This teacher’s brilliant social experiment reveals why gender equality in Congress matters
Congress has a long way to go to truly represent the diversity of the United States of America.
According to the Washington Post, the 114th Congress is 80% white and 80% male. Women and people of color are grossly underrepresented among the nation's leading lawmakers.
Nicholas Ferroni, an educational activist and history teacher at Union High School in New Jersey, found this troubling. In an interview with Mic, Ferroni decided to come up with his own social test to prove to high school students exactly why gender equality matters in Congress. He said he was inspired by Jane Elliot's "blue eyes/brown eyes" exercise — which treats participants better or worse based on eye color in order to have white people experience what it's like to be a minority.
Ferroni gathered students into a classroom to conduct a mock vote on new school policies. The classroom was made up of 80% female students and 20% male students.
Ferroni then started taking votes on new gender-specific policies such as female students getting 21% discounts on all school-related items and male students' lockers being located to the second floor to avoid harassment of female students. The voting results went overwhelmingly in favor of these new policies, and the male high school students began to catch on.
One visibly upset male student spoke up during one of the votes.
"You can't put this approved if it's all girls voting," he said. "Eighty percent of the class is all girls. It's majority rules."
This was the exact reaction Ferroni wanted.
"It was so powerful to see how unfair the boys thought the voting was considering the class congress was a female majority and they completely got it," Ferroni said in an email. "But I also hoped that the video would open people's eyes to the fact that Congress does not fairly represent the American population, especially women."
The high school teacher finally told the male students in the classroom that this was an experiment to demonstrate gender disparities within Congress.
"I also want you to know that in Congress, eighty percent of men tell women what to do with their bodies — your moms, your sisters, your cousins, your girlfriends and so on," Ferroni said to his his students.
You can watch the social experiment in full below: