Student Raises Over $120K for Scholarship After Professor's 'Disheartening' Speech About Women

·4 min read

After a professor at Boise State University gave a speech claiming that women should not be recruited to work in engineering, medicine or law, one college student decided to channel her frustration into something positive — and empowering.

Student Ally Orr was shocked by the comments Scott Yenor, a political scientist at the university, made during a speech at the National Conservatism Conference in November 2021.

"How is it 2021 and someone thinks that that's okay as a professor?" Orr tells Gretchen Carlson on Monday's episode of PEOPLE (The TV Show!).

She went on to express disbelief that someone who is "incredibly educated would think to say that and actually believe it."

In his speech, Yenor said that "every effort must be made not to recruit women into engineering, but rather to recruit and demand more of men to become engineers. Ditto for med school and the law and every trade."

"Our independent women seek their purpose in life in mid-level bureaucratic jobs like human resource management, environmental protection, and marketing," he said at another point. "They're more medicated, meddlesome, and quarrelsome than women need to be."

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Orr says that as she is studying marketing, the speech struck a personal chord with her.

"What do you even say to that, when a professor who's supposed to be teaching you says, you being in my classroom or you being in the workforce, you are doing less, like are not helping America move forward?" she says. "And that it's silly for me to go into a career and think that I'll find a purpose there?"

"That felt so disheartening and so frustrating. I mean, college is so expensive. I invested all this money. And so for someone to say, you will find nothing after this investment, that hurts," she adds.

Ally Orr
Ally Orr

Courtesy Ally Orr Ally Orr

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Yenor went on to double down on his remarks in a video posted on his Twitter account.

"When feminists celebrate the revolutionary anger of modern women, they are applauded. When they celebrate their nastiness, they applaud one another. Things must change if this country is to rebuild the family," he said in the video.

Neither Yenor nor Boise State University responded to PEOPLE's request for comment. A university spokesperson previously told The Idaho Statesman that the professor has a right to free speech. The school has also said in a statement that Boise State "has a long tradition of supporting women. We continue to do so across the university."

Orr says that the video "made me even more angry," as it solidified that he "wholeheartedly believed" in the comments he made during the speech.

But a funny thing happened while she was going through the comments on the post: she got an idea.

"I find someone that says, 'Someone should make a scholarship for these students at Boise State,'" she recalls.

For Orr, it was the perfect way to stand up and say "no."

Ally Orr
Ally Orr

Courtesy Ally Orr Ally Orr

To kick things off, Orr sent an email to 600 university staff members, drawing on a very specific line from Yenor's speech for inspiration.

The subject of the message? "Scholarship for medicated, meddlesome and quarrelsome women."

She set up a GoFundMe in December, and its original goal was $10,000 — which was quickly achieved.

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"The first $10,000, it was mostly professors and those that worked at Boise State. And once we hit $25K it was the Boise community," she says, adding that by the time they hit $50K, the web of benefactors had spread to include "parents and friends of students in other states."

The GoFundMe has now raised over $123K — and Orr has officially brought the Women in STEM, Medicine, and Law Scholarship into existence.

Ally Orr
Ally Orr

Courtesy Ally Orr Ally Orr

As for Yenor, Orr says she has "nothing to say" to him.

"He's written books, podcasts, recorded videos about this. There's nothing I can say that could change his mind," she says. "But, if I can fund more women, that goes directly against what he thinks so that's good enough for me."

Orr says she will keep fundraising open indefinitely and all of the remaining funds will be invested into the scholarship so that it can remain at Boise State University in perpetuity.