To increase female representation among student leaders, the American Association of University Women partnered with Georgetown to hold the second annual Elect Her conference Saturday.
Seven of 28 Georgetown University Student Association senators last year were women, and women continue to serve on executive boards in lower number than their male counterparts across campus. The first Elect Her conference last spring addressed the lack of women in student leadership positions at Georgetown.
The conference comes before the GUSA senate election campaign is set to launch Thursday.
Event coordinator Abbey McNaughton (COL ’16) hopes that moving the conference to the fall will increase the number of women running for GUSA this year.
“As big as those elections are on campus, we hoped this could be directly correlated with either encouraging people to go to our conference for the sake of running for GUSA or people who come to us will be encouraged to run for GUSA,” she said.
The conference included a panel of student leaders and workshops on networking, campaign strategy and communication skills. Tara Andrews, a civil rights attorney who ran for office twice unsuccessfully, and Leticia Bode, an assistant professor in Georgetown’s Communication, Culture and Technology program, both spoke at the event.
“When women run, women win at the same rate that men win,” Andrews said. “The reason we don’t have women in office in the numbers as men is because women don’t run in the same numbers as men.”
McNaughton said she hopes the conference can teach students skills that will lead to increased female campus leadership.
“I do hope that this conference inspires female leaders in many different aspects across the board in the different elected offices around campus. In terms of GUSA in particular, females are definitely underrepresented,” she said. “I’m not saying females should run just because they’re females, but I do think that if we can equip females with the proper tools, then they will be able to more effectively run and represent what they believe in.”
Abby Cooner (SFS ’16), a GUSA senator and event coordinator, said that GUSA needs female representatives.
“I think the purpose of the GUSA senate is the represent the student body as a whole and represent every single voice fairly and equally and extremely well, and I also think that full potential will not be realized until every single portion of campus is recognized equally,” she said.
GUSA Deputy Chief of Staff Chandini Jha (COL ’16) hopes that diversity events such as these can help young women become future government leaders.
Jha, a former GUSA senator and Elect Her coordinator, hopes that skills learned at the conference can help women succeed in their professional careers in the future.
“We hope this event can be a catalyst for sparking activism; that women who attend realize they should assertively go after their goals and refuse to sit on the sidelines,” she said. “That’s something that’s up to our generation to begin to fix.”