This past week I attended my first class for Identity Politics. When I enrolled in the class, I was provided with some information pertaining to the structure of the course, such as the course description, the days and times for this course, and how many credits the course is. However, one important detail left from the courses’ introduction: Who is the professor for Identity Politics?
So, when I walked into the class, I sat in suspense, wondering who would teach this class? Was it going to be a Political Science teacher who I had in the past and thoroughly enjoyed, or someone I never took a class with. That’s when Ms. Nina Barnes strolled into class.
I was surprised. It is a rarity for Political Science students, such as myself, to enjoy a class taught by a woman. Throughout the class, we covered how identity plays in everyday life. We discussed the automatic, and often subconscious, judgment people feel when viewing someone of a different race or gender. As we expanded this conversation, Ms. Barnes asked us to participate in a poll.
“How many of you in this class, through the duration of your university career, have had more than five teachers that are women?”
We surveyed the room without a positive result and then dwindled the variable of “five women teachers” to four, then down to three, then just two, and eventually to only one. We came to the uncomfortable conclusion that virtually all of us in this room had little to no experience with a female professor.
This survey only accounts for a small population of the student body, and it is within a specific major, political science. However, in further discussing this troublesome fact, we realized that there is a shortcoming in the gender diversity of SUU’s faculty. This is worrisome because our education is being dominated through the lens of men. Their teachings often reflect their personal experience and their personal experience is based on the fact that they are male.
I would like to bring this issue to the attention of the SUU student body. I want those who read this letter to reflect on their own experiences at SUU and their personal lives. For myself, I have come to the realization that a lack of women in leadership positions not only is reflected in my university experience, but in my work life as well.
Perhaps with awareness, we can change the landscape of leadership positions to be more inclusive and equitable for both genders.
Submitted by: Danielle Meuret
Photo courtesy of: SUU Marketing & Communication