Surrounded by Females


photo by Katie Golden

Richard Jensen, Reporter

On the first day of school, I walked into fourth period Journalism, looking for someone to sit with. The room was dark and stormy. Dim lamps illuminated circular patches of the gray walls, occasionally flickering like lightning. Rows of black, wheeled chairs lined each side of the rectangular room in front of mustard-colored desks. Sleek iMac computers, all powered off, rested in front of each chair. They were practically begging for someone to sit down in front of them and tip over backwards due to the fragile engineering of the seats.

The original atmosphere of the newsroom was very intimidating, especially after I observed that the vast majority of the class was distinctly female. There was just one other boy meekly sitting in the corner, focusing his attention on the computer (which was powered off and had a black screen). He didn’t last long, having dropped the class by the next day.

My immediate expectations of the year instantly flew towards uncomfortable silence and segregation in seating orientation. Images of me meekly crouching in a corner while everyone else gossiped about school happenings flashed through my mind. Some parts of my predictions came true, while others proved me wrong.

Despite the apparent alienation, gender only plays a limited role in the world of journalism. While girls may be more inclined to write articles concerning fashion, cosmetics, and makeup, there are many gender-neutral topics and happenings around the school. For example, anyone in the class could write something related to the stresses of AP exams, interview a teacher, or talk about a varsity sport team. I have never felt pressured into redirecting my interests despite the gender imbalance in my class.

Within the class period, the topic of conversation sometimes shifts into areas where there is a gap in my knowledge. Cosmetics is probably the most often discussed area. There must be a methodological science behind hairstyle and makeup that is beyond my comprehension. Comments regarding clothing, fashion, and the school dress code also fly over my head, which is what I anticipated during the first weeks of class.

However, there are many parts of being the minority that I did not expect. Occasionally, I feel awkward when the conversation strays into dangerous territory.  For example, I now know what a specialty bra is and where I can purchase one; however, I’m not sure what to do with this information. I’ve also heard about gynecologist appointments and how men ruined World War II. Furthermore, rants over the properties of birth control are semi-frequent.

At the end of the day, though, the gender difference doesn’t bother me at all. I expected to be isolated from conversations, but even though I may not have certain adequate background knowledge to be a knowledgeable participant in some conversations, I have no difficulty being a part of the class. There are many topics that aren’t treacherous to write and converse about. While it was more noticeable the first week, over the school year I have felt more and more comfortable in class, even though the conversation sometimes wanders into foggy areas. The experience of being a journalist has thus been enjoyable for me.