By Suzan Michalski '18
Anyone who attends Government Club for several meetings will quickly observe a significant difference in behavior between NCS girls and STA boys. During the first half of the meeting, which is a time for members to give speeches arguing their point of view on the evening’s topic, speakers are far more often boys than girls. During the moderated caucus, the number of times that STA students speak significantly outnumbers the number of times that NCS students speak.
There are a variety of reasons that could inhibit people from speaking up, the two most common being a lack of confidence and a lack of preparedness. I know from my experiences that NCS girls are well-informed. In my daily life, I hear conversations all around me that demonstrate NCS girls’ remarkable attention to current events and political issues. Furthermore, the girls who attend Government Club attend because they are passionate about the issues discussed in the club. Yet, I have witnessed a clear disparity between NCS girls and STA boys in their participation in Government Club discussions.
During the last school year, the NCS Government Club presidents, Eva Phelps and Alexa Perlmutter, decided to take action to encourage NCS participation. They began hosting pre-meeting discussion groups for NCS girls, in which we would examine the evening’s topic and brainstorm possible points and questions for us to use during the meeting. Whenever we held these discussions, there was a significant increase in the number of times that NCS girls stood up to speak in Government Club.
Observing this gave me a deeper insight into what inhibits people from standing up and voicing their thoughts. During the pre-discussion meetings, everyone felt comfortable with one another.Everyone knew each other, and it was a smaller, more intimate, and less formal setting. Government Club is quite the opposite. To be placed into a large club full of STA boys and with a much higher degree of structure and formality can be rather intimidating.
However, the STA boys in Government Club surely face the same situation. How come many of them still manage to participate actively during the meetings? There is no clear-cut reason why,but STA students generally seem to assert their right to speak more actively than NCS students.For one, higher levels of testosterone in males increases risk-taking behavior; by nature, they certainly have a higher tendency to be assertive. In my view, social upbringing also plays a key role; some girls are often subtly, or even actively, discouraged from being too bold or assertive