Dennis Lamm, dean of the university’s agricultural sciences department, apologized for comments he made earlier this month to the Denver Post that some accused of being sexist.
“I shouldn’t have said what I said – I let my wife read the article and she agreed,” Lamm said in an interview with the Collegian on Tuesday. “But the last thing I am is sexist, and I would challenge anyone who knows me well to say so.”
Lamm was interviewed for a Jan. 16 story exploring the expanding role of women in Colorado’s agricultural industry.
In the article, Lamm explained that with such fierce competition to get into vet school, many women who do not make the cut pursue equine sciences as a second option.
The dean was quoted as saying “some (women) have no idea what they want to do when they graduate.they just want to be around horses.”
Lamm also stated that many women will take jobs with lower salaries than men, and that many women have the financial backing of parents to take such low salaries.
Comments like these caused concern among CSU’s female agricultural students.
“I think it’s unfortunate that someone in that high of a position in the animal sciences department voiced that kind of opinion of his students,” said Dana Alexander, a senior agricultural business major. Alexander is pursuing agricultural business as her first choice.
“The article made me feel undervalued as a woman in this department who is pursuing ag business as a first option,” she said. “But that’s not my general and lasting feeling.”
Lamm’s daughter, Dana, a CSU alumna, agreed that what her father said was “inappropriate.”
But she rejected any accusations of sexism.
Lamm stated that, due to the disproportionate number of women in equine sciences, he generalized all equine science students as women. Lamm admitted that generalizing all equine science students was a “big mistake.”
There are 385 women and 85 men in the equine science department, and 448 women to 275 men in the animal sciences department as a whole.
Lamm said his quotes were slightly warped by the authors of the Denver Post article.
“They didn’t mention that I also said CSU’s animal sciences students are some of the brightest at the university, in the upper echelon. Their SAT scores are second only to the engineering department,” Lamm said. “I don’t think that information fit in to the agenda of their article.”
Lamm also refuted any accusations that he believes women should take lower-paying salaries.
“I don’t think women should accept lower salaries, and neither should men,” he said. “But from my observations over the years, it comes down to numbers. Not everybody is going to find that ultimate job that pays really well.”
He cited a 2006 CSU College of Agricultural Sciences graduate extension study.
According to the survey, of 152 equine sciences alumni, only 32 percent were ever employed in the equine industry and almost 62 percent were not currently employed in the equine industry.
“Not everybody is motivated by money or a career path,” Lamm said. “Sometimes you just have to do what you love. That’s all I was trying to say.”
Staff writer Hilary Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.