Since the start of the Elect Her workshop four years ago, the percentage of women running for office in UMBC’s Student Government Association has increased from under 30 percent to over 40 percent, according to an article posted on UMBC News.
The workshop that was organized by gender and women’s studies professor Kate Drabinski, which has recently expanded to include local high school students, has clearly made an impact on the campus. UMBC’s statistics are much greater than those nationally, where female representation in government ranges between 19 and 24 percent.
Workshops and representation like this are especially important because of the growing dialogue about women in the workplace and the wage gap. It is often discouraging to young women to grow up in a country where the majority of our leaders are white men, though, with this workshop, UMBC is alleviating that discouragement.
Hopefully, these numbers will only increase in the coming years until women have equal representation in the SGA.
The workshop does not aim to just create equality on campus. The idea is to inspire young women to join SGA in the hopes that they will go on to run for elected offices after college has ended.
It is important that the goals of Elect Her reach far beyond the campus because it is so rare that school programs are created with the mindset that the skills will carry on to life after graduation.
In addition to this event, the Women’s Center holds the Women in Leadership class, which is a series of events and workshops designed to prepare women to be leaders. It offers everything from sexual assault support to a workshop on how to negotiate salaries.
Elect Her has actually caused a change in the UMBC community and, thankfully, it is a change for the better. Continuing programs like these that both inspire and inform the community can only make for a better campus climate.
Though we still have a ways to go in terms of having a truly equal campus, there are definitely steps being made in that direction. In a time when women are regularly underappreciated, it is refreshing to see UMBC’s community actively trying to combat that, and furthermore to see that that is working.