I was having dinner with few of my friends who just graduated MIT with me. Since it was the end of spring, we started talking summer plans. I had plans to stay in Boston but two of my female friends happen to be in San Fransisco for summer, interning in tech companies.
What happened next in the conversation really surprised me. The conversation between the female friends immediately steered towards the safety of the neighborhood. “Is that neighborhood safe?” or “Are there lots of sketchy people hanging around in that area?”
I along with couple of my guy friends had just signed a apartment lease in Boston. As men, the issue of “safe neighborhood” did not at all cross our mind while we were looking for housing. All we considered about was “the distance from the nearest bar” or “the distance from nearest T station”. But for their summer internship, my friends had “safety” as primary criteria when looking for an accommodation.
My MIT friends happen to be the most empowered women in the whole world, both socially and financially – they just graduated from the most prestigious university with a degree in computer science and if they can easily enter the work force with minimum of 6 six figures annual salary. But they face a different hostility that I comes just from being a women.
I have walked alone countless many times at night around isolated and sketchy areas of Boston, Cambridge during my MIT years but I never felt unsafe. It never crossed my mind. I think that’s a luxury many women can’t afford to have.
I might be just over thinking here. Every city has safe and sketchy places. I should be more aware about my safety but just the fact that I never considered “safety” as primary criteria during my apartment hunt but my female friends had it as their first criteria speaks something about vast different societies the two sexes experience.