A few weeks ago, my Chidsey Fellows class elected a member of our cohort to represent our group on the program EBoard. Out of our nineteen members, six people ran for the position: five guys and one girl.
When I saw the candidates stand up to give their pitches, I was taken aback by the obvious gender imbalance among the six students running. Our Chidsey freshman class has ten girls and nine guys, meaning that five out of nine boys tried to take on this added leadership role whereas only one girl out of ten did the same. Why, in the Chidsey program of all places, was this gender imbalance so pronounced? The Chidsey Fellows program is designed to create a network of students with leadership experience and potential — everyone in the group is more than qualified to do a good job representing the class of 2018. I was shocked that the selection of candidates conformed to some traditional stereotypes, where men are more assertive and dominant and women are more passive and less likely to fight for their voices to be heard.
To be fair, I’m a girl and I was not a candidate for this leadership position — why didn’t I try to throw my name into the ring? Then again, the students that ran had to have been nominated by other members of our Chidsey group. It was surprising that while we have a nearly even number of boys and girls in the program, we nominated so many more boys than girls to represent us. Why did we gravitate toward the guys? Yes, they would all have done a fine job as representative, but so would many of the girls who did not receive a nomination. Even in our “progressive” Davidson/Chidsey community, these gender stereotypes run strongly.
When the election results came in, it was interesting to see that the one girl who ran ended up winning the race. I wonder whether her femininity helped her in this case — five boys may have flooded the masculine market. Like I said earlier, all six candidates would have done a great job — so did she win because she’s a girl, or in spite of that fact?
Source: Thinking about gender imbalance