By Nola Minogue
The New York Times recently published an article citing the difficulties women have been facing in Zoom meetings- a meeting that’s supposed to be an equalizer for all members. But does this occur in the classroom?
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, schools went on halt, forced to switch to learning via Zoom and Google Hangouts.
“Students mostly watch and ask questions,” said Beverly High School junior Alexia Vayeous. “[Yet] contrary to meeting in real life, the females are usually the ones to ask the most questions in the Google Meets. In actual class, most of the boys are older and thus more experienced with chemistry, so girls are more hesitant to speak out.”
A chemistry class she observed showed that female students asked questions of a 2:1 ratio to boys, “Girls are sometimes cut off by boys, but I believe this is only because the boys don’t hear the girls beginning to speak.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 76 percent of public school teachers were female and 24 percent were male in the 2017-2018 school year. Dr. Julia Lisella, a Professor of English at Regis College, taught her class through Zoom meetings after the campus shut its doors on March 15th.
“In the upper level classes, the students who are generally quiet doesn’t seem to go by their gender or race,” said Lisella. “It tends to go by how comfortable they feel in the major.”
In smaller classes, it’s easier to spot the students who are quieter and need a push to speak up. When her classes went online, Lisella tried to make sure everyone was heard. “There's a lot of reasons why people keep [their] video off- so that they can be shy. I was trying to be attentive to the people who didn’t want to be seen. I respect that if you’re not feeling presentable today, for whatever reason, you didn’t do your hair or are still in your pajamas, that’s fine, but I will call on you.”
Lisella knows that the “great hope of online learning is that it’s a great equalizer, yet that might not be true. It’s very easy to interrupt each other on Zoom.”
Photo Credit: https://zoom.us/about
According to thecatalyst.org, even though women make up almost half of the labor force in the United States, only 40 percent were managers in 2018, and only five percent were CEOs in S&P 500 companies. There is a drastic difference between whom the authority figure is in a classroom compared to the business world.
Women are no stranger to interruptions within physical meetings, as a study by George Washington University found. Men interrupted women 33 percent more often than when they spoke with other men. In the setting of online meetings, this trend is amplified, as with everyone getting used to Zoom, traditional gender roles are coming back into play.
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Above: a look into gender interruptions in meetings
Photo Credit: https://www.scotusblog.com/2017/04/legal-scholarship-highlight-justice-interrupted-gender-ideology-seniority-supreme-court/