It is estimated that female university graduates outnumber males, with roughly a 60-40 split each year.
In this years UCSA election, forty-five percent of the candidates are women. Whilst this is great – as it is almost half – only four out of the the eleven nominees for board positions are women.
The board positions include the President, the Education Vice-President, the Welfare Officer, International Students Officer and Women’s Officer.
Obviously, the position of Women’s Officer is only available to women so this means that only two women are running for positions open to both genders.
This is problematic because the board positions are the only paid positions and women are widely overrepresented in the unpaid work sector.
Now one may say that if the women did not apply for a paid position it is their choice, and yes whilst this has been acknowledged one must be aware of the role tickets have played in this election.
The two tickets – Your UCSA and Reboot your UCSA led by Darcy Egan and Terry Watson respectively, have been fundamental in mobilising candidates for the election.
Your UCSA has two women candidates running for board positions with Madeleine Reid for Women’s Officer and Colletta Nyamambi for International Student’s Officer.
In the Reboot your UCSA ticket, after the exclusion of Sarah Cusack from the election ticket they have no women running for board positions.
Watson blamed this on the nature of this election.
“I am very happy with the women that I do have especially in our disabilities candidate, Madelaine Wood, if no one else besides Maddy gets elected from our ticket I will be happy because she is by far the most qualified for that role,” he said.
“I’m happy to be running as an openly gay presidential candidate. We have women both with disabilities, we have the only Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person – thankfully she has been elected unopposed.”
In 2016, the UCSA board has only had one female at any one time. The role of Women’s Officer has been held by three different women this year with Erin James, Jordan McDaniel and current office bearer Imogen-Kate Hughes.
“I think (women) are being underrepresented but something we should at least be giving out cookies for is that the men that are here are very much good allies,” Hughes said.
“I think that mostly stems from not enough women who are aware or many students for that matter who are aware of the UCSA but as well as many female students have more commitments outside of university.
“The other issues which make women feel disempowered is that when they do try to enact real and sustainable change like creating a sexual assault policy they come up against walls.”
Hughes also said it was problematic that the tickets had been created by men as they were putting up the candidates for the women’s officer position.
“I think the biggest issue with the tickets is that there have been three men who have been involved in organising them and men shouldn’t be telling you what is right for women,” she said.
“They should be a part of that conversation, be part of enacting change and part of questioning our culture but the fact there are three men who have gone and organised two tickets and said I think you are the right person to represent women sort of speaks for the issues we have yet to overcome.”
The UCSA in 2015 was only slightly better for women representation with President Bronte Cleary, Women’s Officer Penelope Odell and Postgraduate Officer Katie Singleton.
Voting for the UCSA election closes on Monday, November 7 at 5pm, check your student email and follow the links to vote.