These gendered halls (pt. 2): female voices minimized at Harkness tables and more

Ninth graders Julia Scott and Gabriella Thompson, as well as sophomore Savita Yopp explain their experiences as female-identifying students at school. “The fact is, we still live in a society that’s very biased against women,” Yopp said.

Melissa Nie

Ninth graders Julia Scott and Gabriella Thompson, as well as sophomore Savita Yopp explain their experiences as female-identifying students at school. “The fact is, we still live in a society that’s very biased against women,” Yopp said.

Throughout history, women have been oppressed and seen as inferior to men. In the last century, a great deal of progress has been made in terms of gender equity. However, inequality still persists in society. At St. Paul Academy and Summit School, 87.1 percent of female-identifying respondents said that gender impacts the way they go about their day.

Sophomore Savita Yopp believes that gender affects academic life in Harkness discussions.

“I think that there’s definitely a bias on who ends up speaking more, who ends up being listened to, [and] whose comments are taken most seriously,” Yopp said.

“I think it especially affects the way we talk about gender. When men talk about gender, they get a lot more credit for it because with women it sounds like we’re whining.”

Yopp also thinks that people mistakenly believe that social issues surrounding gender have already been resolved.

“[The way people talk about gender] is kind of dismissive,” Yopp said. “There’s this concept that it’s all done. Everything has been taken care of, women are equal now, we all respect women and we think that they’re equals.”

There’s this concept that it’s all been done; everything has been taken care of, women are equal now.”

— Savita Yopp

However, she believes this is not the case.

“The fact is, we still live in a society that’s very biased against women. If we don’t accept that we all have inherent biases, how on earth are we ever going to fix anything?” Yopp said.

As a result, women tend to be more vocal about gender issues.

“I’ve noticed that a lot of people who aren’t guys talk about gender more, and they’re more aware of the way that gender affects the everyday experience,” ninth-grader Gabriella Thompson said.

Gender inequity still exists because it takes copious amounts of time and effort to fully change the way society works. Ninth-grader Julia Scott explains why gender imbalances tend to show up in Harkness discussions:

“Harkness discussions make it easy for discrimination to take place, not because people are sexist or racist, but because gender inequality is ingrained in our society even without people knowing,” Scott said.

“It is very common for boys to interrupt girls without a second thought and to dismiss their ideas, even though the point of Harkness discussions is to speak and listen respectfully to others.”

Gender roles and differences are reflected in things such as the wage gap and the amount of women who go into certain professions. For example, a common issue lies with STEM education, where men often outnumber women.

“I think there’s always the knowledge that fundamentally comes with being female that the men are going to go higher because of the societal structure,” Yopp said.

This story is reprinted from The Rubicon Print edition: Dec 12, 2017