[Community] Female student leaders lacking

More women should pursue leadership opportunities at Queen’s

Re-blogged from QueensJournal.ca. Written by TUBA CHISHTI.

In 1884, Queen’s became the first university west of the Maritimes — and ahead of much of the world — to have female graduates.

Today, more than 55 per cent of the Queen’s undergraduate student body is female, and Senate enrolment reports tell us that each incoming class sees a higher composition of female students than the one before.

I strongly believe the amount of student ownership and meaningful opportunities at Queen’s are second to none. Yet 130 years after women first came to Queen’s, we’ve yet to attain gender parity in leadership positions outside the classroom.

Female participation in higher student leadership roles continues to be a large issue. This may have to do with female hesitance to lead, the way we’re socialized through school or a lack of encouragement to get more involved. The great thing about positions only lasting one year, however, is that we can start to change those numbers.

Looking at student election results is the best way to identify a lack of female participation. In elections, we each vote without needing to tell others how we voted, and it’s one of the few public areas of our student experience that we all have the option to partake in.

By examining five years of elections for executives in the AMS, ASUS, EngSoc, ComSoc, CESA, Residence Society (ResSoc) and Rector/Trustee races, I came to realize the problem isn’t that we’re unwilling to vote for female leaders.

According to data I’ve accumulated, female candidates are more likely to win than male candidates — but even with a majority female population, women tend not to run, based on the results of Arts and Science, AMS and Rector/Trustee elections from 2009-14.

Only 40 per cent of candidates and 10 per cent of the elected executive in Arts and Science elections have been women, despite the faculty being well over 60 per cent female.

The AMS and Rector/Trustee numbers aren’t much better, with 30 to 35 per cent of candidates and approximately 40 per cent of elected members being female. These numbers match the overall average from student societies elections quite well.

The issue is females are a lot less likely to run than men. Over half of any volunteers or staff in our student governments, services and clubs are almost always female — and the composition tends to be female by a larger majority than just half.

Yet the higher the positions, especially in elected cases, the quicker this trend reverses. For example, despite the 300-plus Queen’s Model Parliament delegates being almost 60 per cent female in the last few years, there has only been one female elected Party Leader.

After talking with female friends about running for elected positions, applying to more positions or continuing in academia, a very clear theme emerged: we all lacked confidence in ourselves. My friends didn’t think they were as qualified for leadership roles they positioned themselves in, or for medical school, or for awards they had rightfully won. >> Continue Reading on QueensJournal.ca

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