For many women, being a minority isn’t really an issue at school. But for women in certain programs, like digital media or business, it quickly becomes one.
“Being a girl means you are automatically a minority in this major” said Madysen Memmott, a Digital Media student. “On my first day of class one of my professors said women always get a higher grade in my class.” Is this professor joking, or are women being patronized or singled out to some extent? According to a Jan. 26 Deseret News article (“Utah lagging in number of women in college”), the number of women enrolled at UVU lags behind the national average by 14 percent, with about 43 percent female enrollment. In programs like digital media or business, the number is even lower.
The problem applies to both professors and classmates. “There are guys who will try to baby me, and I hate it when they do that” said Memmott. It might be thought that some women like being in the kind of situation where men want to do things for them simply for being women – like carry their books, give them better grades, etc. But often that is not true and it sometimes gets out of hand. “I had a stalker once,” Memmott said when asked if she had encountered any bad experiences already. “He would call non-stop and make different Facebook accounts once I deleted him.”
Perhaps some women feel pressure not to act on these kinds of situations and biases. One may not want to disrupt what appears to everyone else as normal, but is uncomfortable or confining for them. It is difficult for some women to demand to be treated as equals for fear that they may be unfairly labeled as “bossy” or even “bitchy.” This is because in classes where there are few women, they may not want to be singled out.
Andrea Ibañez, an economics major, thinks that the Woodbury tends to be dominated by men. “It’s so competitive, which is good, but sometimes guys automatically want to take control of a group. But you can’t let them get all the leadership experience,” she said.
A college education is a lot like a poker game; you get as much out as you put in.
Those who have an imbalance of genders in their classes need to make it possible for everyone to have an equal experience. The fact that we are all adults does not guarantee that these issues will work themselves out. Teachers need to be more aware of what’s going on within their walls – they may alternatively expect nothing or too much from their female students. Students need to be sensitive to the position of women in relation to them.
However, this won’t happen unless professors address this not only in their syllabus, but throughout the semester in their classes. This is not a perfect solution, but it is a step, or a skip, in the right direction. Any women feeling discriminated or disrespected from either professors or classmates should contact the Woman’s Resource center on campus at 801-863-8080.