Equity & Diversity

Breaking Tradition Earns Honors

By Sean Cavanagh — February 28, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Scott R. Mueller admits he is used to talking about “guy stuff” in class, with guy friends. Nothing, he says, that girls would normally hear.

Yet last year, through a fateful arrangement of the class rolls, his familiar world vanished. Mr. Mueller, then a high school junior, signed up for a yearlong elective class in health care, only to discover he was the solitary male among 21 students. “For a couple days,” he said, “I didn’t really know what to say.”

When the school year ended, though, Mr. Mueller, now a senior at Deerfield Public School in Deerfield, Mich., was honored for his lone-male status. He was one of several students to receive the Breaking Traditions award, a recognition the state Department of Labor and Economic Growth gives to students who enroll and perform well in courses that are “nontraditional for their gender,” based on national statistics.

Girls tend to dominate vocational classes in health and cosmetology, for instance, while boys’ participation tends to be greater in such areas as automotive repair and electricity. Some blame discrimination, subtle or not. Mr. Mueller’s interest in health care was sparked by a medical problem of his own: a recurrent bone cyst in his arm.

The Breaking Traditions program has been recognized by the Association for Career and Technical Education, in Alexandria, Va., as well as two national organizations that promote gender equity. Both high school and college students are eligible; they are nominated by school officials on the basis of their technical skills and ability to serve as role models.

The number of Breaking Traditions nominees has increased over time, said Norma R. Tims, the gender-equity coordinator in the state labor department. In 2006, the state will honor up to 125 students. Female students tend to receive more awards, she said, mostly because more male-dominated vocational areas exist for them to cross into. The benefits of breaking gender barriers for both sexes include not only the potential for higher pay, but also entrepreneurial opportunities, Ms. Tims said.

“It builds confidence in the student, and it builds their ability,” she said. “We hope it’s a springboard for them.”

A version of this article appeared in the March 01, 2006 edition of Education Week

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Whole Child Approach to Supporting Positive Student Behavior 
To improve student behavior, it’s important to look at the root causes. Social-emotional learning may play a preventative role.

A whole child approach can proactively support positive student behaviors.

Join this webinar to learn how.
Content provided by Panorama
Student Achievement Webinar Examining the Evidence: What We’re Learning From the Field About Implementing High-Dosage Tutoring Programs
Tutoring programs have become a leading strategy to address COVID-19 learning loss. What evidence-based principles can district and school leaders draw on to design, implement, measure, and improve high-quality tutoring programs? And what are districts

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Equity & Diversity The Vast Majority of School Boards Lack Latino Voices. What Can Be Done About It?
Diverse school board members means more opportunities for equitable policies, Latino leaders say
5 min read
Stephanie Parra, Governing Board Member at Phoenix Union School District and Executive Director of ALL in Education Arizona, sits for a portrait at the nonprofit’s space at Galvanize Phoenix in downtown Phoenix, Ariz. on Nov. 15, 2021. Phoenix Union is majority BIPOC students, but school board and educator demographics in Arizona lag behind in representation and opportunity.
Stephanie Parra, Governing Board Member at Phoenix Union School District and Executive Director of ALL in Education Arizona, sits for a portrait at the nonprofit’s space at Galvanize Phoenix in downtown Phoenix, Ariz. on Nov. 15, 2021. Phoenix Union is majority BIPOC students, but school board and educator demographics in Arizona lag behind in representation and opportunity.
Caitlin O’Hara for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Infographic How Do Educators Feel About Staff Diversity? We Asked
Educators of color and white educators have different opinions on whether and how administrators should address the lack of staff diversity.
1 min read
Image of chairs lined up.
marchmeena29/iStock/Getty
Equity & Diversity Opinion 'What Are You Doing to Help Students Understand Systemic Racism and Combat It?'
Creating the conditions for effective dialogues and incorporating student voice are two ways to help students become anti-racist.
11 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Equity & Diversity Opinion Anti-Racist Teaching Strategies for Predominantly White Schools
Creating common vocabulary and safe places for students and strengthening their critical-analysis skills support anti-racist teaching.
12 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty