Gendered classes: why the breakdown?

In the first semester of the school year, I had two social studies classes, Economics and World Religions. On the first day of school, I walked into both classrooms and was startled by the rosters.

My Economics class, in which every desk was full, had just five girls enrolled. My World Religions class was also almost full, but only had four boys in it.

Those two classes were not the first or last times I would be shocked by the complete gender discrepancies in my classes. International Relations during my junior year only had a few boys in a class of around twenty. My current Journalism class has five girls out of sixteen students.

I was intrigued by the huge differences in gender in some classes, and I began to wonder if I just happened to end up in classes that were very gender-skewed. After all, Amherst is a town that likes to promote being inclusive, so surely my experience must have been just a fluke.

I began asking my friends if they had taken classes that had extreme gender differences in order to figure out if I was alone. It turns out that I am not the only one and other classes are even more segregated.

Emma Mack has taken almost all of the engineering and technology classes that ARHS has to offer. She told me that in two of the classes she took, there was a heavy male enrollment. In the second semester of this school year, she took Engineering and Robotics, a class where she was one of only two girls.

Why there is such a difference in gender in some classes of ARHS is not clear. The blame could be placed on a number of factors. The school may not promoting females taking more math- centered courses or males being more creative. Parents could be blamed for not pushing their children to take classes outside their comfort zones. We could all blame society for pushing us into male and female roles.

What is certain is that Amherst is not immune to gender bias.

We can talk all we want about inclusiveness and creating a community where everyone is equal, but the fact of the matter is that our school has underlying issues surrounding gender bias in classes. Until we as a community realize that the issue exists and that we have the power to do something about it, nothing is going to change.