Geller and Kenschaft began collecting stories about micro-inequities in the academic community in 1989. Geller developed the stories into scripts. In 1990, Kenschaft began what has become a tradition at meetings of the MAA and other professional organizations, the presentation of a few skits, often performed by the people who were involved in the original incidents, followed by guided discussion.
More information about the MAA micro-inequity skits is available in Winning Women Into Mathematics, Patricia Clark Kenschaft, Editor, published (1991) by the Mathematical Association of America ($9). Also available from MAA is the 1990 Skit Kit ($4), containing skits, a script for the narrator, and information for preparing discussion leaders.
Committee on Participation of Women
Mathematical Association of America
1529 18th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
WW-GEMS organizers were intrigued by the micro-inequity skits, but saw the need for skits based on experiences from the life of secondary school students and teachers. Pat Kenschaft was very encouraging. The skits that follow are the result of the recollections, brainstorming, and creative writing efforts of some of the participants of WW-GEMS. Possible discussion questions have been given for skits VII, VIII and XI that should provide suggestions for development of topics for the others.
For a brief workshop, one or two of the prepared skits could be performed by volunteers, with small group reflection and whole group guided discussion following each skit. In a different setting, a one-week institute on a science or mathematics content area, for example, the topic of gender equity could be discussed early in the week and the participants could be encouraged to produce their own micro-inequity skits.
Scene: Responding to a demo about volume of a cylinder
Cast: Teacher, two boys, two girls
(demonstrates two cylinders made from transparencies that are rolled on the long edge and short edge)
Predict the amount of Cheerios® each can hold-
Now, everyone take out HIS notebook and write a prediction...
Who would like to share HIS prediction?
(Girls raise hand - select a boy)
Paul: I know. Since they're both made from the same size transparency, the volumes will be the same!
Teacher: (pick on girl) Anyone else?
Georgia (a gorgeous girl, who knows it): I think because the oil storage tanks in Newark are short and fat, it will be the short, fat one. Also, my lipstick tube is long and narrow and look-it hardly holds anything. Look at my hand cream jar. It's fat and squat and holds an awful lot.
Jack (under his breath): What kind of an answer is that? Only a girl would use that kind of reasoning-lipstick and hand cream).
Teacher: Well, class. What do you think? Who's got the answer?
Let's take a vote. Who likes Paul's answer? (count votes) Who likes Georgia's answer? (count votes)
(Class votes overwhelmingly for the boy's answer) [We'll hold up a card telling the audience how to vote.]
(Finish the demo...)
All right, now we know the answer. Hold up your notebooks so I can see your predictions.
Teacher (Teacher walks over to shy Sally and notices a full page of calculations): Sally, you didn't even vote.....but look at THOSE notes! Why didn't you share this with us?
Sally crawls under the desk as the teacher unfolds a computer paper with the math solution dependent on the radius squared.
Moderator directed discussion follows the skit.
Scene: Guidance office
Cast: Female Counselor, Mizz Tillie Traditional; student, Susie Tear, II
Mizz Tillie Traditional: Well, come in Susie Tear, II. What would you like to register for next year?
Susie Tear, II: I want Honors English, Honors American History, Pre-calculus, Physics and AP French.
Mizz Tillie Trad: That's a heavy schedule, Susie. What are you planning to study in college?
Susie: Maybe international relations with a French minor; maybe go to law school.
Mizz Tillie Trad: My dear, you certainly don't need all the work and anxiety of that math and science for your goals. Why don't you drop your science - and math, too. You can take studio art and Yearbook. You'd be really good on the Yearbook staff.
Susie: My mom and I talked about this schedule. She really wants me to take more math and science.
Mizz Tillie Trad: Don't worry. You can get those courses at the junior college-if you ever need them. You really need to build that GPA. Don't you want to get a scholarship?
OPEN TO AUDIENCE
Cast: Teacher; Lucy Luck, a bright girl who ascribes her success to serendipity; Gorgeous George, good-looking and over-confident; Smart Sam, belongs to the first tier; Worried Walter, overcome with male math anxiety.
Props: test papers, fine tooth comb, calculator, paper for George with a large "11%" written in the size an audience can see.
The teacher is handing back results of the semester exam in integrated mathematics and science.
Lucy Luck (aside to Gorgeous George): I just know I failed this semester exam. It was too long and too hard. I just can't do math.
Gorgeous George (stroking his pocket calculator and beating his chest): Come on-it was a cinch. I knew it cold. I didn't get time to think about it. I worked on my car. Anyone who can repair a car like my old Chevy can pass a test.
Worried Walter: She usually passes the tests out in order. I'll bet she calls out Sam's name first. I study and study and never get above a D. Watch, my paper will be given out last.
Teacher: The highest grade was made by Lucy. Lucy, you must have studied hard for this test and it shows.
Lucy (aside to any neighboring student): I was just lucky. I was sure I had failed that test.
Teacher: Sam has the next highest score-just a half a point below Lucy's.
Gorgeous George: Sam is a math whiz. He has enough science ability to win a Nobel Prize. Maybe we should get his signature right now.
Smart Sam (upset and forceful): Lucy, let me see your paper. Now.
(Sam has a fine tooth comb and goes over Lucy's paper as a metaphor to examining something "with a fine tooth comb.")
Several more papers are distributed.
Gorgeous George (His paper is near the end of the stack. He speaks while looking at this low score. His paper is held so the audience can see the score.): I guess I should have spent more time looking at the book instead of working on the car.
Scene: Five people sitting in a faculty lounge.
Cast: John, the girls' softball coach; Dave, the boys' soccer coach; two women teachers or more.
Female: Does anyone know the date of the prom?
John: Sure, it's next Saturday. Ask me how I know.
Female: Okay, John. How do you know?
John: I know everything that's happening on this campus...who's dating whom and that Susie broke up with Tim. My girls keep me informed. That's all they talk about on the way to games, on the way from games, and sometimes in between innings.
Dave: I can't believe it. All my guys talked about on the way to our games was math and the physics lab.
Female (to the audience): If you were in the faculty room and these were your students, what conclusions might you draw from this conversation?
Scene: a home economics class - all girls except for one boy, named Billy.
Props: cherry pie (or cardboard replica of such) and paper plates
Cast: 3 girls, 1 boy
A group of girls (Cheryl, Jessica, and Amy) comes walking along past Billy, singing, "Can you make a cherry pie, Billy boy, Billy boy? Can you make a cherry pie, charming Billy?"
Billy: As a matter of fact, I can. It'll be coming out of the oven any time, now.
Cheryl: Are ya gonna give me a piece, Billy, huh?
Jessica: Yeah, I just love cherry pie!
Amy: At least, I love the cherry pie my mother makes.
(Billy takes the pie out of the oven and starts to cut a piece for each of the girls. It is a bit black around the edges and the faces of the girls start to sag.)
Billy (serving Cheryl a piece of pie): Here y'are. Eat up!
(Cheryl cuts a piece with a fork and puts it into her mouth. She gnashes her teeth on a cherry stone and spits the pie out.)
Billy: Well, how do you like it?
Cheryl (laughing): Well, it's not bad - for a boy!
Scene (play within a play): Two groups are on stage: (1) journal writers and (2) a group of students acting out a scene. Any set-up that conveys the idea that the journal writers are viewing a performance can be used.
Cast: Three or four journal writers, a teacher, a boy and two girls as actors.
Prop: A large clock with a minute hand that can be moved through a five minute period. This can be a paper model made from poster board.
Teacher (to the class): In today's lesson you will be observing a play and recording your feelings in your journals.
Monica: I think I'd like to be a clerk at the hospital after I graduate. I could meet the most intelligent, rich guy who could take care of me the rest of my life. I could stay home and cook and clean, watch all the soaps and do my nails - so when my honey came home I could be a model wife.
Derek: Well Monica-my plans are set. My parents have a college trust fund put away for me. I'm going to be a computer scientist and own my own business on Wall Street. My wife will have dinner on the table each night when I come home.
Denise (aside to the audience-not Derek): I'm not the best student in the class. Sometimes I get really good grades, but I study hard for them. Do you think I could make it in college? I'd like to be a marine biologist.
(The students exit.)
Teacher (to the class): Each of you has listened to the students. I want you to write your impressions. You have five minutes. Then share them with each other.
(Take the clock and move the hand through five minutes as the class writes in its journals.)
Please finish your last sentences. Then you will share your reactions. (Pause) Who would like to begin? (The writers read their responses.)
Journal writer 1: Derek has lots of confidence. Denise needs some. She might be a good student, but she doesn't think she is. She thinks she only gets good grades because she works hard.
Journal writer 2: Monica's beyond hope. She'll be in big trouble if her husband leaves her. Derek sure knows what he wants to do.
Journal writer 3: Monica thinks she can be a clerk. She better learn some math and how to use a computer. Her ideas won't work any more.
Note: The focus of this play is on the strategy of staying with the student. This strategy is applied differently to students. You may also find inequities.
Cast: Ms. Class, a female teacher; Bill, an active boy; Jack, a quiet boy; Susie, an active girl; Jill, a quiet girl.
Ms. Class: Who has an example of a function he constructed for homework?
(Susie and Bill raise their hands.)
Ms. Class: Bill, let's hear your example.
Bill: I chose y equals 2x.
Ms. Class: Good, Bill. Would you be able to graph your function?
Ms. Class: What would the graph look like?
Bill: A curve?
Ms. Class: Try again, Bill.
Bill: How about a line.
Ms. Class: Yes, Bill. Good. Does anyone else have an example of a function?
(Susie's hand is still up, and Jill quietly raises her hand. Jack's hand is conspicuously not raised.)
Ms. Class: Susie?
Susie: What if you have y equals x squared?
Ms. Class: Good, Susie. Jack what about your idea?
In what ways did the teacher treat the students the same?
How was the teacher's interaction with each student different?
How does this skit model happenings in your classroom?
Scene: Office of principal in a small southern community school
Cast: Mr. Redneck, the Science/Math supervisor; Ms. Doolittle, science department chairperson; Ms. Glynda Goodvirus, who attended a Gender Equity conference over the summer.
Prop: Glynda Goodvirus should wear a button that says "Gender Equity."
Glynda Goodvirus: I'm so glad ya'll let me talk to ya' about all the plans I have to change my chemistry class. This year I'm starting right in with this neat film in which guys in a gym talk in girls' roles. I want to show all the district teachers how to use this film. It's okay if I do that, isn't it, Mr. Redneck? I have it all planned.
Ms. Doolittle (Silence for a while. Then, speaking aside to Mr. Redneck): What's she talking about? What's her agenda this time?
Glynda: And I have these great attitude surveys in which my students can express their feelings about science and math and their teachers too. These are research-based methods from university studies.
Science Supervisor (ignores Glynda's ideas): Ms. Goodvirus, as you know next week is the opening week mini-conference for the science teachers. I placed you in the schedule to do some microchemistry demos for our middle school teachers.
Ms. Doolittle: We could have the math teachers come, too. You could do those demos about the metric system. I'll purchase some "Base-Ten Blocks" for the session.
Glynda (aside to audience): What can I do? These people will never change.
Describe a similar situation in which you have been a player.
How do you share new ideas with your colleagues?
How can you make gender equity in science and mathematics an open discussion topic?