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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Back to school

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Author Topic: Back to school
Rizzo
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Well, most of us have hit the books for another year, and I'm sure we're all thinking about... the gender makeup of our classes!!

So, is it an even split, most of the time? Are there certain courses which seem to attract more of one sex than the other? If your sex is in the minority, do you ever feel shy to speak up in class? Do you feel that one sex receives more validation from the teacher?

At the university level, I feel fairly comfortable, though I do remember some sexist comments made by teachers in the lower grades. Usually they were of the "Can I get 2 strong boys to help me..." variety, even when we were pre-pubescent and therefore relatively equal in strength.

However, my (horrible) grade 8 teacher routinely made condescending comments about his wife and daughter, while praising his son. He also ordered all girls to wear a bra. This is the same teacher who wouldn't accept "condom use" as one way to help prevent STDs and pregnancy on a test... he would only accept the answer "abstinence". But... that's another story!

This article goes over many common complaints about inequality in the school system. One aspect I hadn't considered was the teen pregnancy issue... do we give up too easily on girls who get pregnant, or do we just give up on all "troublemakers" regardless of gender?

[This message has been edited by Rizzo (edited 09-17-2001).]


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BruinDan
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I'm an English Major...or will be for the next 11 weeks until I graduate. But the interesting part about being an English Major is that it is so overwhelmingly packed with women. In most of my classes, I am one of about three or four men in a class of 70 or so. For a long time I was scared to say anything, since if I didn't agree with the way the conversation was going, I would be shouted down.

The worst example of that was in an "American Women Writers" class I had to take two years ago. Initially there were four guys in the class and just under 100 women. Little by little, the other guys dropped and I became the only representative for my gender. This was unnerving, since the attitude in that class seemed outwardly hostile towards men in general, although the professor was very gentle with me and encouraged me to speak up.

I tend to think that it works both ways, I have never had a teacher whom I thought was against one gender or another, but I have had classroom environments I thought were hostile towards me (the Women Writers course being the most notable example). My campus on the whole is nearly 70% female, and while I think that has helped me broaden my perspective (which is the ultimate aim of college, right?), I can see how it has made me less likely to speak up in class.

In my four years of university, I have only had 1 class with a male majority, it was a Social Welfare class I took in 1999. There were 450 people in the class and 380 of them were men. The feeling in that class was different, there was a tangibly different dynamic in there and I must admit I felt a lot more comfortable raising my hand without fear of ridicule. I don't know why that is, but I think that every once in a while, being surrounded by people who understand where you are coming from is important.

(By the way, I was unable to get the article to work, is the URL correct?)

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Rizzo
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Oops, thanks Dan. It worked for me, just click on the word "This" (article goes over...) and it should work. For some reason This is not showing up coloured...
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John Doe
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I found the article unconvincing in the extreme. In large part due to her extensive citing of Orenstien's "School Girls". i read that book and found it to be a pretty vicious piece of male hate propaganda. She holds up as an example of a great principal a lady who seems to relish humiliating and embarrasssing the boys who's education she has been entrusted. In fact, the article is not only wrong, its got things backwards. it mentions in passing the female outperformance in reading and writting but neglects to mention that that gap is several times larger than the gap between girls and boys in math and science. No federal money goes to filling the reading and writting gap, yet the much smaller gap in the sciences is treated like some sort of national crisis. The AAUW study was intellectually dishonest. It was based in large part to the percent answering in the top bracket of one 5 point scale question. It ignored and buried results that went contrary to the thesis that they wanted to put forward.
Look at this for he other side of the story. http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2000/05/sommers.htm

It seems to me like title IX is not being enforced, it calls for gender equity in the schools. As things stand now, it is the boys who need the help. They are far more likely to drop out, not go to college, be shunted into the special ed track, recive failing grades, commit suicide (why is that if its the girls self esteem which is falling, I've never heard of someone with high self esteem killing themselves) and be treated more harshly in disciplinary proceedures than girls are.

[This message has been edited by John Doe (edited 09-17-2001).]

[This message has been edited by John Doe (edited 09-17-2001).]


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John Doe
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I tried the link but I mis typed it, and my edit didn't take (well it did in the text but not when you click on it) here it is again http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2000/05/sommers.htm
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Gumdrop Girl
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i study molecular biology. the class is a pretty even plit of men and women. there might even be a few more women than men in some of my classes. you want to see real divisions, though? check out the ethnic demographic of the major. i often joke that I'm "the only blonde" in many of my classes. (i'm actually an asian-american, and a vast majority of the people in my classes are of asian descent.)

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Dzuunmod
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I'm a journalism student. In my classes, girls tend to represent about 2/3 of the total. I understand that the situation at my university overall is similar to most other schools; women dominate the undergraduate population while men comprise the overwhelming majority of the graduate student population.

Interestingly, Gumdrop, the ethnic situation in my department is totally different from the one in yours. Montreal is a very multicultural city, and Concordia is a very diverse university, but the journalism department is lily-white.

Last year I took a course called 'Women and Politics in Canada'. I had a pretty positive experience in the class. Although I didn't feel comfortable disagreeing with the professor, I did feel comfortable disagreeing with most of the students. I'm also thankful for the other male in the class who sat right in front of me, and spoke out on so many occasions when I'd have liked to.

[This message has been edited by Dzuunmod (edited 09-18-2001).]


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Only In Dreams
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Hmm...very interesting topic!

Let's see...
My Honors Bio class is pretty evenly split, as are my Health class and my Algebra class. My Choir is an all-girl's choir, so it's obviously...all girls. Many boys in the coed choirs are often made fun of, called "gay" (when exactly did that become an insult?! It annoys me...), although most of them aren't. My PE teacher definitely favors the girls. He goes easy on us, which bothers me a little (even if I am the Anti-Athlete). Honors English has a few more girls in it, but it's completely equal.

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Beppie
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In high school most of my classes were evenly split, except English and Drama, which were female dominated. There were also more girls doing Ancient History, but the difference wasn't as big in those classes. My 3 Unit English class (the highest level of English you can do in 12th grade in NSW) was all female.

At uni, my majors are English and Linguistics, and those classes are definitely female dominated, especially English. A lot of the other classes I've done tend to be the same way.

Most people in my classes tend to be of European descent, although in some linguistics classes it's been more mixed, which is great, as it gives you a lot more perspectives. The most noticable national group in any of my classes is in Aboriginal Studies, where about 50% of the class is American (and most of the Americans are females).


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PoetgirlNY
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I'm still in highschool, but I'm a senior, so all of my classes are electives now. I take modern dance, and it's all women. Absolutely no men, not one. I was walking through the building this morning and passed an architecture class in which I noticed it was all men. No women, not one. The school does nothing to encourage mixing, which I think they should.

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Sapphire85
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I attend a high school specifically geared towards intensive study of math, science, and engineering technology. It's competitive to get in, and although I think they admit approximately the same number of boys and girls, sometimes it seems as if the school is male-dominated. Last year, I had 12 boys and 3 other girls in my U.S history class. The girls in my school aren't ignored but, we just have to be a little louder than the boys to be noticed sometimes. Actually I think that many of the females in my school are more well-adjusted than the males. A lot of our guys are so smart that they lack basic social skills (17 year olds!), and while the girls are just as intelligent, they're just better in social situations. One problem with my school is that sexual harrassment is taken very lightly. It's hard for females to get respect because guys will stand right in front of you and discuss your breasts, butt, legs, etc. Last week I had a guy grab my chest at a dance for no reason, and let me tell you, I was P.O.ed. But anyways, I don't really mind school, because in general, everybody is very intelligent and cool to hang out with.

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Beppie
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Have you told any teachers about that Sapphire? It sounds like you are uncomfortable with this, so maybe you could get a group of other girls together who feel uncomfortable about it and present the issue to a sympathetic teacher or counsellor who might be able to stress that such behaviour is not okay. You have as much of a right to be comfortable in your school environment as anyone else.
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DrQuack5
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OK, well, I was bored one day and counted the number of guys in my class. Some are a bit off, because I can't remember the exact numbers plus absenses and all that jazz.

1. HL1 History = 6 guys
2. Transitional Spanish = 6 guys
3. IB English = 5 guys
4. Physics = ~20 guys
5. IB Math Studies = ~20 guys
6. Theatre = 8 guys

Those are the approximate numbers and all the guys in my Spanish class are quite annoying and immature. Even the guys that used to be sooo sweet freshmen year... hmm... oh well.


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Gaffer
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Dzuunmod, you said you go to Concordia? Do you know anything about their language villages in northern Minnesota? I go to their French Camp, Lac du Bois.

Er, what was the topic again, oh yes, class make up.

I'm a sophomore in High-School, so not a lot of choice in which clases one takes, but I'll tell you about it anyway. My Chemistry class is pretty much even, my math class is pretty even (one more girl than guys), woodwinds is interesting--there are 6 people, 3 guys, 3 girls, and there are finally more male flautists than there are female. It's really odd, and not at all following previous years' patterns with only two guys in the group max and usually six or seven girls. All the other classes seem pretty even. There are a few more girls than there are guys in my French class, but that's the only other noticible difference.


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BruinDan
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I've just started the final quarter of my college career...and I actually filed paperwork for my "Bachelor's Candidacy" today, so I am quite pleased at the moment.

But I have so far had only one class, and it is again very indicative of the way my Major rounds out. It is an English course, "Earlier Romantic Literature," and there are 71 people in the class. Five of us are men. Pretty wild percentage, huh?

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Dzuunmod
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Hey Gaffer,
Actually, a quick search on the net revealed that there are no less than 3 institutions of higher education on the continent called Concordia. One of which - the one I assume you're referring to - is in Minnesota, another of which - the one at which I'm a student - is in Montreal, in Canada.

There are no affiliations between the schools, from what I can see.


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Gaffer
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They're just so original and creative...

The many joys of sarcasm.


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BJadeT
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Hmm..well I went to an all girls school form 11-16, so that was fairly biased towards the female side! (It sucked by the way. Stupid idea)
At college the overall make up seems to be about 2 thirds girls. My politics class is fairly evenly split, as is my history, but my French class has just 3 lads in it and my English class only 1. It seems to e that the more 'fact based' (maths, science) a subject is, the more male dominated it is. That might be a gross generalisation/over simplification but that's how it seems.
And as for 'two big strong boys' being asked for, that's always wound me up. They used to do that in INFANT SCHOOL, when we were aged 4-7. That bugs me so much

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John Doe
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Dan the disparity you cite in the english major is pretty eye opening. I am a big fan of a liberal arts education (I was a history/poly sci double major for my BA). However, I wonder if this has any bearing on the average earnings gap between men and women. If women are, on balance, studying Byron and Jane Austin, and men are, on balance studying Accounting and marketing, might that explain some of the income gap?
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Laura
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That depends, John - are you talking about the income gap between engineers and elementary school teachers, or between male engineers and female engineers?

If it's the former, then sure, I can see that. Society, for whatever reason, places less monetary value on things that interest women on average than on things that interest men on average. Is this a problem? Does it need fixing? I really don't know.

If it's the latter, then I doubt it. Men and women with nearly identical jobs start out making nearly identical salaries, and it's only over time that the income gap forms. By age 45 or 50, I think, women in professions such as medicine, law, and academia are nearly a full rank behind their male colleagues, which corresponds to a huge salary gap.

(I'm not making this up - this is from a talk I saw last week by Virginia Valian, who wrote a book about this stuff.)

To me, this is a big problem, and it has nothing to do with women studying Lord Byron while the men are learning differential equations. It has to do with people (men *and* women, it seems) viewing a woman's accomplishments as less significant than a man's, just because she's a woman. How do we fix this? Good question.

(Sorry if this is off-topic, moderators, but I wanted to answer John's question...)

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John Doe
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I don't think it is off the Gender Issues topic, but it is going a little far afield on the back to school issue. However, there are some very good explinations for the male engineer at age 40 earning more than the female engineer at age 40. lets say that a class of 100 engineers (50 guys/50 girls) graduate at age 21 and all recive a starting salary of $30,000. for the next six years all earn 5% annual raises, so at age 27 all are earning $40,203/yr. Then half of the women take off for 10 years to raise kids, and then return at age 37 at the same 40,203 salary they left at. the remaining 75 engineers (all the guys, half the girls)continue to earn 5% raises. Thus at age 37 they are earning $65,486, and by age 40 they are earning $75,808. The returning women also resume the 5% growth path, so at age 40 they are earning $46540. Thus at age 40, the women are on average earning $61,174, or only 80.6% of what the average man is making.
No discrimination other than women being statistically more likely to choose to drop out of the workforce to raise children than men are. Now we can ask why does the society make it more acceptable for a woman to do this than a man.
the more a woman makes, statistically the more likely it is for her husband to be working. The more a man makes, statistically, the less likely it is for is wife to be working outside the home. Thus it is likely the financial success of men which allows women the option of staying home to raise the kids.

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emsily0
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i'd be interested to know how you reached that conclusion, john.

my understanding was that a woman with 10 years of experience earns less doing the same job as a man with ten years of experience. i don't quite see what that has to do with taking time off to raise children.

em

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Laura
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I'm taking these numbers from the National Science Foundation's 2000 report on women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering. It's all available online at www.nsf.gov if you want to take a look.

In 1997, there were about 780,000 women employed in science and engineering. There were also about 51,000 women taking time off for family reasons. That's about 6.1%, compared to a negligible percentage of men. So in 1997, on average, women fell about 6.1% of a year behind men. Assume that this percentage has stayed fairly constant (which, to be sure, it hasn't, but let's assume so anyway.) Then over the span of a 40-year career, women, on average, fall about 2.5 years behind men because of raising kids. Using your 5% annual salary increase figure (which, in reality, is generous), that means that men should, on average, make 13% more than women at the end of their careers.

The average salary for women scientists and engineers aged 50 and over is about $50,000. Therefore, the average salary for men of the same age should be about $56,500. In actuality, the average salary for men is $67,000. In some fields, the gap is a little narrower, and in some it's a little wider, but in every single category listed, the average salary for men over 50 is more than 20% higher than for women over 50. In some categories, it's as high as 52%.

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John Doe
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I would dispute the 51,000 figure. It probably only includes those who are on a sabatical or something of that sort (ie taking advantage of the family leave act). Most of the women who "drop out" of the work force for family reasons would not be included in the workforce figure. For example, the unemployment rate includes only those who are actively looking for work. If a woman has not been working for 3 years, it is highly unlikely that she would be in the 51,000 figure, nor would she be in the 780,000 figure. The idea that only 6% of women in their peak child bearing and raising who are educated in science are SAHM's is just not consistant with my experience. In my neighborhood, granted a fairly wealthy suburban one, the majority of 27-37 yo women are SAHM's, or work part time. I realize that farther down the socio-economic scale the proportion of mom's who are working is higher, but also high socio-economic women are more likely to be college educated than low socio-economic women. One has to make the assumption that we are talking about college educated women and men here.

As for how I reached the conclusion, it was simple arithmitic, done using the y to the x botton on my calculator. To get the increase over 10 years you raise 1.05 to the 10th power and multiply by the base salary, that gives you the salary at the end of the period.

[This message has been edited by John Doe (edited 10-09-2001).]


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emsily0
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you have not addressed my question, john, which was how do you explain the disparity between the salaries of men and women with the same number of years of experience in the same field?

em


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John Doe
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To some extent it may be a difference in the fields they are working in, say more men in private industry vs. more women working at non-profits or government jobs. also, while I just skimmed the link (it was pretty long) it did look like there were more women who worked part time than men (mostly for family reasons). Also I'm not sure if there is a difference in the amount of "overtime" that men and women work. It would not nessicarilly be called that since most of these are salaried positions. But it could very well be that women are more likely to be the ones who leave at 5 pm to pick up the kids at day care while the man works until 9 pm. I don't have any stats on that but it does fit with a fair amount of annecdotal evidence I have seen.
If in a competitive environment, a business could pick up the same quality engineers for a lower price simply by hiring women, why would any business hire men. Wouldn't they be afraid that their compititon would do that, thus have higher margins or the ability to undercut them on price?

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Laura
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The table from which I got the 51,000 figure is entitled "Scientists and Engineers who are unemployed or out of the labor force." So, it at least claims to include women who have "dropped out" of the labor force.

The fact that relatively few female scientists and engineers take a lot of time off to raise children is supported by my own anecdotal evidence. My advisor is a female chemistry professor. She has a six-year-old daughter, and has been working full-time for at least the last three or four years. Two other female professors here (one in chemistry, one in physics) had children in the last couple years, and neither took more than a couple months off. My undergraduate advisor, a middle-aged female math professor, had no children and wasn't planning to. In fact, I can't even think of one professor I know who took more than a year or two off to raise children.

I'm focusing on academia here because that's the field I know the best. For all I know, things may be different in other fields, but this is what I've seen in my own experience.

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BruinDan
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quote:
If women are, on balance, studying Byron and Jane Austin, and men are, on balance studying Accounting and marketing, might that explain some of the income gap?

Actually, this is an interesting point. My friend and co-worked Grace is currently enrolled in an upper-level Management course, an upper-division Chemical Engineering course, and a lower-division Physics course. Out of 80 people in her Management class, 22 are men. Out of approximately 95 people in her Chemical Engineering lab, there are 37 men. In her Physics class, there are a total of 188 people in the lecture, with an almost even split of 92 men and 96 women.

I know that my campus is overwhelmingly female (and believe me, that has never bothered me a bit ), but now I'm starting to wonder just what classes my male buddies are taking! My understanding is that there is a slight male majority in some Political Science courses...but I'll have to peek in there and check for myself.

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TenohSetsuna
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I went to a school last year where there were 22 guys and only six girls. No joke. That was the entire grade. A bunch of girls had left the school in earlier years, and then 6 new guys came in the year after that, so it didn't really work marvelously on gender equality. The girls got all sorts of bonuses, we got to go to lunch with two teachers one day instead of eating at school(I "forgot" my money), we got two tents to share together on the camping trip, but it also took away from out individuality a lot. All of a sudden we were "the girls." Not Becca, Maia, and so on, just "the girls." Subs always wanted me to sit with the rest of the girls, even though I didn't want to, the whole idea was probably some type of conspiracy.

Random note: Whenever someone asks for a few strong guys, I volunteer to prove that I'm just as strong as the guys in my class. Sexism gets you nowhere.

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