Bias toward women in the classroom must be eliminated

As a nerdy, opinionated middle-schooler who mostly surrounded myself with other nerds, I was surprisingly unaware of the biases that affected my teachers and classmates each day. I was well aware of the fact that women were discriminated against in the world, but I always thought of it as a far-off issue, something that didn’t
affect me.

This all changed for me in sixth grade when I read about a study revealing that teachers call on male students in class eight more times than female students. Also, teachers tolerate male students calling out answers in class more than they do for female students.

At first I didn’t believe it. I thought my school must be different. I was friends with very smart girls who were always raising their hands in class and outperforming the boys on tests and the like. I figured the study didn’t apply to my school.

Being the curious kid that I was, though, I decided to look into it in my own classrooms. I kept tallies of every time my teachers called on a student in class and took note of whether the student was a boy or a girl. Well, you can guess how surprised I was when it turned out to be true. Both female and male teachers called on boy students an overwhelming amount more than girl students.

This is just one example of the underlying expectancy biases affecting teachers that they aren’t even aware of. Because the teachers subconsciously believe the boys to have more potential, they call on them more and, as a result, the boys tend to in turn do better in class.

This underlying bias is extremely outdated, seeing as women make up 57 percent of college degree holders, yet for some reason it still affects us. It’s a glass ceiling of classrooms — no matter how smart a girl is, there will always be invisible factors, such as biases, keeping her from climbing to the top.

However, just because this bias makes sense, it’s still not OK. In truth, women have just as much potential to succeed as men and should be treated as such. Teachers need to be aware of the fact that the way they treat female students in elementary and middle school classes will affect them for the rest of their lives.

The fact that still, to this day, teachers are letting these biases affect their classrooms infuriates me. I’m not saying it’s easy to get rid of these biases, but it is something that is essential in order for our society to move forward.