‘Sexist’ comparison between e-mails and skirts slammed by DU students, professors

A chapter in a book on business communication by author CB Gupta describes e-mail etiquette by comparing it with girls’ skirt. The example went viral and has been getting flak.

education Updated: Jun 16, 2017 18:41 IST
Nikita Saxena
Nikita Saxena
Hindustan Times
CB Gupta,Business Communication,Delhi University
A picture of the line from the book, Business Communication by CB Gupta.

E-mail messages should be like skirts — short enough to be interesting and long enough to cover all the vital points.” Does the analogy irk you? The line is from a book — written by former Shri Ram College of Commerce professor CB Gupta — that’s often used by professors to teach business communication to sixth- semester students in Delhi University. The comparison recently went viral on social media, and has been drawing flak for being “inappropriate” and “sexist”.

Raghuvendra Singh, a final-year B. Com (Hons) student at Hans Raj College, says, “It’s plain sexism. Such examples give others the confidence to use pathetic ideas in the domain of education, and that just beats the whole point of education. Publishers should make sure that such content doesn’t see the light of day.”

Professors, too, agree that such content should not be promoted. Rama Sharma, principal of Hans Raj College, doesn’t want teachers in her college to recommend the book to students. “I’m not sure if professors are referring to the book, but if they are, I’ll ask them to stop. I’m against the use of such language in a book, as it promotes wrong ideas in the minds of the students.” JP Mahajan, associate professor, Commerce Department, Kirori Mal College, also condemns descriptions like these in a book used to teach students.

“The author could have used any example; why did he have to use one about a girl’s skirt?” says a livid Shachi Yadav, guest faculty member at Faculty of Management Studies. “I don’t know why a girl’s modesty is always dragged into various scenarios,” she adds.

A college principal, wishing not to be named says that sometimes people end up using the wrong example without realising it. “What one wants to convey and what they end up implying has to be in sync. Aaj kal anyway sabka mind galat direction mein hi chalta hai,” she says.

Some others argue that if teachers do ask students to refer to the book, then it’s not for such analogies but its content which is pertinent to the subject. “We are professors, we have to refer to a lot of books and we always try to pick up the positive points,” says Sonal Gupta, assistant professor, Commerce Department, Hans Raj College. She adds, “One shouldn’t think that if there’s such a line, the book shouldn’t be referred to at all. Professors can ask students to ignore such examples and refrain from using them in exams.”

What does author CB Gupta have to say in his defence? “I’ve already deleted the statement from my book. I’ll also advise the publisher to remove the content before publishing a latest edition. It [the comparison] was not [meant] to hurt anyone. I took the analogy from an article by a foreign author,” he says.

(With inputs from PTI)

First Published: Jun 09, 2017 19:33 IST