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Women hold USC election minority
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USC elections '99
Questions and answers
AGENT John Botting
AGENT Emily Chung
AGENT Joey Hammill
AGENT Perry Monaco
AGENT Nurup Naimji
AGENT Kalev Suurkask
AGENT SzeJack Tan
AGENT Stephen Zolis
Women hold USC election minority
By Brendan Howe
If women are assuming more powerful positions in the '90s, it is not evident in the University Students' Council.
As candidates hit second gear in the USC presidential race, a consistency which has been prevalent throughout this decade has made its annual appearance. Out of eight candidates, one woman is running for the USC's top spot, but she is among a select few from recent history.
In the last 10 presidential campaigns, only a little over 10 per cent of those running have been women. Of the 69 candidates who have taken part in the presidential festivities in the 1990s, seven have been female and of those seven, one has been elected president.
Furthermore, since 1965, the council has only seen four women at the helm.
Emily Chung, a fourth-year scholar's electives chemistry student and this year's sole female candidate, said she thought the statistics are unfortunate but did not believe a president should be elected based on their sex. As for why it happens, she said it may be based on what a candidate has to endure during a campaign.
"I think they might be a bit intimidated knowing they'd be one of the few women."
She added women tend to be a bit more practical and a USC presidential campaign often entails sacrificing academics and other aspects of a student's life.
Four out of the last 10 years have seen the campaign pass without an entry from the female gender. The only exception in the statistics was the 1995 race where third-year combined administrative and commercial studies and psychology student Gillian Anderson came out victorious with 1,235 votes, while runner-up third-year honours ACS student Tiffany Tan made it a narrow victory, receiving 1,135 out of a possible 4,548 votes.
Current USC President Ian Armour could not pinpoint the reason for the lack of female involvement but said it would be nice to see more female candidates. He also noted he does not believe the sex of a candidate has anything to do with their ability and said Anderson was a perfect example.
"Gillian Anderson was one of the best presidents the University Students' Council has ever seen," he said.
With this year's 52 per cent female student population at Western and the fact that more than half of councillors in the USC are women, Armour said he hoped more would enter the presidential race.
Anderson said the trend of male-dominated USC executive positions has been changing and the number of women assuming vice-president roles is a good example. She noted, however, a large number of those with whom a president deals, including university administration, are male.
She added her gender had nothing to do with her reason to run for the presidency and it did not affect the job she did. "I didn't feel like I had less support in my role because I was a female."
However, Claudia Philipsz, the coordinator for the USC's women's issues network, said she did not think women are made to feel like they can run. "They've never gone above and beyond to make the point that a woman is capable of doing the job."
She suggested doing a campus survey of women on what they thought of running for USC president.
Greg Moran, VP-academic at Western, said the answer to the question of why more women do not run for the presidency puzzles him. "I hope student council and students are asking themselves that question."