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Opinion: All college students should take a gender studies class

Understanding gender differences is necessary for both men and women in their everyday and professional lives

gender studies.jpg

"Taking gender studies classes can help with professional opportunities." Illustration published on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. 

Many student may be inclined to think that gender studies classes are useless, especially a STEM or business major who might think that gender studies is irrelevant to their professional life.

Yet, understanding how gender works is more integral to both personal and professional success than one might think.

All college students should take a gender studies class because it equips them with the understanding and awareness of how gender impacts their daily lives. 

While the treatment of women in society has significantly improved, there is still much progress to be made. Women still face disproportionate rates of violence, sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women have been victims of severe physical violence by partners, as compared to one in seven men. Additionally in the U.S., one in five women have reported being raped in their lifetime as compared to one in 71 men. 

The wage gap has also made little progress. According to the a study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, based on 2017 earnings, women still make less than 82 percent compared to their male counterparts. 

Yet, a majority of men are unable to see this gender inequality. 

According to the Lean In study Women in the Workplace 2017, 50 percent of men think women are well-represented in workplace leadership, despite only one in 10 senior leaders being women. 63 percent of men believe that their companies are doing enough to improve gender diversity, but only 49 percent of women feel the same.

Gender plays a much larger role in everyday life that many students may realize, and it's not only men who remain unaware of the importance gender plays in everyone's daily lives.

Rose Weitz, a gender studies professor, said that gender is prevalent in every choice that students make every day.

“The clothes you chose this morning, the amount of time you put into it, the colors you wore, the amount of flesh that was or wasn’t covered and a myriad of things in the first moments of your day were affected by gender,” Weitz said.

It can be difficult to notice gender’s widespread effects because of how heavily gender expectations are embedded into modern society.

“We notice things like girls are expected to wear short skirts or expected to like babies. But it’s hard to notice the ways every interaction is affected,” Weitz said. “There’s a lot in the world we simply take for granted. A gender studies course will provide you with the data and knowledge about the really enormous impact that gender continues to have."

Taking gender studies classes is necessary to understanding what drives behavior, decisions and expectations. Understanding how gender affects the world ultimately leads to a better grasp on how the world works. 

"You need to be able to work with the people around you and you need to be able to navigate a workplace and that surrounding environment," Weitz said. "To do that, you need to know something about people and how our society is structured."

 Reach the columnist at and follow @jfreksodiputro on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the authors’ and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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