Gender and Class Participation

Leilani-Jade Pecher –

To put things into context, this article and its title call for a brief explanation about the convocation lead by Ms. Debra Houghtaling, “Being Entrepreneurial.”


I had planned on going to this convo for a couple of weeks and fortunately was able to make it. At the time, I thought I would only take back important and key concepts about business, not about life. The part of the convo that really left an impression on me was when Ms. Houghtaling gave a simple piece of advice to the ladies, “raise your hand.”

Raise your hand? That sounds incredibly easy. Well, in theory maybe. Let’s put this into perspective.

I’m going to ask you a quick question. Is there one full week where everyone participates in every class, all of the time? Remember those times when professors called or hinted for a class discussion, and nobody says anything? Yes, those instances happen every week. We’ve all been there. Sure, there’s always the one or two students that end up doing most of the talking (Been there and done that, too). However, an interesting but saddening statistic is that women are the ones most likely to be the ones not raising their hands. Not only in high school, but college and beyond.

How could this be? Growing up, I have always experienced being around girls and women who participated and were essentially the type of people to “raise their hand.” It came as a shock to find out that women in particular were affected by this “norm” of not speaking up.

This did not make sense to me. However, I was speaking on behalf of my experience as the type of female student who raised their hand, almost all of the time. This concept is important for not only women, but for everyone who has something to share.

Raising your hand is a simple but important gesture. It communicates: I am listening. I wonder. I question. I have something intelligent and interesting to share. Of course, we all get into situations which may cause us not to participate. Maybe it’s the “I didn’t read the chapter/study” situation. This happens to all of us. However, it is even more of a mistake to not question what is being explained about the chapter or concept, in order to get a better understanding.

We all need to take the initiative to raise our own hand. Nobody is going to read those questions we have by reading our minds. Nobody will be astounded by the thoughts going through our minds if we do not share them. I urge both the ladies and gentlemen to speak their minds, appropriately of course.

Ladies, according to statistics, we are the ones to not participate. For now, this may be true, but let’s start proving this theory wrong. The advice, as a student who enjoys raising their hand, is that it is not only rewarding to your grade to do this, but by participating and speaking up you will be rewarded with various experiences and will expand your mind. There may be moments like, “…that sounded a lot better in my head,” when you participate. Guess what? Laugh it off. You may have a brilliant idea, but you might think of keeping it to yourself. Do not do this. Turn heads with your brilliance.

Be the one that inspires everyone else to raise their hand.


Leilani-Jade Pecher, from Lakewood, Wash. is a sophomore double-majoring in Communications and Management and Organizational Leadership. Leilani is the Director of PR & Advertising and writer for The Rambler. She is the Vice-President for the Coalition for Ethnic Awareness, PR for Enactus, and a member of several clubs.


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