Letters – Women’s Leadership At McGill Alive and Well: A Response to “Bridging the Gap”

My interest was piqued upon hearing about The Bull & Bear’s most recent article, “Bridging the Gap Between Gender and Leadership.” An article about women? Me. An article about Desautels students? Also me. The article is primarily about the fact that the Management Undergraduate Society’s (MUS) Executive is male-dominated, so I was intrigued to see what had to be said regarding an issue that has been lurking over Bronfman during the school year. I naively assumed that, as a female Desautels student, I would naturally agree with the article, but soon realized I was wrong.

This article discusses leadership, but only takes on one narrow example of leadership within the MUS: the Executive Council. Yes, the Executive is all men, but what about the rest of the MUS? There are so many other leadership positions that are involved within Bronfman and play a key role in the community, with many of these positions occupied by women. I was shocked to find that these cases of female leadership were not taken into any consideration by the article’s writers.

Let’s examine the various committees within the MUS: Desautels Leadership Management Seminar (DMLS), Fashion Business Uncovered (FBU), and the Entertainment Management Conference (EMC) are all conferences that have a prominent role within the student body and all have women as both Executive Directors. Other established committees including CASCO, Cancer Auction, and 4à7 all have a female Executive Director. Where were these facts in the article?

I am not denying the Executive is male dominated, or that female representation has been steadily declining for the past four years. My point is having a completely male Exec is an anomaly, even something the men who applied for these positions acknowledged. Furthermore, in order to analyze gender and leadership, you need to examine leadership in a broader demographic to achieve an accurate portrayal. I could say the world population is 67% female, but this is only based on the fact my family consists of my mother, father, and myself. This isn’t an accurate representation of the world because the pool I’m analyzing is too small. The same could be said for “Bridging the Gap,” as it only analyzes leadership in an 8 person executive council out of a 2400 student body full of clubs and committees consisting of different challenging and strenuous leadership positions.

The article featured a nice little statistical picture, however, of the 46% female Executive Directors, 38% female Board members, and 56% female Club Presidents. But even including the 0% female Executives, there averages out to be a 42.6% female leadership in the Management Undergraduate Society. Is this something to be ignored when analyzing women in leadership? All of a sudden women in leadership increased from 0% to 43% when broadening the leadership demographic to consider all MUS leadership positions.

Of course “Bridging the Gap” did categorize these aspects of leadership by saying “this inclination for behind-the-scenes work and distaste of having a highly-visible public profile often results in female students preferring to take on leadership positions within clubs, rather in student government.” If being an Executive Director – a position which many women in this Faculty take up and that involves overseeing a committee of roughly ten people; planning and running an event from scratch; finding sponsors in the Montreal community; booking venues; handling budgets and finances; dealing with last minute event nightmares; and working with corporate professionals in regard to speaker relations – is “behind-the-scenes work,” then I would love to find a position that’s considered working in the spotlight, and applaud whoever holds it.

The Bull & Bear draws people in by claiming to examine why there are no female executives for the 2014-15 academic year, but fails to actually gather solid conclusions, except for listing some anthropological and psychobabble reasoning that generalizes all women in an offensive manner. In an article calling for women to take charge for leadership roles, there seems to be more belittlement of the current roles women hold than inspiration. The article also fails to include any concise solutions to fixing this problem.

I have no explanation as to why no females ran for an Executive position last year. It could be a fluke incident or there could in fact be some dark reason to it. But, when arguing that women are inferior to men in leadership, all leadership positions should be considered, not just an 8 member panel. If you open the pool to all leadership roles in Bronfman, you will see that the females of Bronfman High are standing their ground, and that there is an overwhelming representation of women leaders, consistent with the near 50/50 student population. There are many cases this year of female leadership taking place in the MUS, and we should be celebrating these leaders rather than victimizing them for not sitting in the MUS Office 224.

Natalie Hill
Executive Director, EMC | VP Events, CASCO | Director of Logistics, Management Frosh

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Bull & Bear.