The Orion

Breaking gender barriers


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Illustration by Liz Coffee

Illustration by Liz Coffee

Almost everyone has been asked by a teacher or parent what they want to be when they grow up. Answers vary from humorous, a dog, to all too often a gendered or stereotypical answer.

Of course, by the time these young wannabe princesses, policemen and teachers do grow up and attend a university they’ve outgrown these old dreams and clearly gendered thinking.

Unfortunately, that latter statement might not be so true. Here at Chico State there are several programs that have very clear gender biases. Child development, liberal studies, social work and nursing majors are dominated by women, with more than 80 and sometimes upward of 90 percent of the graduates are women.

This situation is paralleled in other majors typically considered predominately male areas of study and work, such as computer science, physics, mechanical engineering — hell, almost every major ending in “engineering.” These are all majors with about or less than 10 percent female graduating classes.

Universities are supposed to be places filled with progressive ideas and attitudes that support diversity. A college with programs segregated by gender flies in the face of these values.

Currently, societal values still shape the views of students, what they choose to study and what future profession they hope to pursue.

While more women are attending and graduating colleges, it’s important to consider what they are choosing to study or what society may be telling them they can.

This question also needs to be asked of the men attending as well. There is clearly a stigma about male teachers and nurses.

Institutions of learning should be at the forefront of changing these attitudes. “Today decides tomorrow” is this school’s motto, and if these lopsided graduation rates continue, the ideas behind them will continue to be perpetuated as well.

While scholarships for women who choose male dominated majors exist, there needs to be more opportunities. There needs to be support for men who decided they want to pursue a major where they would be a minority.

Awareness for these kinds of opportunities needs to be more public so they can be seized. If Chico State values diversity they have an obligation to act.

The Orion can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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Breaking gender barriers