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A Difference Maker in Classroom Management is the Teacher’s Gender

Is there really a difference between how female teachers are treated vs male teachers? The RAHS community sees differences in how students respond to teachers based on gender.

When we imagine our teachers we mostly get the image of a woman imprinted in our head. This is probably because of who we grew up seeing as our teachers, mostly white women. But have we ever stopped to think about how our female teachers get treated in the classroom? What is their experience and is there really a difference between how female teachers get treated vs Male teachers? Women get discriminated against in many ways in our world and the teaching field being one of them. We need to dive deeper into how teachers are feeling and how respect plays a role in the classroom.

Many people note differences in how female versus male teachers are treated by students in the classroom. Mr. Erik Lane, a teacher at RAHS said, “I think my gender tends to lend towards students being less likely to outrightly disrespect me … from what I’ve experienced” 

In comparison Ms. Theilacker, a French teacher at RAHS and RAMS, confirms Mr. Lane’s belief that females are treated differently by students.  She said, “I see a lot of disrespectful behavior in my class. I believe my students respect me; however, I don’t think that they realize how disrespectful their behavior is. By behaviors I mean excessive talking, not listening when I redirect them or ignoring my instructions”

Theilacker attributes part of the problem to gender dynamics.  She added,”I do think being a woman does make it more difficult to be heard by my students…Perhaps there are some male teachers that have the same experiences as I do, however, I imagine in general men get better behaviors.”

These responses are also common in students. Many students believe that in their classrooms their female teachers are disrespected more than their male teachers. Naomi Bretz, a freshmen student at RAHS confirmed this by saying “I feel as though male teachers are respected more in the classroom, even though I have one male teacher.” 

Another student Summer Balfanz, who goes by Sam, also confirmed that this treatment doesn’t only occur in the classroom but also outside of the classroom. “I have noticed outside of the classroom a lot of my guy friends are more likely to complain about their female teachers in a way that almost feels like they are blaming them in a way they don’t blame their male teachers… I think there is a standard that women teachers are held to that male teachers aren’t.”

In a study done by Amani El-Alayl at Eastern Washington University, she found that students are more likely to ask their female teachers for special accommodations relating to their academics. She found this by asking 88 professors in the US.

When Amani El-Alayl did another study this time with 121 students that were in college, she found that students were also more likely to ask their female teachers for special accommodations and then also get upset after being opposed by those teachers. They found that this happens when the students are presumptuous and the expectation that their female teachers should agree with what they are asking for. 

Ms. Theilacker confirmed the same views as the study had entailed, “I’m just not as threatening as a male, I believe.”  

Mr. Jamin Cook, a behavioral interventionist (BI) at RAHS said, “You do see more disrespect from students directed towards female staff members for sure… I feel like a lot of our calls are calls that are in need of assistance in female classrooms. Kids just don’t try male teachers as they try female teachers…We have a strong female BI on our staff… So kids don’t try her as much as they try other female staff.”

The amount of time that it takes a class to give their full attention to the teacher is crucial in laying the bases for respect. There is an indisputable difference in the way that teachers feel when it comes to how long it takes to require attention from students in the classroom. 

Ms. Theilacker established this when she said, “On average it takes 10-60 seconds for a class to quiet down. It just depends on the class.” 

Versus Mr. Lane who said, “It always depends on the room…Most of the time I would say no. It doesn’t take a long…time”

Many students and staff have the belief that female teachers get treated differently in a way that male teachers do not. Like many ways in the world, sexism is very real and exists in all parts including our school community. Paying attention to how teachers feel and being conscious of the way that the school community needs to alter to make it a place where all teachers, especially female teachers can feel respected is key.

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About the Contributor
Aryana Berhane
Aryana Berhane, Junior Editor
Hello! My name is Aryana Berhane, I'm in ninth grade. I am a junior editor for the Ville Newspaper. Some of my hobbies are reading, boxing, watching Gilmore Girls, and drinking pumpkin spice lattes. I am involved in student council, Black student union, yearbook, and debate. I love to write about important issues that are affecting our community and our world. I'm excited to be a part of our newspaper community. Let's get to writing!

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