BOD Gender ratio troublesome

Graphic by Joshua Awolade

Graphic by Joshua Awolade

Students may be surprised to learn only one female candidate has been acclaimed to Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union board of directors this year.

Melody Parton, a third-year criminology student at Laurier’s Brantford campus, is the only female out of the eight who were acclaimed for the upcoming year. She is also a returning member of the board.

“I think it’s unfortunate that there’s only one female representative in a room full of males who are obviously sometimes male-minded,” said Parton.

However, she said she has no worries this gender ratio will affect their decisions or outlooks.

Parton said girls who are operationally minded are typically not interested in applying for the board of directors. She continued that the Students’ Union can only educate people in order to get more policy-minded female students interested.

“I think they should just teach people about what the board is and what they do and those girls that are policy-minded would definitely take interest that way,” she explained.

Kaipa Bharucha, assistant chief returning officer for the Students’ Union elections, said it’s a strange phenomenon to see a low number of females apply for positions on the board.

“It’s a strange anomaly to see women not applying to these jobs, which is crazy because even on our management team we have one of the highest proportions of women to men in most Ontario universities and we thrive with female [representation] as well,” she said.

According to Matt McLean, chair of the board and chief governance officer of the Students’ Union, it is difficult to see why the male-to-female ratio for the board is lower than the ratio for presidential candidates.

“With the exception of last year, the proportion of female-to-male candidates for the presidential position itself is actually quite high compared to the board of directors, so that tells me that it is not a testament to the process itself, but maybe the position specifically,” he said.

This year, Olivia Matthews is the lone female candidate out of three for the position of president and CEO.

While no women ran for the position last year, two years ago, Annie Constantinescu and Jennifer Taborowski both ran for president along with three men.

According to McLean, the decisions the board makes are conscious of the different issues on both campuses and take into consideration when making decisions that might involve gender bias.

“Those don’t come up very frequently, but we do always have female representation to speak up,” he continued.

For Parton, the board of directors does not represent specific genders or campuses, but the whole Laurier student body.

“I as a director of the board represent all Waterloo students, all Brantford students and all female and all male students, but I don’t think it’s going to have a huge impact because we all have everyone in mind at all times,” she said.

Bharucha said the board is currently looking into how they can address more female candidates in the future to have a more representative team without marketing their campaign towards a specific audience.

“It’s not like we’re misrepresented, but we’re not fully represented I think without more females,” said Bharucha.

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