Who is Actually Speaking at All School Meeting?

Julia Natale

All School Meeting is a meeting of traditions: who is that person that always speaks, who is the one that makes good points, and who is it that can’t stay awake? When is the best time to make a comment? There are also specific groups within the school that always speak, e.g., Group Five. From Friday, September 23rd to Wednesday September 28th, I have been taking data at meeting of who is speaking up, categorized by who they are, their gender, and their age.  I also conducted student interviews to see how the Waring community feels about the subject. Here is what I found:

Campbell Boisvert, who is in Group 2, often speaks up at meeting. When asked about why he speaks up often at All School Meeting he said “I like to think that I have something to bring to meeting, but most of the time I feel like filling the long awkward silences that some people bring up at meetings. I don’t know about you, but those quiet moments always feel like a vacuum to me”.  When asked about patterns in age and gender in terms of speaking up, he states  “once you get to juniors and seniors, you start to see them talking in every meeting”. When asked to discuss gender he said, “Gender, I think is interesting in this case. From what I’ve seen, girls are the ones to usually break the ice so to speak. But soon after, the boys, particularly the older boys and male teachers, start to take over the conversation. That’s not to say they monopolize it, but for a school that has a higher female population than a male one, it’s a disturbing trend”

I then talked to Autumn Buhl,  a senior,  about how she feels about participation in meeting.  When asked if she feels she gets interrupted when speaking she states “Um. Yeah. It’s to the point where I don’t really recognize it as something  unusual… but when you stop and think like “oh” its hard to get a full sentence in sometimes,”  and when asked about why she often talks at meeting she states “ Maybe it’s just because I have a big ego, or maybe it’s just how I was raised, but I have always thought that my opinions matter.” She then continued on to say that “ I feel it is important for girls to be speaking up at meeting to prove that yes, it can happen, even if it’s not like ‘I heard a girl speaking at meeting. It changed my life’. We should create a culture where it’s more and more normal. I think it’s very beneficial to the Waring community”

Then, I spoke to Ainsley Kyllingstad, someone who describes herself as almost never speaking at meeting, in fact only 4 or 5 times in her past 6 years at Waring. She says that her lack of participation at meeting is because “ I feel as if I don’t have a lot to say. I get really scared someone is going to disagree with me. In a humanities class it is different because it’s in a zone where you know everybody, where as a senior could be really opposed to what I have to say at meeting and that terrifies me” When asked about a possible imbalance in participation based on gender at meeting she said “ I feel like its gotten more neutral as I’ve gotten older, but I feel like definitely there is a tendency to go against what the females are saying.  I also think it depends on what the meeting is about and how much I know the content”
After taking data during meeting, this is what I found:screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-1-11-12-pm

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