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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
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Texas A&M pitcher Evan Aschenbeck (53) reacts after throwing the final strike out during Texas A&M’s game against Mississippi State on Saturday, March 23, 2024, at Olsen Field. (Chris Swann/ The Battalion)
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A warm, summer evening bestowed Hoover, Alabama on Wednesday night when the No. 4 Texas A&M Aggies faced the No. 15 Mississippi State Bulldogs...

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Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
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Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

The speakers turn on. Static clicks. And a voice reads “Your starting lineup for the Texas A&M Aggies is …” Spectators hear that...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Gender gaps in Koldus

 
 

With 13 women represented in the 74 members of Student Senate and three women having ever been elected student body president, Student Government Association seeks to evaluate an under-representation of women.With the University’s almost symmetrical gender divide – 52.9 percent males to 47.1 percent females – the number of female representatives in SGA does not reflect the make-up of the student body.Students have attributed this numerical disparity to several reasons, including a female disinterest in SGA, lingering cultural trends and bias in leadership teaching models.Student SenateMariana Fernandez, the outgoing speaker pro-tempore of Student Senate and senior political science major, said the women who are running are being elected. If that’s the case, she said, then why aren’t more women running or interested in running?Fernandez said members of SGA could only attempt to explain why women are underrepresented in Senate. Senators speculated several reasons, from potentially skewed perceptions of SGA to large-scale, culturally rooted issues.”It maybe could be a problem that lies within SGA, within Senate or the atmosphere of [SGA],” Fernandez said. “Perhaps it just takes a certain kind of person to deal with a lot of the stress and a lot of the issues that wedeal with.”Female senators said a negative perception of Senate, including controversial bills that received national media attention, could deflect women from participating in SGA.”Unfortunately, like in recent cases, the only word that has been getting out is controversy and negative light,” said Hannah Weger, sophomore communications major and off-campus senator for the 65th session. “We’ve passed over 80 bills this year and only two of them have been really, really controversial. That’s what people see.”After attending her first meeting as a senator three years ago, Katherine Nydegger, former business senator and senior accounting major, said her interest level plummeted drastically.”Honestly, when I got to Senate I didn’t think I would last more than three meetings,” Nydegger said. “I thought, ‘This is so lame, all these people in here need to get a life.'”By her third meeting, however, Nydegger said she realized, with the introduction of controversial bills, she couldn’t leave.In hopes of counterbalancing what she saw as extremist views, Nydegger said she felt a need to “mitigate the crazy” by remaining in Senate, gauging student opinions and beliefs on the issues and casting her vote accordingly.”I thought if I left, who knows who would be elected to replace me,” Nydegger said.Nydegger said she felt obligated to protect her University, hoping to keep Texas A&M out of the national news spotlight for bad publicity.”I owed it to my University to stay there and try to stop the extremists from taking over and becoming the opinion of Texas A&M University so that we hopefully didn’t end up on FOX News or the New York Times,” Nydegger said. “Even though Student Senate is the representative body, I didn’t think the extremists in Senate really represented those views.”Nydegger said she would encourage students to get involved in SGA but warns that serving in the Senate is not an easy undertaking.”I think SGA as a whole is for everybody, but Student Senate isn’t for everybody who wants to maintain their sanity,” Nydegger said. “If they’re easily offended or easily torn down, Student Senate is definitely not for them because it definitely tests your mental or emotional stamina.”Women find themselves adopting various styles of leadership in student government.Amanda Hatheway put the leadership theory she learned as a business honors major to practice in her first experience with SGA as vice president of University Committees. She realized the model of asserting dominance was not the most effective leadership method for her personality.”I got some feedback that said, ‘You’re acting like a jerk,'” Hatheway said. “So I had to reassess and not just do what they tell you to do in leadership development classes but to try and find a mold that would work for me.”Holly Scott, incoming chief policy advisor and junior political science major, said versatility is crucial in the SGA setting.”Being able to adapt and have that ‘I don’t know but I’ll find out and tell you’ kind of thing is really good and it’s very promising in student government and the workplace in general,” she said.Scott said she considers each individual – males, females, leaders or followers – as equally important”co-worker.””It’s not a matter of what your title is or what [areas you oversee] – it’s a matter of making things happen,”Scott said.SBP dilemaScott Bowen, Senate speaker for the 65th Session and senior chemical engineering major, said he thinks the biggest problem within student government is the difficulty for women to be elected studentbody president.”The reason for that, I think, is that it takes an individual who is extremely ambitious and who has a certain kind of personality to be elected SBP,” Bowen said. “In the modern successful SBP campaign, there are a lot of organizations that make that campaign up, and women who have that kind of personality are usually not supported by either men or women withinthose organizations.”Nydegger said women seeking SBP election face a long history of precedent that prevents campus-wide support.”I don’t think it’s easy for women to get elected SBP just because more of the culture of campus and the history of the University being an all-male institution, so I think the culture of campus would make it more difficult for women to be elected SBP,” Nydegger said. “I think [women] would be able to get a lot of support from whatever groups they’re being supported by, but as far as widespread campus support, I think it would be a bitmore difficult.”Weger said it would be difficult for a woman to be elected SBP because, as opposed to Senate, the SBP represents students on a University-wide level. As a result, she said, biases from A&M’s culture and history would be more likely to surface.”Do I think it is harder for a woman to get SBP than Senate? Yes I do,” Weger said. “And I think there indeed could be gender bias of decisions in some cases.”However, Hatheway, who was recently named chief of staff for Student Body President Reid Joseph, said there might not be an overall gender bias at work.Hatheway said she thinks traditionally taught leadership styles are more accessible for men, and this has a greater influence on women’s role in student government than environmental factors such as A&M’s early all-male tradition.”It’s not just Texas A&M, but any leadership role has an unspoken male bias because the leadership theories that you learn in school are for males,” Hatheway said. “I’ve found that the theories that we learn, and the standard idea of what leadership [is], are defined for a male and that doesn’t always work fora female.”Because the student body is split fairly evenly between men and women, Weger said the argument of which gender could better represent the student body shouldn’tfavor men.”Since the student population is about half [men] and half [women], best representation comes down to views on issues, because you couldn’t argue, ‘Oh there are way more males so obviously a male would represent us better,'” Weger said.Weger said because a small fraction of the student body votes in student elections, it is hard to know if there is an overall exclusionary bias against women inleadership positions.Gender orqualificationsIf the process for women to become student body president is difficult, even if only three have ever served, females who achieved the position prove that it isnot impossible.Brooke Rollins, Class of 1994 and the first A&M female student body president, said she learned much from the campaign process – “one of the greatest experiences” of her life – including the fact that politics doesn’t always equate with honesty and that a belief in a vision canreap rewards.”A lot of people didn’t think I could win that race because there had never been a female before, but I believed we could and our incredible team believed we could, and we did,” Rollins said.Rollins said anyone willing to voice their opinion might be met with consequences.”Anytime you move into an arena where you espouse certain ideological beliefs, you are going to be subject to criticism,” Rollins said.Rollins said isolating focus on gender – or any other single aspect of a person – can be limiting.”If you focus too much on whether you’re male or female or white or black or green – any sort of physical attribute – I think you are compromising your ability to really resonate with those whom you are hoping for a vote,” Rollins said.Hudson Hoyle, junior finance major and nominee for vice president of community outreach said women leaders are “as large an asset and a part of the student body as anyone else” and someone who is qualified for a position speaks beyond gender.”I think some of the most respectable leaders on campus are women,” Hoyle said. “I view them the same way I view male leaders on this campus – that I have a lot to learn from some of them and they’re all just as capable as any man that is qualified for it.”Although gender divides may remain on campus and in the world at large, Scott said she has an idea of what the destination of total equality would look like.”For women, we’re always going to be adapting until we reach this pinnacle of equality, whatever that actually means,” Scott said. “What is the milestone that says we’ve finally reached equality? And I think that milestone is when we can finally stop talking about equality.”

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