KIP Corner: How does gender representation fare in AUB’s student government?

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The KIP Project

Although Lebanon’s national government is still witnessing a deadlock, student government continues to be as lively as ever. For student elections this year, the KIP Project wanted to track the gender distribution of students on the University Student Faculty Committee (USFC) over the past five years. Note that in this article, we refer to the gender binaries of male and female, while recognizing that there are different gender identities that do not necessarily fit into the binary categories.

The USFC is comprised of student and faculty members elected annually to act as liaisons between students and administration. Trends show that the gender gap is closing for student government representatives. Since 2010, a year that witnessed a large disparity between male and female members (76 percent male, 24 percent female), the numbers have evened out, reaching a 50-50 split by the 2014-15 academic year.

While trends show greater equality overall, taking a closer look at the gender representation in leadership positions on the USFC reveals different patterns. Each year, when a new USFC is elected, the committee votes for the Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary. While there may be greater female representation across the board, VP positions have overwhelmingly been male in the last five years. AUB’s only female VP to serve full term within this timeframe took office in the 2013-14 academic year, which was also the year that all three of these full-term elected executive members were female.

A further exploration of the nature of these numbers is needed for a better understanding of these figures and for better informed action and decisions during future student elections. While student elections have often been compared to the national political landscape, there appears to be greater opportunity for inclusive representation of women at the university-level. It remains to be seen what this week’s elections will hold.

The KIP Corner is a monthly column by the Knowledge Is Power (KIP) Project on Gender and Sexuality at the American University of Beirut. This column serves as a platform to highlight gender and sexuality related issues relevant to the AUB community, encouraging thought, reflection and discussion around different topics within this area. The KIP Project at AUB is hosted at the Olayan School of Business and funded through a federal assistance award from the US Department of State. The Project aims to support the production and dissemination of knowledge related to gender and sexuality in Lebanon by encouraging multi-stakeholder dialogue and facilitating knowledge-sharing. For questions or suggestions, you can email communications@thekipproject.com.

 

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