It’s no secret that the male population has always had a more prominent voice than females throughout the course of history. Most men were almost always allowed to voice their opinions and have the final say in how the world works, but it’s the 21st century now and that needs to change, specifically within the walls of our education system.
Think back to when you were in a class and your professor allowed the class to get into a debate about a certain topic. Whose voices were always the loudest and taken the most seriously throughout the conversations? I can bet that it wasn’t a group of ladies hashing it out; instead, perhaps it was a group of boys screaming at each other while banging their fists against their desks. This isn’t to say that girls never speak out, it’s just that more often than not, their words are drowned out by those of men.
No one is to blame for this phenomenon necessarily, but male students and even male professors need to make an effort to remember that a lot girls aren’t about to shout over boys’ naturally stronger and deeper voices just so they can have a sentence’s worth of input in the discussion. Boys, you absolutely should be involved during class, don’t get me wrong, but what you need to refrain from doing is full-on ignoring what your female peers are saying. Give us some acknowledgement and try to remember that you aren’t the only ones in the world that have valid opinions and suggestions.
Too many times have I seen girls in class timidly raise their hands and say: “Sorry, this might be stupid but…” Ladies, why are we apologizing for asking a question and automatically labeling what we say “stupid?” We shouldn’t have to feel bad about asking for clarification or offering our input. Boys hardly, if ever, say this phrase because they typically have no fear in how their words will impact the conversation. If someone challenges what they say, they usually leap right into an argument that escalates into pure yelling and, seriously, who does that benefit?
It’s sort of like when hockey players get into a fight. First, two guys from opposing teams are fighting for the puck, one of them does something that pushes the other guy to his limits, and then suddenly both teams are jumping over each other and trying to pummel one another into the ice. I can’t speak for all girls, but I’m assuming not many of us would want to get into the middle of that fight.
Another fault in this male-female classroom dichotomy is that girls are often cut off by male students and it results in the lowering of their self-esteem and confidence in class. After being spoken over so many times, we aren’t going to want to raise our hands and talk because, to be frank, what’s the point if we’re only going to be interrupted after a few words? From personal experience, I know how awful it can feel to be spoken over constantly and feel like your words mean absolutely nothing. So, gentlemen, put on your chivalry-pants and let us finish our sentences before we hear what you want to say…please.
Our instructors need to take a part in changing how this current system works, too. Professors and teachers have the responsibility as educators to insure that all of their students have the chance to vocalize their opinions in a space where they will not be pushed to the side. In saying this, if they see that the class is being overrun by male voices, they should step in and remind the guys to give the girls a chance to talk.
Why is this so important? Well, after we finish with school and enter the workforce, or even just adulthood in general, women need to have the confidence to speak up in environments dominated by men. If we aren’t given the respect necessary to share our thoughts or ask our questions in class, how can we be expected to do so while sitting at a conference table full of men or on the phone with a male executive in a few years?
Change starts in the classroom; help make it happen.