The incoming University Students' Council executive team will be the first in over 10 years to have a female majority.
Starting in May, three out of five positions will be held by women, with incoming communications officer, Mikaela Harrison; student programs officer, Carina Gabriele; and secretary-treasurer, Andreea Bejan helming the USC.
The last time an executive team had a female majority was in 2006-07. That year, four out of seven USC executives were women under president Fab Dolan.
The USC's 2018-19 female majority is in stark contrast to the most recent presidential and vice-presidential elections where all the candidates were men.
“We really have to look at why women aren’t running for these positions and figure out how we can improve for the future,” Bejan said.
Notably, there have been several years where there was an even gender split among the executives. The USC used to be led by six executive members until 2017 when the vice-president external and vice-president internal positions were combined, creating five positions. The USC executive achieved gender parity in 2011, 2012 and 2015 with the USC's last female president, Sophie Helpard. Since 1976, only six women have served as USC president.
A common sentiment expressed by all female members of the incoming executive was that there is still work to be done. This year, Gabriele was the USC’s Women’s Issues Network coordinator, leading an organization that strives to address and raise awareness for gender issues on campus.
“It shouldn’t make us complacent,” Gabriele said about the majority-female executive. “This is a moment to celebrate, absolutely, but it’s not something where we can just pat ourselves on the back and not think that we have more to do by way of representation.”
“Our focus should be on representation and mentorship and how we can encourage women, and women of colour, to get involved early on and run for these kinds of positions,” Bejan said.
In addition to the USC's female majority, this is also the first year that the Society of Graduate Students has had an all female executive.