By: Ella Rook and Emily Hom
“Who runs the world? Girls!” Though some d.tech clubs seem to agree with Beyonce, others march to a different beat. d.tech is known for our respectful and inclusive spirit, but recently staff members and students have noticed a gender disparity within school clubs and teams. Although d.tech’s ratio of female to male students is approximately 40 to 60 percent, the number of girls on the robotics team and boys in d.leadership is extremely small. It is necessary for clubs and teams to have a gender balance to ensure the respectfulness and inclusiveness that d.tech is known for.
B.R.E.A.D. is d.tech’s robotics team, and similar to most other robotics teams, there is a disproportionate number of males to females. B.R.E.A.D. is trying to encourage females to join by having a low barrier to entry; no prior programming or fabrication knowledge is needed. However, if this team is seemingly all-inclusive, how come this year there are merely 14 female students, four of which work on the robot, compared to the 53 male students? When asked about the apparent discrepancy, Robotics Programming Lead, senior Michael Bentley replied “I don’t think it really makes much of a difference,” and that girls are “generally less interested in robotics related stuff.” However, when provided with the opportunity to learn in girls-only tech-related intersessions, or embark on Oracle internships, girls jump at the opportunity. Senior Nick Dal Porto, Robot Technical Lead, said it is important to empower women, as they are “underrepresented in the STEM field.”
Long time robotics member, junior Yohanna Konardi shared her experience, saying “I honestly don’t think I have everyone’s respect on the team still.” Though Konardi isn’t completely sure this is because she is a girl, second year senior robotics member Whitney Wisnom said “I showed up to all of the meetings and they didn’t really let me do anything because I’m a girl… it was awful.” Senior robotics member Katie Toye recalled when she was condescendingly asked “if I know how to use a screwdriver.” Robotics Coach Wayne Brock feels that correcting the gender imbalance is a “high priority” and has put forth initiatives to aid in his mission, including putting girls in leadership positions, and finding a female engineering mentor. He believes the “more diverse representation on your team, the better it is going to be.”
However, the robotics team isn’t the only group with a puzzling gender disparity. d.tech’s d.leadership club includes 43 female and eight male students, with every leadership position held by a girl. d.leadership Co-President Courtney Sullivan Wu expressed that when interviewing male students she has to explain to them that “it’s not going to be as easy going as they expect it to be,” because they perceive leadership as “not serious.” Even though it’s understandable d.leadership only wants to accept the most qualified applicants, a club that aims to engage the community must represents the entire school. The solution to this gender imbalance will be multi-faceted, including more community recognition and knowledge about the club’s important work, and a push to encourage more male students to apply.
Head club advisor Melissa Mizel, concerned about the imbalance, said “I think it boils down to a lack of mindfulness to those disparities,” and believes that each club should form its own course of action to address the issue. In the wise words of Beyonce, “we have a lot of work to do, but we can get there if we work together.”