Application-based classes lack gender diversity


Maya Morris / Sagamore staff

Students listen attentively during a Social Justice class taught by Social Studies teacher Kathryn Leslie.

Iman Khan, Arts Editor

Females outnumber males in Social Justice, Global Leadership, Racial Awareness and other application-based classes at the high school. For some students and faculty members, the lack of males has caused a lack of varied perspectives in these classes.

Social studies teacher Malcolm Cawthorne, who teaches the Racial Awareness class, said that an unbalanced gender composition of a class can make diverse discussion difficult.

“It would be better if we had more balance and it would represent the school better,” Cawthorne said. “So in Racial Awareness, we do affinity groups by race, but also by gender and this year it’s been really hard. One of our sections only has two males in it, so it makes it hard to break up by gender. We feel like it’s important, every time you break up into affinity groups, you get something different, and we’re missing that aspect.”

Additionally, Cawthorne said that gender diversity is valuable in race discussions as well.

“When you talk about racial awareness, there are different things that come with our gender alignments as well,” Cawthorne said. “So, what it means to be African-American takes a different meaning when you talk about what it means to be an African-American male and what it means to be an African-American female. You can say that with all of the races and so, part of the reason we like that is because it helps us examine ourselves and our own personal identities deeper.”

Senior Justin Yue said he understands that many males are uncomfortable when expressing how they feel on certain topics in social justice.

“People who don’t know the full class, think it’s kind of an all-girl, feminist class,” Yue said. “That’s what people think; they think it’s all about women’s rights. No, it’s about everything, there’s a wide range.”

Junior Quinn Peters took Global Leadership last year, and she takes Social Justice this year. Peters said that she thinks some males may be reluctant to apply because of the high percentage of females.

“This dynamic has created walls because I don’t think many men want to apply for a class if they don’t think they’ll be able to be with their friends,” Peters said. “And I think many women don’t want to be in a male-dominated class where they fear their voices will be overpowered.”

Juniors Lena Harris and Wilson Hsu express their concerns that a lack of males in those classes will lead to a large, uneducated group of people who might perpetuate stereotypes that more females have learned to avoid. Hsu, who takes Global Leadership, said that there is a need for more males.

“The goal of the class is to get different perspectives on global issues, so I think it’s better to have more guys for more perspectives,” Hsu said.

Both Harris and Yue agree that a lack of any group of people in such influential classes is a misrepresentation of the high school as a whole. Being the only male in his class, Yue encourages more males to join as it it beneficial to contribute another voice into the conversation.

“I think it would be very beneficial. Me, I’ve obviously changed. I’ve started to see things from a different perspective. This class has you thinking about how our system is really the true reality,” Yue said. “If, say more guys took it, they would be more educated about it and they would also try to make a change. Then that’s another guy. That’s one more voice.”