Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

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Breaking Stereotypes: Empowering Women in College to Break Gender Roles

Student+holding+textbooks+including+%E2%80%98The+Social+Psychology+of+Gender%E2%80%99+at+Watkins+Hall+on+Winona+State+Campus.+Traditional+gender+roles+regarding+gender+have+changed+in+recent+years+with+college+and+views+on+college.
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Student holding textbooks including ‘The Social Psychology of Gender’ at Watkins Hall on Winona State Campus. Traditional gender roles regarding gender have changed in recent years with college and views on college.

Within the hallowed halls of Winona State University, women in college are breaking free from gender roles. This will delve into the experiences of women in college as they navigate through their journey of higher education.

“I am a mathematics major, which is a male dominated field, and I have experienced male professors and classmates downplaying my intelligence specifically when I first took their classes or met them. I do not experience many challenges now that I am in my senior year and have had a chance to “prove” myself,” Monica Evers, a senior at Winona State, said when asked if she has encountered any specific challenges or stereotypes related to her gender while in college.

Not everyone’s experience is the same, however. Jessica Weis, the president of the WSU Students for Reproductive Justice Club and Public Relations Major, explained that she has not experienced explicit stereotypes or encounters with being a woman in college.

“I find that so often women are expected to always be on the offense and defense of their safety. I think especially in the strong differences in our society pertain- ing to rape culture- Women (and femme people) are always expected to be the perfect victim and that they should have done this or that to keep themselves safe. When all the blame should be placed on the one who perpetrated harm,” Weis said.

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With a campus that has a student population with the majority being women, Winona State fosters a community where aspiring individuals can find a plethora of female role models to inspire and guide them.

“Year after year I find myself back the night which is hosted every spring. I also find myself admiring the women’s rugby team, as well as any woman who is taking a Women’s Gender Sexuality class,” Weis said. “I am amazed when women do care work, when they put their heart and soul into something that they care deeply about.”

“An experience I had where I felt empowered by other women in college is this semester during my geometry class. All 20+ students in this class are female. Every single one. As an exploratory class, it is such a great feeling to see all these intelligent women have a chance to discover and communicate mathematics,” Evers said.

Weis and Evers explained that they have noticed that often men are taken more seriously at WSU. They explained that the relationships between professors and male students are sometimes different from their relationship with female students.

“A man could show up wearing anything and still get respect but a woman has to dress up and or wear makeup and show that she is serious about something,” Weis said.

“I have noticed subtle differences in how men and women are treated on campus, mostly in the form of professor/student relationships. I have seen male professors favor male students, mostly in the math courses, and female professors favor female students, mostly in my general education courses. This includes the professors answering questions in more detail, calling on them more frequently in class, and a higher drive to help them when struggling. Although I have made these observations, the majority of professor/student relationships have been balanced no matter a person’s gender,” Evers said.

Winona State University provides an inclusive environment where gender roles are not overwhelmingly imposed on its students. However, it is essential to recognize that women do encounter unique challenges within this diverse community. By shedding light on these experiences and promoting continued dialogue, we can foster a more equitable and supportive atmosphere for all, ensuring that every student has the opportunity at WSU.

“The advice I would give to younger women considering college and navigating gender-related issues is to go for it, but never sacrifice who you are for what others want you to be. Even if you must “prove” yourself to change someone’s views about you, do not lose who you are in the process,” Evers said. “You are not only the future itself but make the future so much brighter for the world!”

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About the Contributor
Lillianna Van De Walker, Features Reporter

Lillianna Van De Walker (She/Her) is a feature reporter for The Winonan and focuses on writing about peoples’ experiences and cultures.

Van De Walker is majoring in journalism and minoring in ethnic studies. She hopes to travel when she’s older to different countries to learn about cultures and write about their daily life experiences and how they are different from her life experiences. 

Van De Walker is from Plainview, Minnesota and it is her second year at Winona State University.

Van De Walker enjoys spending her free time with friends. She loves to write, read, and be outdoors connecting herself to nature. She plans to study abroad in the next two years to broaden her experience with other cultures. She also has a large passion for concerts.

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