“Bitches, Babes and Bimbos”

Building Bridges, from the Office of Equity and Pluralism, hosted a panel for female Bellevue College faculty members to address gender problems. The panel covered issues women have because of gender discrimination, such as distrust, unfair expectations and leadership qualities.

Female faculty members can be held to different standards in the classroom. “I have noticed that students have different expectations of me than they do of my male colleagues,” says Denise Johnson, a sociology instructor from Bellevue College. “They expect me to be nurturing in a way that I don’t think that they [expect from the] male faculty. They expect me to be motherly. I think there’s not that expectation at all for male faculty members…they’re assumed to be experts.”

Panelists mentioned that this effect can be subconscious. “It’s the kind of view that I didn’t know about,” says Riley Kaijuan, a student attendee. “As a guy I don’t see things the same way that the ladies were saying that they are treated.”

BichesThe discussion also addressed that gender issues happen both in the classroom and the workplace, and sometimes women aren’t credited for their work as individuals “I have been in meeting after meeting where I felt issues that I’ve raised have not been heard,” adds Johnson. “A male faculty member will raise the same issue and immediately be acknowledged, and heard and credited for doing that.”

“It’s about respecting people,” says Gary Hunter, a student at Bellevue College. “It’s about looking at an individual and not judging them but assessing them by who they are. Assessing how they do things and learning from other people.”

“I frequently hear from women on campus that … [women] are doing a large bulk of the committee work, and yet not getting recognized for doing that where there might be faculty members who teach their classes and go home,” comments Johnson. “It would be more common for female faculty members to stay and engage in and doing a lot of college service.”

Common misconceptions about gender roles also affect people in leadership positions. The panel outlined what qualities good leaders have. “Honesty and integrity, decisiveness, inclusion, purpose or vision, encouraging and reflective,” lists Anna Blackstad from Student Services.

“The first day I came [to Bellevue College], they could have sent me to multicultural services but they didn’t. They just sent me away,” says Candy Stewart from Student Programs at Bellevue College “Once I got the job at multicultural services, I remember students of color leaving in the parking lot and we would yell and ask them did they get any help, [and] they said ‘no.’ We would ask them to come back in, and we got them in school.”

The panel also detailed how men can improve gender equality in a social setting. “Notice when women are being interrupted or aren’t included if you have a group or a committee that is homogenous, or [has] any person from an underrepresented group. Building that awareness is really important,” advises Yoshiko Harden, vice president of diversity at Bellevue College. “When women are being referred to with derogatory terms it’s really dismissive.”

For more information on gender and cultural equality, contact the Office of Equity & Pluralism at A201.

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