Gender Stratification

And the unconscious bias.

Today was parent-teacher conferences.

(By the way, I’ve picked up a part-time job, hence the lengthy absences lately.)

There’s this new scoring system for reading, and Sage scored a 12.4.

That means that she is at the same reading level as a high school senior halfway through the year.

Even with scores being brought down due to NCLB, it’s still fairly impressive.

She has all As, and loves math and science. All this I knew.

And then the teacher said something that I barely registered at the time, but which I’ve been mulling over for the past few hours now. (When I should be resting up!).

She spoke of Sage as a tomboy.

Now, many women that I know are proud of being a tomboy, of defying the “normal” girl stereotype. I’m not downplaying that trend-bucking. I think the label needs to be examined, though.

I think it’s very significant that my daughter being good at math and science, and not being gender specific as to her friends, has earned her this label.

Because, honestly, my daughter is not a tomboy in the usual sense. She doesn’t “enjoy rough, noisy activities.” She doesn’t dress or act in a masculine manner.

The simple act of being immune to peer pressure and enjoying math/science has earned her the label of tomboy.

Which means that, in society, we consider these things to be masculine qualities.

This is the sort of unconscious bias that pushes girls away from these areas when they reach the vulnerable teenage years.

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One Response to “Gender Stratification”

  1. This complicated problem — recruiting girls to “stem” subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) is the topic of a forthcoming ad campaign in the EU. It’s a big challenge, which also was discussed in an interesting report from Spain last week, that I blogged about here: http://wp.me/p1xS1Q-kr

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