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Gender Gap Response – Clubs NOT to Blame

By: Thomas Wheese

Who’s really at fault for the distinct gender gap within d.tech clubs? Not the clubs themselves.

Photo by Sofya Shatalova

The student gender gap in d.tech clubs is one of the most important, polarizing, and talked about topics at d.tech. Design Tech has a 60 percent male and 40 percent female student body, but there are many clubs with a much greater gender disparity. When seniors Ella Rook and Emily Hom took a look at this problem in December of 2017, they focused on two good examples of this situation: Robotics and d.Leadership. Robotics has an approximately 75 percent male and 25 percent female split, and d.Leadership holds nearly a 20 percent male and 80 percent female makeup. But are the clubs themselves to blame for these sharp gender gaps? Absolutely not.

One reason for the lack of female representation on the Robotics team outlined by Rook and Hom is the hostile work environment that involves favoritism amongst student leaders, and the exclusion of girls on the team. While this might be what some members and outsiders observe, not everybody feels this way. The Head of Design for the team, Anya Karanov, said that “I’m a girl on the team and I don’t think I’ve ever been ‘discriminated [against]’ because of that. If there was ever a time that I felt a lack of involvement, it was because I was choosing that for myself.” There is one big difference, however, that was not directly mentioned in the original Dragon piece: the clubs’ application processes.

“I’m a girl on the team and I don’t think I’ve ever been ‘discriminated [against]’ because of that. If there was ever a time that I felt a lack of involvement, it was because I was choosing that for myself.” -Anya Karanov, Head of Design 

While these are both clubs that require applications, robotics will admit anyone who expresses an interest, whereas d.Leadership hopefuls must go through an interview process, and may not be selected. It’s interesting then, that of the applicants (40 girls and 15 boys), the makeup of members is 39 girls and 8 boys. Co-President Ashley Chen explains by saying, “We don’t look at gender when looking at who to admit. It just happens that most of the people applying with quality applications and clear dedication are girls.” They can’t control the people that apply, and if the more suitable applicants are girls, it’s not the fault of d.Leadership.

Wayne Brock, the Robotics lead mentor and Engineering teacher at d.tech, stresses the importance of female inclusion. “We wouldn’t have a robot, or a team with community outreach or a strong brand, without the girls that are making all these things happen and contributing more than most of the boys. The importance of females in robotics needs to be emphasized, and hopefully we can get more girls involved once that happens,” says Brock.

Neither organization is actively discouraging people from applying, and it seems that the real problem lies in a lack of proper advertisement. Though the Robotics team and d.Leadership can certainly work on making themselves more welcoming to all students, at a certain point, we may need to admit that without affirmative action, more girls will join leadership and more boys will join robotics, which isn’t the fault of these two clubs.

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