The Oracle

Students should overcome gender norms for passions

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For some students at South, class selection is a breeze. They usually follow their core classes’ track to their comfort level and lock in an elective. To others, the process is a difficult one, having to balance their class choices with their comfort level because, on the first day of their new class, they may be surrounded exclusively by classmates of the opposite gender.

According to a non-scientific Oracle-conducted survey of 312 students, about one out of three students have either hesitated or chosen not to take a class due to a large discrepancy in gender. Despite the hesitation many students may have, the Oracle Editorial Board suggests students push beyond it and try a subject that they may be curious about, regardless of the gender ratio.

According to Dr. Lara Cummings, assistant principal for student services, the stigma behind gender-biased classes is often associated with the subject matter of the class pertaining to a certain gender.

“I think probably larger than GBS, yes, [there is a stigma],” Cummings said. “I think predominately you’ll hear Autos and people make assumptions that there [are] more men, or you go to a fashion class and people probably think there [are] more females in there.”

Senior Tony Cipolla, the only male in his Total Body Conditioning class, was confronted with this choice in selecting his gym class for his senior year. While choosing Total Body Conditioning over Weights, Cipolla was forewarned about the gender discrepancy, which he took into account when making his decision.

“It’s a very legitimate workout, can be challenging and is taught by an awesome teacher,” Cipolla said. “Boys are discouraged because it’s typically an all-girls class, when really, […] I don’t see anything about the class that is feminine, which is what is keeping the boys away.”

Cipolla is one of two males out of 103 students who take Total Body Conditioning, according to Cummings. But the discrepancy is expanded to other fields as well, such as Fashion where there are two males and 63 females. Females are in the minority in classes like Advanced Topics in Mathematics, where the ratio is 13 females to 25 males this school year and, according to Dawn Hall, Career and Technical Education instructional supervisor, Engineering and other applied technology classes also show the male skew.

Despite his class being mostly male, Bryan Cope, Advanced Topics teacher, values having female students that dare to join the historically male-dominated course. According to Cope, a book he’s been studying, How the Brain Learns Mathematics, claims that the female brain generally learns mathematics in a different mindset than his male students do.

“Oftentimes, girls really want to know the why behind things and want to understand processes and want to dig deeper and really understand something before moving on, whereas guys apparently are more willing to learn a process, move on, neat and clean,” Cope said.

The gender dynamic changes the classroom environment as well, according to Cope, due to the learning differences.

“[Feminine] ways of thinking can bring things to the discipline that maybe a more masculine way of thinking does not,” Cope said. “I think my wife really does understand things at a deeper level than I do, or can tackle those problems that require more intuition, whereas I’m good at memorizing everything at math.”

The Oracle Editorial Board suggests that examples like this prove the worth of having diversity in gender within classes. They expand levels of thought that could only be achieved by having students of the minority gender dare to take the course.

Busting the gender discrepancy-based stigma of classes is also key to personal growth, as it breaks down a wall keeping students from exploring classes and activities that provide further learning. Senior Cammi Davis, despite being in the gender minority for her Weights class, sees the experience as a crucial tool to better her health.

“I use Weights as an example to help myself,” Davis said. “It keeps [me] healthy because I [feel like] a lot of the other gym classes don’t necessarily keep you fit, and it’s also really good for my dancing.”

In selecting classes based on passion, there will ultimately be people who make you question your choices. Though most of them will be looking out for you, dare to take their words with a grain of salt and step outside of your comfort zone toward trying something that interests you.

So students, don’t allow yourselves to look back on high school as a time of what-if’s, but let it be a time to try something new. High school is a time to explore and delve into studies, and classes provide you the opportunities to do so. Don’t let being in the gender minority of a class stop you from trying something new, bettering yourself or pursuing something you love.

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Students should overcome gender norms for passions