Students and Teachers Discuss Gender Bias at ERHS

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Students and Teachers Discuss Gender Bias at ERHS

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

Amelia Komisar-Bury, Opinion Editor

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Some members of the Eleanor Roosevelt community have said they noticed that stereotypes about female and male students are leading to Roosevelt’s girls gaining the upper hand in the classroom.

Where as recently as the 1990s research has come out saying that girls were not getting a chance to build their confidence in the classroom, according to sophomore Tori Simmons, that is no longer the case. “I think the girls usually feel more confident [than guys]…  like today we were doing a debate, and there was no guys who came up to do the debate.”

Mr. Troy Bradbury said he has noticed a similar power dynamic in his courses. “The young women in my class control that class.” He has also noticed a population difference in his classes. “More women take Capstone than men…I usually say I’m running 75 to 80% females.”

Ms. Shauna Watson, the 11th grade administrator, has also noticed a gender difference in classrooms. “When I go into, for example, a co-taught or a comprehensive or a special ed class, there’s more males, way more males in that type of class then I would [see] in a honors class for example.” Ms. Watson said she believes that by being socialized to sit still and pay attention, young girls then have an easier time succeeding academically. “If you are in a class, and you are sitting there and you are paying attention to the teacher, you are getting more information, you are going to learn more, you are more likely to be placed in honors classes.”  

Ms. Michelle McGee, who teaches both honors and co-taught English courses, said she has noticed that her co-taught classes do seem to have more male students than her other courses. Where her honors and comprehensive courses have a pretty equivalent ratio of men to women, “in my co-taught classes, I have one class that’s 16 boys and two girls. In my other co-taught class it is 16 boys and six years.” Although, unlike Ms. Watson, Ms. McGee does not blame gender-based socialization directly, but rather that boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and therefore put in a co-taught course.

Another problem facing young men at Roosevelt is that they seem to be confronted with perceived behavioral issues more often than young girls. According to Mr. Bradbury, he sometimes immediately assumes that if there is a behavioral problem in his classroom, “it’s a man’s fault”  

This might be a very common belief.

Ms. Watson said that “males tend to be sent to me more, because they might be the ones who get in trouble for talking back to the teacher, or yelling out, or using inappropriate language.” She even remembered a time that another administrator had “told a teacher that she needed to stop sending the male students out of the classroom. [The administrator] felt like the teacher might have been sending them out too often.”

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