Female students are represented in student governments, despite worldwide biases

Emma Nevin

Almost 90 per cent of the world’s population is biased against women according to a United Nations Gender Social Norms Index released March 6th.

The Index’s findings show that about half of both men and women feel that men are better political leaders and over 40 per cent believe men have more of a right to a job when work is scarce. 28 per cent believe a man can beat his wife.

The country with the largest percentage of the population having at least one bias against women was Pakistan with 99.81 per cent closely followed by Qatar and Nigeria with 99.73 per cent.

Ireland has not yet achieved perfect equality between men and women either. The EU and Irish Women web-page, last updated on March 12th, shows that women are far less likely to be covered by occupational pensions than men are and they also make up the vast majority of part-time workers in Ireland.

Irish women also make up only 13.2% of board members of the largest Irish publicly listed companies, significantly below the EU average of 21.2%.

At university in Ireland, student-level government has seen much greater female representation in recent years. Four out of five full-time officers on DCU’s 2019/2020 student union were female.

Trinity College Dublin made history in 2019 electing an all-female full-time officer student union. 

Speaking to the Irish Times following her election last year, TCDSU President Laura Beston said: “I think for a long time women have been doing the emotional labour and volunteering in campaigns but didn’t feel confident enough to go for the top positions,”.

“Politics can be daunting, messy and scary, but I think the Repeal campaign, and also marriage equality, have had a huge impact… it has inspired many of us to stand up for what we believe in,” she said. 

The newly elected DCU Student Union has reversed the female wave witnessed last year, with four men and one woman set to lead the student body in the 2020/2021 academic year. This has not translated nationally, with two of three of NUI Galway’s full-time officers for next year being women.

However, in the 427 years of university history in Ireland, there has not yet been a female president of a university.

Emma Nevin

Image Credit: Sonja Tutty