Equity & Diversity

Breaking Tradition Earns Honors

By Sean Cavanagh — February 28, 2006 1 min read

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

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
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Recruiting and Retaining a More Diverse Teaching Workforce
We discuss the importance of workforce diversity and learn strategies to recruit and retain teachers from diverse backgrounds.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.
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 Holistic Approach to Social-Emotional Learning
Register to learn about the components and benefits of holistically implemented SEL.
Content provided by Committee for Children

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Principal
Meredith, New Hampshire
Inter-Lakes School District
Elementary Principal
Washington State
Wenatchee School District
Principal
Meredith, New Hampshire
Inter-Lakes School District
Elementary Principal
Washington State
Wenatchee School District

Read Next

Equity & Diversity Opinion Don't Teach Black History Without Joy
The Black experience is not one-dimensional. Why do we teach it that way?
Jania Hoover
4 min read
Joyful figures raise their hands and sparkle inside the profile of a smiling woman
Edson Ikê for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion What Does Leading for Racial Justice Look Like?
On Feb. 10, A Seat at the Table focused on leading for racial justice. Our guests, Jennifer Cheatham and John Diamond, offered many impactful answers.
1 min read
Leading for Racial Justice
Shutterstock
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
Equity & Diversity Whitepaper
Real strategies to promote anti-racism
Download the eBook for Boston educator Casey Andrews’ suggestions for what you can do to start reshaping your practice.
Content provided by NWEA
Equity & Diversity Suburban Schools Have Changed Drastically. Our Understanding of Them Has Not
A growing body of research has begun to document the demographic shift and inequities in suburban education, but more work remains.
2 min read
Image of a suburb.
iStock/Getty