Female student leaders’ presence growing

Janette Neuwahl

As Northwestern honored women in leadership on Saturday at its 11th annual conference, female leaders have a strong and growing presence in student groups.

Of the 95 Associated Student Government-recognized student groups, 51 of the groups, or 54 percent, have female presidents. Last year, 48 percent of about 75 student groups had female presidents, said ASG Executive Vice President Srikanth Reddy, who oversees student groups.

“A lot of the strong presence of female leaders on campus has to do with the type of people that Northwestern recruits,” said Reddy, a McCormick junior. “Most of us were heavily involved in high school and the women here are very driven and all about business – even in the organizations that I see males in the top positions, I see a lot of women behind the scenes.”

On ASG’s executive board there are five women and eight men, although one is elected. Reddy said he thinks that is a result of the fact that men are more “power-hungry.” However, Reddy admitted he has not seen any gender conflicts between leaders at NU.

“In the two years I’ve overseen student groups I’ve never heard of an instance whereby questionable issues were raised about gender or people getting angry about certain things,” Reddy said.

Women’s Coalition Director Laura Millendorf said the large number of women leading NU groups is not surprising.

“The fact that there is a strong presence of women on campus is a wonderful thing,” said Millendorf, a Weinberg junior. “There’s no reason why that wouldn’t seem natural to me.”

Tiffany Berry, president of For Members Only, said that although she is happy with the high number of women leaders on campus, she is not always concerned with her gender.

“It’s important to have good leaders on campus regardless of gender,” said Berry, a Weinberg junior. “When we separate it like that, we’re calling male leaders the norm.”

Genevieve Maricle, who has been president of Students for Ecological and Environmental Protection for two years, attributed the female presence to the fact that getting involved in different groups is easy for NU students.

“It’s awesome how many different opportunities there are on campus to be a leader,” said Maricle, a Weinberg senior. “It’s nice to realize that if you are really interested in something and put time into it and care about it then you can do it, regardless of gender or race.”