It’s no secret that men have dominated the world of business, and with a 1:4 ration, my Basic Finance class is no exception. Guess how many of those girls’ voices you hear in an average seventy-five minute class! On average: none, including my own. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m starting to notice a discrepancy between male and female participation in my CSOM classes.
Coming from a small, all-girl, private, Catholic high school in Westchester, NY, I’ve always been comfortable voicing my opinions and sharing my thoughts. Even if I learn my thinking is flawed, I still had the assurance to share. Coming to BC, I assumed I would retain the same confidence and learn from my mistakes with my whole class.
Suddenly, I found myself second-guessing every answer that came to mind—even if I had a solid knowledge of the material. I started feeling myself blush and turn red every time a professor called out my name, and getting little pangs of anxiety while answering even the simplest questions. The guys in my classes always seem to know the answer (or at least confidently give the wrong one) because they’re sure of their place in the class. They’re in their element, discussing a historically male profession.
Now, this isn’t to say I never hear a girl answer a question or participate in any of my classes – just that those girls in my CSOM classes are far and few between. It’s strange to go to my writing classes or history discussions and being perfectly comfortable sharing my thoughts. But, when I’m sitting in a Financial Accounting class, I quietly write notes. My haunting thoughts that perhaps I don’t know enough about the subject to contribute consume me.
My mom always taught me that strangers don’t bite, and I should never be shy or nervous about talking to people. Growing up playing music and dancing, I’ve never had trouble in the spotlight, and my friends will testify to my enthusiasm of meeting new people. So why don’t I participate more in my CSOM classes?
We’re all obviously very bright women, with accomplishments just as impressive as our male counterparts. I know it’s sometimes hard to remember; especially when the guys manage to make up answers so confidently they sound infallible (boys, you know you do it!). I think that’s the cause of the discrepancy – girls would rather learn first and then later answer correctly and confidently. Guys, on the other hand, have no issue saying, “Yeah, the Fed! Interest rates going up this week!” even though they haven’t cracked open the Wall Street Journal.
So, I’m making a pact with myself right now: I’m going to start participating more in my CSOM classes, even if there’s a possibility I have no idea what I’m talking about and aren’t sure of the answer yet. There’s so much positive reinforcement in answering a question wrong in class – it’s much easier to retain the right answer. And even though I can’t answer exactly why other girls don’t participate, I think it’s safe to say that nothing bad will happen if we speak up.
Except we might break a glass ceiling…Oops!