being the only girl in the room

A few weeks ago I started making observations about the demographics of my classes.

There always seem to be the same kind of people in each class I take. The majority of the students are white males – most of them are quiet and awkward but there are usually a handful of bros. There are one or two foreign guys who don’t speak a lot of English. If I’m not the only woman in the class then there’s usually only one other and she’s quiet and looks confused (or is obnoxiously loud about how confused and frustrated she is). And then of course me.

I haven’t run into any terribly overt sexism here, which I’m thankful for. But what I’ve realized is that I’m almost invisible; so it’s not that anyone is trying hard to be mean to me, they just aren’t trying to be anything at all to me. Mostly this results in me just not chatting during class, but there have been occasions where the students and even professors will say things that strike me as very “guys only” things to say. Things like “oh keep girls away from my video games, that’s man time” while I’m sitting right there clearly interested in tech/gaming etc…. they aren’t trying to be exclusionary they literally just do not know any better.

The most recent, and frustrating, was yesterday. I and one other student (male) had made some fairly significant coding contributions during class and then at the end when everyone was packing up, someone else in class said to the male student “Nice work _______, you’re the only one here that got that to work!”. Not even a glance in my direction for the work I had done.

I know it shouldn’t bother me. But it just feels like if I were a guy, I would also be getting the praise. But I’m not, so I’m just flat out ignored.