Thursday, April 5, 2012

Leadership Proposal Authored by Manav K., Rachel B., Austin G., Daniel D., & Matt F.


We seek to create an atmosphere in which young women are encouraged to run for the highest leadership positions, to develop a system that supports their election, and to support equal gender representation in student government.
-       We shouldn’t force the issue of gender roles in leadership; we should solve the problem from the bottom up (the voters) rather than the top down (changing the positions). This can be achieved by voter education and creating conversations around gender representation in leadership roles.
-       Students should not be required to have leadership experience for the following reasons:
o   Students may feel pressured and more competitive with leadership opportunities, which will affect the activities in which they are seeking for leadership opportunities.
o   Captains of sports teams and leaders of activities don’t generally come into leadership opportunities until they are upperclassmen, so it would be very hard for underclassmen to get the experience.
-       Young men and women are equally represented in student government.
-       There is a cultural issue of gender roles in leadership positions, and instead of being passive we should address the issue and adapt in some way.
-       Each member on Student Council has an equal voice, thus it is very important to have an overall balance of male and female members.
-       It’s important to have many seniors on Student Council because their experience in the Upper School and knowledge of events (Mystery Fridays, dances, etc.) is crucial in organizing events.
-       We should encourage young women to run for elected Student Government positions.
-    Provide peer mentor opportunities for young women specifically to help motivate and educate women about pursuing the presidency.

-   Encourage young women to participate in student government positions as Class Representatives will give them confidence to run and prepare them for the highest leadership positions (President, Secretary and Treasurer).
-   In order to create an equal gender balance, there will be at least four men and four women on student government.
-   As the current campaign model favors those who are more competitive, there should be a change made to the actual campaign process so that those who are less confident or outspoken have a chance to better represent themselves. We would like to add another aspect to the process, in which voters have a chance to talk to candidates running for executive positions. For example, there could be an X-period in which candidates sit in the great hall and Upper School students can meet them and ask them questions.
-  To create focus groups that discuss gender roles in leadership positions in order to encourage voter education.
Student Government Positions:
-       President – Gender Neutral
o   1 President, not gender specific.
  • Elected by current Upper School student body.
  • With one President, there is a lesser chance of conflict which may occur between co-chairs.
  • No issue of having one chair that is worse or better than the other – one strong leader to direct Student Council.
  • No potential social conflict between co-chairs (i.e. if chairs were in a relationship, don’t like each other, etc.)
  • A model with a single president is good for teaching/preparing students to vote for in the real world.
  • A single person is more decisive than two, thus Student Council would be able to move through issues/projects faster with a single leader.
-       Secretary – Gender Neutral
o   1 Secretary, not gender specific.
  • Elected by current Upper School student body.
  • The work allotted to the Secretary can be done by a single person.
  • In order to reduce the amount of people on Student Council so that it runs smoother, there should only be one Secretary.
-       Treasurer – Gender Neutral
o   1 Treasurer, not gender specific.
  • Elected by current Upper School student body.
  • The Treasurer should be an elected position since students base their vote on who they think will be the best treasurer.

-       Senior Class Representative – Gender Neutral
o   1 Senior Class Representative, not gender specific.
  • Elected only by current class.
  • Since there are 3 executive positions and 2 Dorm Representatives (presumably Seniors), there only needs to be one more senior on Student Council. In this model there would be six seniors on Student Council, and we currently have 7 seniors on Student Council.
  • It’s important that there is a member that specifically represents the senior class (the executive positions represent the entire school since they are voted into office by the entire Upper School).

-       Dorm Representatives – Gender Specific
o   2 Dorm Representatives, gender specific (one male and one female).
  • It’s important that the dorms are significantly represented in Student Council since they have not historically been grade representatives and are an important part of our community.
  • As the male and female dorms are separate, their spheres of life are different, and it’s important that both dorm men and women are equally represented.
-       Other Class Representatives – Gender Specific
o   2 Class Representatives each for the freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. These positions are gender specific (each grade will have one girl and one guy representative).
  • Having one male and one female representative creates a good gender balance.
  • It allows younger women to run for student council positions, which would provide them with good experience and confidence to run for President, Secretary, or Treasurer.
  • Creates a bigger pool of leaders to be elected for the higher leadership positions.


  1. Although I find no issue with favoring outspoken, confident individuals, I really like the idea of having that x-period. the voter education is the most important change we can make. currently, the election season is rushed, and the interaction between candidates and voters is very superficial. We need to provide more opportunities for candidates to speak to students as candidates than just a 5 minute speech and a "debate". Not only that, but we also need to encourage voters to get together and start the conversation with each other about what it means to vote and elect an individual (and, ultimately, team) into office, what to look for, and how to decide.

    I like the ideas of focus groups, encouragement, and mentoring (as I had previously suggested on the original proposal), which reflect a bottom-up approach, rather than a top-down one. Another piece from those studies (specifically the Princeton study) was the importance of the visibility of female leadership during Orientation, and the first few days or weeks that freshmen are at school.

    I do have to disagree with the proposed division of the class representatives. While not as dramatic as the bigger positions, this change still undermines the female candidate, and says to the student body, as many have previously commented, that girls do need a boost or special assistance, which is insulting.

  2. Also, something that I don't think occurs to very many people in this conversation (I did see at least one comment, however, on the original proposal) is that not all individuals fall into a gender binary. I am comfortable with my biological gender, and judging by the model, I assume that the authors of this proposal are as well. But in our government, we have to be careful when we send a message that "this spot is for boys and this spot is for girls." What does that imply to students who fall outside the gender binary? What does that reflect about our school?