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Gender-segregated science classrooms.

Sonya Clark szsclark at chip.ucdavis.edu
Sat May 27 20:21:16 EST 1995

: Hi, all you female scientists!

: 	I'm a education student at the University of Winnipeg, in Manitoba, 
: Canada.  A controversy has recently arisen in our fair city over the 
: proposed segregation of junior-high science and math classes in one of our 
: schools.  We've discussed this at length-- pros and cons-- and I wonder if 
: any of you have any comments.  Did you find that boys were favored over 
: girls in your science and math classes?  Why did you decide to pursue a 
: career in biology if (as this school of ours seems to assume) girls are 
: systematically discouraged from the sciences?  Or is this school of ours 
: making false assumptions about the way girls are treated in science and math 
: classes?
: 	Thanks in advance for any reply
: 	(and I really hope to get one or two--I'm curious!)
: 	Lana Klassen

I think it interesting that many of the people who have replied to this
post are not in favour of gender segregation and felt they did not suffer
from their experiences in mixed science classrooms.  However I would like
to point out that the people who read and post to this board are those who
survived/thrived on their science classes, often because they were
stubborn, determined or contrary, ie. the negative feedback received from
either teachers or other students spurred them to continue rather than
give up, and they are now scientists or aspiring scientists.  My
experience is similar, and I also have personal experience of classes in
which the pressure to give up was just too great.  I moved from a small
country high school to a large urban one when 14.  In the small school
girls were encouraged to take traditionally male-dominated classes and I
particularly enjoyed technical drawing and thought of becoming an
architect.  However on moving to the larger school I was the only girl in
the class and my grades dropped from A's to D's.  I think gender
segregated classrooms could be valuable in creating an environment that
would allow improvements in self confidence for those young women who have
not yet learned how to deal with gender pressures. 

Sonya A. Clark
saclark at ucdavis.edu
Division of Plant Biology
University of California
Davis CA 95616

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