Later that month, Yenor sat down with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. Yenor decried the “independence of feminism” which he said does not make people happy.
Additionally, this is not Yenor’s first controversy. He made headlines in 2017 after he wrote an article called “Transgender Activists Are Seeking to Undermine Parental Rights” in The Daily Signal, a conservative site. Over 2,000 people signed a petition to fire Yenor according to the Daily Caller, a conservative site started in part by Carlson.
Yenor also has ties to the far-right Idaho Freedom Foundation.
He partnered with the Idaho Freedom Foundation to work on an account of social justice indoctrination in colleges. A report released earlier this year found no indoctrination at Boise State.
In May, Yenor and the Freedom Foundation’s education policy director wrote an op-ed together for Newsweek.
The events of the past week have impacted some Boise State students and faculty.
Boise State Visual Arts Student Amanda Kathan hasn’t had Yenor as a professor, but said she was disappointed to hear what he said about women pursuing careers in STEM, law and the medical field.
“It is also disappointing to see Boise State University hire a professor, like Yenor, teaching students, especially women, with that kind of mindset and belief system when those career paths are already male dominated,” Kathan said in a text to the Idaho Press.
Political Science Assistant Professor Julie VanDusky-Allen wrote on Twitter that nothing had prepared her for the situation.
“How am I supposed to go back to work knowing that someone who is directly responsible for evaluating my tenure profile thinks women shouldn’t be working and thinks working women are meddlesome and quarrelsome?” she wrote.
Pocatello native Katie Kelshaw, who graduated from Boise State in 2020 with a Master’s in Police Science, said men and women had different experiences in Yenor’s classes. As an undergraduate, Kelshaw took a required intro to political philosophy with Yenor.
Yenor never gave her constructive criticism or feedback on how she engaged with the material, Kelshaw said. After taking the class, she started her senior capstone and had trouble with the political philosophy aspect.
“It kind of sent me into a bit of a spiral,” Kelshaw said. “I was thinking ‘I’m about to graduate, I’m about to get a Master’s degree. How come I don’t understand...am I just a bad student?’”
Kelshaw talked to other students and said other women told her they also didn’t learn anything in Yenor’s class. But male students told her Yenor had challenged them and went to bat for them.
Yenor is controversial, but what he said was “beyond the pale,” Kelshaw said.
Kelshaw saw VanDusky-Allen’s Tweet, but she’s hoping the comments don’t stop there.
“I’m really hoping some of my male professors also come out and comment on how that’s not the attitude of Boise State,” Kelshaw said. “It’s one thing to have a woman say that feminism is great but we also need men out there saying that feminism is worthwhile.”