Gender disparities prevalent in GBS electives

Hailey Cho and Abby McKew

As hundreds of classes are taught at South, diversity is present in many classrooms through ethnicity, belief or gender. However, there are certain electives at South with imbalances between students who identify as male and female. Whether it be due to unequal advertising or peer pressure, this divide impacts both teachers and students in these electives.

Andrew Toniolo, choir and beginning music theory teacher, said there is a lack of male students in South’s choir electives due to stereotypical beliefs regarding vulnerability and men’s expression of their emotions.

“Choir requires people to be emotional and to be emotionally vulnerable,” Toniolo said. “These are artistic endeavors that are ‘less manly’ than I think a lot of our male students have been taught to behave when they were younger.”

Many students at South might decide to not participate in certain electives because of the gender disparity stereotypes, Toniolo said. This causes difficulty for South’s choir, since the elective is a group effort, and the more diverse, the better Toniolo stated.

“The more diverse the choir is, the stronger it becomes,” Toniolo said. “That’s the tough thing. When we have our diversity as our strength over on our end, mixed with the cultural norms that our students are taught by their family and cultures and our American culture and Glenview culture all stacked on top of each other.”

Sophomore Madeline Goldberg, a former woodworking student, said she became friends with the few girls in her class. Goldberg added that she knew many girls who would not take woodworking because it was dominated by males. Goldberg believes that decisions like these might be affected by how students have grown up.

“[I think] how kids are raised and how people find interest in the toys they played with when they were younger can have an influence on what they are doing later in life,” Goldberg said.

Freshman Sam Cotton, who is taking a child development elective, said that electives are gender dominated because they are thought to be exclusive for a certain gender. He said that instead of taking an elective because they love it, people often avoid electives for fear of getting made fun of. Although balancing genders in electives is important, Cotton said they shouldn’t be forced into a class.

“If there are more of the opposite gender going for the elective, you allow them to equal it out, but I don’t think you should force more people that aren’t taking the elective to take it,” Cotton said.

Mark Maranto, the instructional supervisor of the fine arts department, said that in order to eliminate gender domination in certain electives, the department heads must be careful in the way that they target possible students.

“[In order] to let [students] make an informed decision about what the offerings are, regardless of gender, I think we owe it to students to let them know what’s out there for them,” Maranto said.