Female ratio low in student elections at Laurier

Graphic by Lena Yang.

Graphic by Lena Yang.

This year’s  Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union elections has a noticeable lack of something: female representation. Out of the 15 candidates for the board of directors, only two are female and there is only one female candidate for senate among seven hopefuls.

“It is kind of disheartening, though it not the biggest shock,” said Alicia Appleby, a candidate for senate.

“2010 had a very similar situation, so it’s not the first time this has happened.”

“It really did surprise me, since Laurier does seem to have a stronger female percentage than males,” said Rochelle Adamiak, a board of directors hopeful.

In fact, this year the combined ratio of men to women for both the Brantford and Waterloo campuses is 43 per cent and 57 per cent respectfully. This equates to around 8,100 men and 11,000 women in Laurier’s student body.

While the lack of representation is noticeable, none of the female candidates seemed deterred because of it.

“I don’t think it’s going to affect my role directly,” said Melody Parton, the other female board of director candidate. “The board of directors is not about gender, but the student body as a whole.”

“As a board member, they don’t look at our gender, just our ideas and what we can bring forward,” said Adamiak. “ I don’t think it’s going to be that big a thing.”

But Adamiak added that being a female would allow her to offer a different outlook to performing her duties as a board member.

Graphic by Lena Yang.

Graphic by Lena Yang.

“I feel speaking as a female I will focus more on communication and making connections, while males are more about accountability and financial responsibility. So I think it bubbles to down to gender difference as opposed to gender representation.”

Dani Saad, chief returning officer, believes the lack of female candidates is a representative issue when trying to illustrate the views of all students on campus.

“Whoever is trying to represent all students, it’s difficult when you don’t have a female option to choose from. Not assuming this will cause issues or concerns, but it is unfortunate,” Saad said.

With regard to how the candidates feel that women are represented in the Students’ Union, the overall feeling was that this issue is more specific to this year.

“I really hope it is not a trend. As a female I would love to see more female candidates in the Students’ Union,” said Adamiak.

“Some years we see a different turnout, but for the most part female representation is never really an issue. However, this year it is a glaring issue. It speaks to the fact we need female representatives running to make sure they’re pushing that,” said Saad.

Although the absence of female figures in the elections this year was noticeable, according to Appleby it should not impact how the Students’ Union operates.

“While it’s good to focus on female representation, its more about what each candidate can offer to their role, and not necessarily looking at how many females are present making the decisions,” said Appleby.

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