Go, Carl!

Letters of Note is "an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos." This one is a letter from astronomer Carl Sagan, regarding the admission of women into The Explorers Club. It was written after "IBM's withdrawal of support due to the organisation's continued exclusion of women within its ranks," in ... (get this!) 1981. Eighty-one. Not fifty-one, 1981.

So much could be said about this. But I'll just post the last two paragraphs, and the link to the letter itself.

The supposed parallelism between our situation and those of other organizations seems to me strained. The Bohemian Club is a resort; The Explorers Club is not. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are for children. Their membership derives almost exclusively from adolescent and pre-adolescent youngsters, who have not yet fully accomodated to the opposite sex. But we presumably are adults, with a special responsibility for interacting with all humans on this planet.

I do not believe that the primary function of our organization is to promote male bonding or to serve as a social club -- although there is certain room for both. I believe that the fundamental dedication of the club is that stated on the masthead of every issue of The Explorers Club Newsletter: "To the conquest of the unknown and the advancement of knowledge." If this is our purpose, then admission should be open to all qualified members of the human species.

Carl Sagan

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