To the Editor:
I do not believe a gender mandate for school president would be effective in creating meaningful change. In my view, the effect of such a mandate would be to let the community get used to seeing a female in the presidential role, thus helping to break the current perception that males naturally hold presidential traits. I agree such a quota would be successful in reaching these goals, but given the current state of student council, this success would not be worth much. All we would show is that females are equally capable as males at being charismatic and giving entertaining ASM speeches. Because experienced Andover students know that school president is a largely powerless position, achieving gender equality for the position would not have far-reaching effects.
Thus, before any discussion of a quota, we must reform student council so that it can actually be a force for change and give students a voice in administrative decisions. If this effort proves impossible (which it may well be), why not abolish the role of president as a whole? Then, we wouldn’t have any inequality to worry about!
That said, my view does allow a quota (perhaps even calls for one) when there is inequality associated with a position which carries heavier significance on campus. The role of The Phillipian Editor in Chief actually falls into this category, as people generally associate traits such as organizational skill, work ethic, decisiveness, etc. with the role. When these traits become mixed with gender stereotypes, there are more serious consequences than those that arise from faulty perceptions of humor or charisma. That is not to say stereotypes with regards to humor or charisma are harmless, but they are relatively insignificant. Thus, in response to last week’s call by The Phillipian for a gender mandate in student council, I ask: Will The Phillipian itself consider a gender mandate for selection of the Editor in Chief?
Justin Wang ’13