Everyone knows the “Loma ratio” exists, but not everyone experiences it. Statistics on the PLNU website show almost twice as many females enrolled at PLNU than males. This ratio is obvious for male students in the nursing program, but not for females like sophomore information systems major Ashley Manzo, who experiences an overwhelming male presence in business classes. Manzo says that the atmosphere shifts in business classrooms, because “once they step through the door, guys talk louder, shake hands harder.”
As a female-dominated college, PLNU’s playing field is fairer than most. Regardless, Manzo witnesses a “competition of image rather than a competition of competency.” In an experience-based field like business, gender is irrelevant, and female professors are proof. Although male professors teach Manzo’s business classes, her math classes are led by females. Manzo says she feels empowered by her female professors because they remind her, “I’m on the same playing field.”
Much like business, competition in the nursing program is intense. Junior nursing major Jonathan Gomez says all nursing majors experience this, but for males, there is additional pressure. Gomez says, “It’s not out of malintent, but it’s intimidating.”
It is a nerve-wracking environment, not only because of the rigorous program but because in a typical nursing class of 40 to 45 students, only about three are males. Gomez says that in the medical field, “Most of the doctors are men and act like they’re top shot. They don’t truly understand what these women are doing and how smart they are.”
This is where Gomez feels differently, and he says that he is excited when female nurses can teach him things, especially since most of his professors are female. Regardless of added pressure, Gomez’s passion for nursing stands strong, and he says, “It’s not bad intentions, they just want the best of the best.”
PLNU alumna Parris Ratner graduated with a degree in Sociology and is now the assistant resident director in Finch Hall. Her alumna status and her sociological studies give her a unique perspective on gender roles at PLNU. She says, “We bring our own experiences to the classroom. That’s different person to person, and then you get down to gender and it’s even more different.”
As graduates move into the workplace, the wage gap looms, another reminder of gender inequality. Like both Manzo and Gomez, Ratner says that respecting different levels of experience and perspectives are the most important factors in creating an equal environment. She says, “Some people want the traditional way and that’s fine. Some people want progress, and that’s also fine. I think it needs to be more emphasized that you have the power to choose and you have the power to change it also.”
Society is so divided, especially in terms of gender, but if we want to challenge these stereotypes, there is no better time than now, right here in our classrooms.