Gender and Writing

Over the past several years of teaching creative writing at a public school, I've noticed that there's a big difference in the number of young women v. young men who take the class. I turned the numbers into an inquiry assignment, and here are some of the results. (The essays below were picked to show a range of grade levels, not because of any special writing quality or position.)

THE ASSIGNMENT: Most years the school runs two creative writing classes per semester: one at the honors level and one at the foundations level. The average class size is twenty, which means about eighty students take creative writing each school year. Some years, more classes are offered; other years, fewer classes are offered.

     Over the past five years, creative writing teacher Rob Greene has noticed a trend: more female students take creative writing classes than do male students.
     Your task has three parts.
    Part one, read through the attached articles and data.
    Part two, based on the attached articles and data, come up with a single sentence (hypothesis) that explains why more women than men take Creative Writing class at South. For example: “More women than men take Creative Writing class because ….”
    Part three, defend your hypothesis in a five-paragraph persuasive essay, using selections and examples from the attached articles and data.

A. Author: Sophomore, female
More women than men take Creative Writing because men are given less opportunity to explore their creative personalities. Over the last few years, it has been made clear that there is a dramatic writing gap between women and men. In the 2010-2011 school year, 59% of 71 students who have taken Creative Writing classes were females, and only a small, 41% were males. The year prior, had a total of 62 Creative Writing students. 69% were female, and 31% male. It is clear that after the past few years, it is more common for females to take Creative Writing, over males.

Many people are beginning to believe that this gender gap is becoming worrisome. Statistically speaking, males are generally farther behind in writing, than females but females are statistically behind males, in math and science. Experts say, “it’s worrisome, because businesses and higher education stakeholders name the ability to write well as a crucial skill for success in the workforce and in college.”

While this stands true, other experts consistently work at researching the reasoning behind this gender gap exists. Some believe that educators lack to give writing assignments that engage not only female, but male interest. It is also said that “many educators are reluctant to allow boys to explore controversial subject matter.” One way of engaging males in writing, is by “giving them ‘authentic’ writing prompts, which allows them to take ownership in their writing,” said Mary Buckelew.

In my opinion the main reason that less males take Creative Writing classes, than females, is because they are given less opportunity to explore their creative personalities. In some instances, especially school, males are often discouraged from writing about the topics that interest them. This may be the case for multiple reasons, but I personally believe a lot of it has to do with concern of violent or inappropriate writing. “It is not that boys don’t have stories to write, but what they’re interested in is suppressed,” said Dianne Piche’, former Title I writing tutor and current executive director of the Citizens’Commission on Civil Rights. Some of the hesitancy of teachers to pursue males to write about the topics that interest them, are ongoing concerns about school and student safety.

As the gender gap, in Creative Writing classes, or writing in general, continues to grow; educators, tutors, etc. should find a variety of ways to encourage males to participate in the writing world. One way, in which, they could do so is by letting the male students right freely, if they have no interest in the topic they are initially told to write about. Other ways, is to try giving writing exercises that engage males’ interests, rather than having students right about what is only appealing to females. I believe if tactics like this are used more frequently, in time the gender gap will even itself out and have about 50% both, males and females in Creative Writing class.

B. Author: Senior, female
More women take creative writing class than men because writing appeals more to women than it does to men.

The graphs shown on page two of the packet clearly shows that creative classes are more likely to be filled with female writers than with male writers, and women make up over half of all total classes. This may be due to the fact that boys have been taught to focus their attention on subjects such as math and science rather than writing. According to an article written by Stephen Sawchuk, boys are falling far behind girls in the writing sections of standardized testing. The article suggests that these scores may be due to the fact that there is a lower expectation for boys to perform well on the writing section of these tests because they “do not possess an aptitude for writing equal to girls”.

The study also showed that although the boys are outscoring the girls in both math and science sections of these standardized tests. However, the gap between the gender’s scores in these sections is much smaller. Amanda Avallone, a teacher from Colorado, suggested that there is a myth that while girls are encouraged to focus on improving in science and math, the boys are not taught to improve their writing as they “won’t really need to write very much or very well once they leave school”.

In addition to the lack of encouragement towards writing, boys may be discouraged from writing when they are not interested in the subject matter. An article from Education Daily states that “it’s not that boys don’t have stories to write, but what they’re interested in is suppressed”. Boys are often more interested in violent stories that involve fighting, weapons, and killing than girls are. Unfortunately for boys, writing violent stories is discouraged and their interest drops in writing because they are not allowed to write about what they would like. Dianne Piche, a writing tutor, believes that boys show more enthusiasm about writing when they are allowed to express their interests in these types of stories.

Not only are boys not allowed to write about topics they would like, most cannot relate to the topics present in stories written by female authors. A study conducted by researchers at Queen Mary College revealed that more men were likely to read a novel written by another man, than they were to read a novel written by a woman. Researchers believed that this is because boys only want to read about other boys, while women will generally read about boys or girls without preference. Piche also believes that while in school, boys are not subjected to books and literature that catches their interest as much as girls, which diminishes their interest in writing. Experts believe that teachers generally have a tendency to give writing assignments that will engage the female students more than the male students, according to Sawchuk.

In today’s school systems, boys are not being encouraged to participate in writing as often as their counterparts, which diminishes their interest in the subject all together. Writing often appeals more to women than to men because their writing skills were nurtured in school and they were better able to relate to the given literature. Perhaps if the curriculum was adjusted to better suit a boy’s interests, more men would be interested in a creative writing class.

C. Author: Senior, Male
When it comes down to it, more women are interested in creative writing than men because the men are discouraged. It’s just not what they do, not only are they expected to not care, but they also are not interested in the subjects provided for them to write about. They also are wired to do, not think in the way that writing requires.

Men are taught from birth to be manly and to do manly things. They are taught to push aside emotions and repress. Writing causes them to do exactly what they were taught not to do. When writing, men find themselves forced to do everything that they were taught not to; because that’s what writing is, a thing that requires emotion, feeling, and laying one’s soul on the line. Guys feel uncomfortable when doing that, so naturally they would prefer to avoid such a situation if possible. Only a small fraction of dudes actually want to write, while most would just gripe and complain. They complaining in itself is also expected by men. Alone, without anyone to ever know, men might display emotions in the way that girls do a on a daily basis, but will never admit to it. No man would admit that they have feelings without losing a portion of their manliness. It might make them seem more sensitive, but in the end, that is not what guys are expected to be like.

Sure, even if guys were totally interested in writing, they might still have difficulty concentrating due to the topics provided, because they are not about what guys are interested. By nature, men are wired to be logical and visually oriented, emotions are not our thing. So when provided with such things as analyzing the emotion between this character or thinking about this or that love triangle, naturally we are already less interested. English generally comes to avoid such topics like explosions or violence. That’s not what English is all about. The best literary works are usually about the characters, the emotions, and the situations they are placed in. Guys are a little bit interested in this, but we would really love to analyze the plot instead. Think of a chick flick; that kind of movie is filled with emotion, well-defined characters, and unusual situations. While a thriller, a classic guy movie, is mostly plot. Most guys love thrillers and only use chick flicks for girls so naturally they would be disinterested in what English currently offers for them.

Girls, on the other hand, love this stuff. That’s just who they are. Naturally they would be interested in English seeing how it is filled with emotion and interesting characters. They are expected to like that kind of thing and generally do. English asks the kind of questions they were already thinking about answering. Compared to the insensitive boys, girls have emotions and display them. Gendered roles teach them to be sensitive, heck, there is even the term girly which is commonly associated with glittery and ponies.

In the end, guys are still guys and girls are still girls. Males are less interested in what English has to offer because they are expected to and therefore are. Girls on the other hand know that they are supposed to display emotion and do in the emotion laden thing called English. I myself, a male, find myself detached from this essay, trying to leave out emotion unless I have to.

D. Author: Freshman, female
More females take Creative Writing as opposed to males because most females read more and write better than most men.

A Creative Writing class at South is most likely to have more women enroll in than men for several reasons. For one, females are, generally speaking, better writers than males as a whole. Females also take more interest in reading than most men do. Lastly, women are less picky about what they read or write about. These three points will explain why men are less likely to enroll in a Creative Writing class.

Firstly, females are typically better writers than men based off of test scores and other bits of evidence. For example, National Center for Education Statistics graphs that eighth grade scores prove female scores are, on average, higher than males’ score by twenty or more points since 1998. Humans naturally want to enroll in a class that they know they’ll be able to pass with distinction, so females, generally having the natural air of writing, will want to enroll more than males will.

Next, most females take more interest in reading creative stories (or just reading in general) than most men do. The Observer gives a possible explanation why. Apparently, out of two-thousand people, 48% of women are avid readers, as opposed to the mere 26% for men. Also, of the people who only read one or two books a year, 32% are men, and only 18% are women. Based on these statistics, one can see that women seem to read more than men. When you read a lot, naturally, one would be better at writing, and probably have more interest in taking a writing class.

Finally, females are typically less particular about what they read and write about, which ties into the class’s title “Creative Writing”. On top of reading less than most women, an average man’s reading/writing subject is more small-scaled. For example, “” mentions that most boys like reading about male heroes or main characters, whereas girls are open to both. Also, based on “Authentic Prompts” from Education Daily, “Some hesitancy of the teachers to encourage writing” about more “boyish” or “masculine” topics would stop boys from doing so. Based on Education Daily, most males (by the high school age) have written stories about things they like already, such as explosions, pirates, swordfights, and some sense of violence. Most males have probably been scolded or told to rewrite something by the school as well. This censoring gives the wrong message to creative male writers, and would, in total, discourage them from joining a creative writing class, especially one offered by the school.

So, as you can see, more females are likely to enroll in the next Creative Writing class south as offered, as opposed to males. This is because females typically write better, read more, and read/write less discriminately than males do. All of these factors will combine and result in less boys wanting to join a Creative Writing class than females.

E. Author: Junior, male
More woman take Creative Writing as a class then men do because woman are more apt to be drawn in to fictional worlds and love to create made-up, fictional possibilities.More woman are apt to read, and/or write, a lot more than men, for many simple reasons. One reason is men have things to do. If you changed this survey and made it “Do men or woman have more time to sit down and write”, woman would still win, simply because men are a lot busier and have more important things to do than write, or read. The survey by Vanessa Thorpe targets men directly on being too lazy to read more than woman.

The facts are there, but they don’t really prove her point on reading. She says “Forty-eight percent of woman can be considered to be Page Turners, or avid readers, compared with only twenty-six percent of men.” Okay, well that’s not a bad thing for men. I wouldn’t want to be a “page skimmer”, I would much rather sit down and take my time with a book, which leads me to my next statement from her article, I quote, “ Slow worms are those who spend a long time reading, but who take their books very seriously and always finish the,. They can often manage only one or two books a year. This group was made up by thirty-two percent of the male respondents, and eighteen percent of the women respondents.” I find she isn’t doing herself justice here. She is saying that men take their time and take their books seriously, while woman are just page turners.

Back to the discussion about writing though. All that I’m saying is I don’t think women write more than men in general, and if they do it’s because they can make up fictional situations a lot easier than any man could sit down to do, with the exception of a few great men, (Steven Spielberg, Kevin Smith (Whom is responsible for the Askewniverse)). The article Literature’s Gender Gap byLaura Miller speaks well. May we just note though, that both articles that I have pointed out so far were written by women. This article talks about a group of women who got together and looked at the statistics for books being reviewed, and who their written by (men or women).

It just proves the point I am trying to make easily, because she says “Franklin (One of the women checking the statistics) was chagrined to find that only thirty-three percent of the books she reviewed last year were by women.” She then goes on to quote Franklin herself in saying that “Magazines are reviewing female authors in something close tot he proportion of books by woman each year. The question now becomes why more books by woman are not getting published.” Well that’s a simple answer Franklin, more books by women aren’t getting published because they aren’t entertaining.

Going back to my original hypothesis, the women that Franklin is complaining about, how they don’t get published enough as men, is because they shouldn’t be writing at all. I am going to sound completely sexist here in trailing back to my hypothesis, but the woman who do have more time than men to sit down and create their fictional worlds, really don’t have time at all. They should be busy cleaning, or doing something useful in the kitchen, not sitting down, writing a book, and then complaining about how their book wasn’t published but a Male's book was, when really, that woman shouldn’t have had enough time to sit down and write a book in the first place.

That is all I really have to say about all of this right now, I thank you for your time and I hope I don’t sound like the most sexist man on the planet, but in all actuality I don’t really care.

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