Some BYU-Idaho students are defying the norm by choosing majors which are statistically dominated by the opposite gender.
David Muncy, a junior studying dance, said he changed his major twice before he decided to be a dance major.
“I had some trouble deciding on a major at first,” Muncy said. “I did a semester at Utah State before my mission, and I was an anthropology major there. Then when I came here, I declared myself an international studies major, and that just wasn’t doing it for me.”
Muncy said he has always been a dancer but thought of it as a hobby.
“I finally decided to consider it as a career option,” Muncy said. “I finally felt settled.”
Muncy said he has noted a dramatic difference in the number of male and female dance students.
“Last semester, when I declared, I was the only male dance major on campus for a while,” he said.
During Winter Semester 2016, there were 125 females and eight males who were declared as dance majors, according to BYU-IStudent Records and Registration.
Muncy said his experience with dancing has been similar everywhere.
“You’re in high demand just because you’re a guy,” Muncy said. “Just the fact that you’re willing to dance makes you a lot different than other guys already.”
From 2011 to 2016, a total of three males have graduated from the dance program at BYU-I, according to BYU-I Student Records and Registration.
“Studying dance history, it makes sense why there’s all these stigmas and social barriers for male dancers,” Muncy said. “I don’t know if you’re ever okay with it, but you do become accustomed to it.”
He said men are hesitant to start dance because it is considered to be less manly, but that men have just as much capacity to dance and to do a good job.
“It’s just different or new,” he said. “I feel like it’s a perfect combination of art and sport.”
Muncy said he wants to eventually teach, despite the fact male dance teachers are more of a novelty and not what people might expect when they sign up their child for a dance class.
“Eventually, I would like to do dance education at the university level,” Muncy said.
Maeser Frederickson, a junior studying sociology, said there is a more even amount of males and females in his sociology classes, which differs greatly from his experience as a child development major.
“I have always had a love of working with kids,” Frederickson said. “Helping them in some way was what I wanted to do, so no matter what profession I chose, I wanted to help kids.”
Frederickson sad he saw a dramatic difference in male and female registration in his child development classes.
“At most, I was the second guy in the class or the only guy,” Frederickson said. “When I was single, that wasn’t a bad thing.”
During Winter Semester 2016, there were 546 females and eight males declared as child development majors, according to BYU-I Student Records and Registrations.
Frederickson said he was not bothered initially by the imbalance of male and female students, but he said it began to interfere with his interactions in classes.
“I realized that when we broke up into groups, it was hard to get in a group because it was as if no one really noticed me,” he said. “It sounds weird, but that’s what happened.”
Frederickson said he felt that others found it strange that he wanted to work with children or that he was not as capable of giving compassionate care because of his gender.
Frederickson said he feels there is a slight stigma against male students who choose to study things like child development or other majors where care and sensitivity, especially towards children, are part of the job description.
“We all have been given different interests and hobbies, and stigmas shouldn’t limit us to what we want to accomplish in life,” he said. “You just have to roll with it and make the best of it, and I feel that’s what I have tried to do.”
Mary Dick, a junior studying chemistry, said she had always wanted to study medicine but chose to focus more on chemistry after taking chemistry class in high school.
“I really loved the organic chemistry, and that’s really what made me choose chemistry above everything else,” she said.
Dick said she noticed the imbalance of males and females in her major classes.
During Winter Semester 2016, there were 164 males and 68 females declared as chemistry majors, according to BYU-I Student Records and Registration.
Dick said she has noticed other imbalances as well.
“It’s really interesting actually,” she said. “The guys seem to tend to get higher grades.”
Dick said although everyone has different strengths and interests, she does not think there are any limitations on her gender to internalize and apply subjects like chemistry just as well as males.
“I think it’s more like how willing are you to put in the effort,” she said. “Some things are harder for some people. Everybody has the same capability to learn different things and skills.”
In 2015, there were a total of 10 male and two female chemistry graduates, according to BYU-I Student Records and Registration.
Dick said she has had good experiences in her classes and an equal opportunity to learn and participate.
“In group work, I am able to help and explain the different things that are taught,” she said. “The way that we learn things is different, so we are able to teach each other the concepts that we do not understand from the lectures.”
Dick said she thinks the lack of female students, in part, is due to the emphasis The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints places on women to become wives and mothers and the female students’ misconception that this downplays the importance of a challenging and fulfilling education.
“We sometimes feel that a hard degree is not required because why put so much effort into something that we will probably not use because we want to be stay-at-home moms,” she said.
Dick said she thinks the ideal of becoming a wife and mother is good, but that there are negative effects when female students use it as an excuse to settle for less of an education.