Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gender differences in middle school clubs

Read these two middle school club descriptions and take a quiz on how boys and girls in this school are treated.
History Club – Mr. X
The History Club runs the annual National Geography Bee, as well as other activities during the year. We have "Historical Movie" nights where we show movies based on historical events (Pearl Harbor, The Alamo, etc). During these nights we serve pizza and soda. We have enjoyed Saturday field trips to West Point and other historical places.
International Club – Ms. Y and Ms. Z
The International Club is designed to promote sensitivity, understanding, and an appreciation of one another and what makes all people so special. The members are involved in activities such as discussion sessions on cultural topics, culinary lessons, and excursions to museums, theaters, special libraries, and the United Nations.
  1. How many gender stereotypes can you find in the club descriptions?
  2. Which club attracts more boys, and which attracts more girls?
  3. Do you think the clubs are designed to target specific genders, or does this just occur by happenstance?
  4. Is it a good idea to organize these club around specific interests that may appeal to one particular gender?  If not, what changes would you make to these clubs?
  5. What came first, the chicken or the egg?
I'll hold my opinions, but . . .

I will say I was put off by this part of the International Club description:  "what makes all people so special".  This is definitely not a club to which I would be attracted, but my mindset is far removed from that of a typical middle school girl.  A recent graduate of this school district tells me that he thinks the International Club description comes closer to capturing the overall tone of their social studies curriculum.

In answer to question number 2, last time I checked the History Club mainly attracts boys and the International Club mainly attracts girls.

Related:  Gender disparity at the geography bee


  1. I am actually disturbed by your description of the history club. It doesn't sound like what we thought. M was all excited to do it, but didn't realize that it was going to focus on war movies. I think the international club may be much more to his liking (although the sensitivity stuff sounds pretty drecky).
    E would go for the war movies though, as would N.

  2. Oh, and is doing the cooking club right now. The club coordinator actually called when he registered and warned me that he would be the only boy. I asked him, and he said he didn't care, and so far he is really liking it.

    Why are kids so gender-straitjacketed in our district anyway? M does the cooking class at Concordia in the summer, which is always 50-50. The elementary school cooking club is pretty much the same thing, so why is it so skewed in favor of girls? Hmmm, I have a suspicion - our totally retro teachers who see everything through gender lenses.

  3. Why are kids so gender-straitjacketed in our district anyway?

    I don't think I've seen much of this, at least more than is typical elsewhere. As long as the club coordinator did not express her concern about your S to him, then I'm fine with her calling you about it.

    I'm okay with boys and girls being separated for some activities. But I don't like the idea of separating them for history club, if that's what is happening here. I am curious as to how this came about.