DCUSU host workshop with Senator Lynn Ruane encouraging women in student politics

Jamie Mc Carron

DCU Students’ Union (DCUSU) held the first two of three Zoom workshops in partnership with Women for Election, a not-for-profit organisation supporting women in politics.

The first of the series began last Thursday evening with a Q and A session with independent senator Lynn Ruane, who discussed her own experience as a woman in politics.

This was followed by a session on Tuesday, “Finding your purpose and Building on it,” which focused on reflection and practical exercises to encourage participants to acknowledge their skills.

The aim of the three sessions is to encourage the participants to put themselves forward for election by empowering them with information and practical campaign skills.

The Zoom with Senator Lynn Ruane began with the CEO of Women for Election, Caitriona Gleeson, speaking about the value of diversity in student life and in society as whole.

“I was checking with Lynn earlier if she’d consider running for election in DCU, seeing as she’s a student in DCU at the moment,” Gleeson joked.

Senator Ruane was elected President of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) in 2015, and was elected to the Seanad in 2016, and again in 2020.

She is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Creative Writing in DCU and is a board member of Women for Election.

“Sometimes women think they have to have all these qualifications, when men just think they’ll be good at everything. Within the Seanad I felt I had to prove myself, I felt I had to work harder to show that I was good at my job whereas sometimes it’s just taken for granted that men of a particular class will do well,” Senator Ruane told the students in the meeting.

She answered questions from DCU students about how to avoid burnout, how to work with people with different experiences from her own and public speaking.

“Even if you give a speech and it’s not one of your best you learn that you’re not going to die after it. And now I’m not afraid to speak anywhere even if I’m not on top form that day.”

DCUSU Vice President for Welfare and Equality, Dean O’Reilly, told the College View that he welcomes the series and its message.

“The Women for Election series provides a really great example of women that are successful and went on to be successful after their time in student leadership positions, there’s Lynn Ruane and Christine Farrell. There’s a lot that goes into ensuring this adequate representation of women.”

“But there’s broader levels of representation beyond gender, we’d love to see greater representation of non-binary folks and ethnic minorities.  Hopefully in years to come we’ll get to see greater emphasis on that.”

The second session, held yesterday, focused on potential candidates finding a “purpose-building and confidence-honing message.”

Edel Hackett, Public Relations Director at the communications agency Persuasion Republic, led the meeting and noted that “everyone that faces an election will have the same type of fears and the same type of doubts.”

She also spoke on how disproportionately common it is for women to worry about how they’ll be perceived in public life compared to men.

Much of the session was dedicated to the importance of preparedness, having clear promises in an election manifesto and believing that you’re the right person for the job.

The final session of the Women for Election series will take place tomorrow (Thursday February 11th) at 4:30 pm, and is centered on online campaigning.

Digital Campaign Consultant Craig Dwyer, will give practical advice and tips on how to manage multiple social media platforms, followed by a conversation with Christine Farrell, last years’ DCUSU President, who will share her insight on running for election.

Nominations for DCUSU’s student election have already opened and will close at 11am on the February 24th.

When asked if she had final advice for students thinking about running for election Senator Ruane said “stop thinking about it and just put your name down. Just say yes to yourself.”

Jamie Mc Carron

Image Credit: DCUSU