Women More Likely To Lend Helping Hand
More female students than male volunteering
November 8, 2006 7:21 PM
While many college students filled their Sunday with shopping or football, seven female members of SF State’s Newman Club, a Catholic campus ministry, spent a recent Sunday feeding the hungry at an old firehouse.
Working with the Sisters of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, the students passed out more than 150 Styrofoam plates full of spaghetti, bread, salad and cake.
About 20 people from different schools and churches came to help. Among them, only one was male.
“My uneducated guess is that volunteer roles are traditionally more feminine activities, like teaching and nursing,” said Jay Cable, executive service coordinator for SF State’s Community Involvement Center. “Men might not be aware of the opportunities in their field.”
He said about 70 percent of the volunteers were female, even though the CIC offers volunteer opportunities for just about “everything under the sun.”
Vivian Xi, a 21-year-old hospitality management major, is a member of the Newman Club, and said she agreed with Cable that social perceptions might play a role in men volunteering.
“Men are taught that they have to be strong and dominant,” Xi said. “Most don't know how to show people love through giving, or they don't feel comfortable with it.”
“Helping other people can help yourself,” Xi said. “At the end of the day, I always look back and see if I've done something meaningful. If I have, I just feel more self-confidant.”
Mark Cunanan, 19, community coordinator for the Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor, PACE, a club on campus, said volunteering can be scary. There’s no pay, it’s not glamorous work, and many students feel they don’t have the time to do it.
“As college students, we’re privileged,” Cunanan said. “We can get an education, and we don’t have to worry about where our next meal’s coming from. But what more men and women need to realize is that with that privilege comes responsibility.”
PACE helps with an immigrant food bank every Thursday at the Veterans Equity Center.
“Some of the shifts will just be cleaning up,” Cunanan said. “It’s not fun, and you really have to humble yourself.”
“You’re either down or you’re not,” he said. “I hear many talking about how down they are and how much they’re going to help, but more often than not, it’s the women that come through.”
At the Suicide Prevention and Counseling of Marin, Volunteer Manager Janet Taylor said about half of their volunteers are students from colleges around the Bay Area. These students are also overwhelmingly female, she said.
“You could talk about the stereotypes about women being more giving, but, in the end, it doesn't matter what sex you are,” Taylor said. “All that matters is that people want to help those less fortunate, and in this case it can be the difference between life and death.”
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