In a Room Full of Women

I'm a senior at the University of Miami and, for the first time in my college career, I'm in a strange position. In each of my classes (except for my thesis course because it is just myself and my professor) the women either outnumber or equal the amount of men. Some of this should be expected considering four of my classes are anthropology and one is poetry – disciplines that are generally female dominated. Plus, UM is a school filled with mostly women. Still, it is a bit dizzying to sit in a classroom of women (the men are outnumbered 22 to 3 in one of my classes!) because of how rare it occurs.

Obviously, none of that is a bad thing. It’s not uncomfortable or discriminatory being in my position in the way it might be for women in male dominated fields. Instead it’s an opportunity to shut up and watch how women interact with, well, other women in a way they may not do so in an all-male or largely male academic setting. From what I’ve seen, that takes on the form of simply talking. Talking in the sense of inquisitive conversation in search of exploring questions rather than, as in my more male colleagued filled political science classes, competitive jostling. Part of this may just be how the different fields affect people personally. After all, people usually don’t fight about who is the better poet between William Blake and John Keats and they don’t tussle over ethnographic methods but they will argue and end friendships discussing the 2016 election. Nevertheless, there is a marked difference between largely female classes and the rest.

As a guy in female dominated courses, it is beneficial hearing their perspectives because of how widely they diverge from my own views especially when it comes to topics such as sexuality and gender roles. I can only look so far past my own nose in understanding their issues through some statistic or another and it's vastly more helpful to hear them stake their positions personally. This is amplified more so because of the high number of women of color that are in my classes (one class is predominately black women and the other is predominately Hispanic). What this all leads to is an environment ripe for conversations of intersectionality and the result is a holistic foundation of knowledge where nobody needs to be marginalized because all voices have contributed something to the conversation.

Classes filled with dudes is normal and that’s the problem – it’s normal. You’re going to receive a normal learning experience, nothing more and nothing less. I can’t speak for how women feel in mainly female classes but as a guy in five of those sorts of classes, I can say they’re pretty good. It’s different enough as to get one out of their comfort zone and that alone should make a guy consider taking an intro to Women Gender Studies or a course in any other field that could have a room of women.