Skip to main content

View Diary: Even JPL Presenters Treat Boys and Girls Differently (267 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  Please be assertive next time (5+ / 0-)

    I was once asked to observe a student teacher at a local high school.  I hadn't worked with her before, but she needed one more written observation to hand in to her teacher education program, the regular teacher had an emergency, and I had a free period so I agreed to supervise in the class and write up a report on her.

    Five minutes into the class, I started to notice that she was calling on the boys far more than the girls.  She was encouraging the boys more too in the way that you described above.  She was otherwise doing a good job with the teaching, but this was disturbing to me.

    So I got an extra piece of paper and started to keep track of whom she called on and a word or two stating how she'd given them feedback.  By the end of the 50 minute lesson, she'd called on boys 26 times and girls only 8 times.  She gave the boys lots of praise and encouraged them to expand on their answers.  The girls just got a simple "Good."  The little tally paper was a very dramatic and visual representation of sexism at work in the classroom.

    When it came time for me to sit down with her to go over my review, I presented the written observation first, which was very good.  Then I handed her my informal tally.  She was stunned.  She'd had absolutely no idea about her own bias.  She was so grateful to me for having pointed it out to her, and she resolved to keep it at the forefront of her mind in the future.  

    I imagine she was also grateful that I hadn't noted it on her formal report.  I didn't think that was necessary.  Here's why:  I believed that she was going to be a very good teacher, but like all students, she needed to grow and learn to become a professional. This was one hell of a learning experience for her.

    This young woman was an attractive, personable blonde.  My gut feeling was that she'd spent the past ten years seeking out and enjoying the admiration of the opposite sex, and she hadn't become self-aware enough yet to put that aside in the classroom.  I think our little conversation was the dividing line between identifying herself as girlfriend material vs. professional educator.

    Despite the best of intentions, some people just don't realize they're behaving in a biased way.  If you point it out to well-intentioned people, they immediately work to change their behavior.

    I didn't want to derail her studies.  I just wanted her to learn from the experience.  I truly believe she did.

    Perhaps this JPL presenter needed to be made aware of his own flaws.  It's not too late to write to him.

    ‘‘For Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the differences you make in people’s lives.’’ ~ Michelle Obama, DNC, 4 Sep 2012

    by harchickgirl1 on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 02:58:06 PM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site