The results of the Undergraduate Council general election were released on Friday, revealing a promising increase in female representation.
Ninety-nine students ran for a total of 51 open positions. Many of the races proved competitive—in the Ivy Yard, 42 candidates competed for 3 spots.
The Council welcomed 19 female members, increasing female representation to 37 percent from 25 percent last year.
“Female underrepresentation has been a bit of a problem,” said UC President Senan Ebrahim ’12. “That is a lot of improvement for one year.”
Among freshman members of the UC, female representation jumped from 8 percent to 25 percent.
Quincy Representative Jennifer Q. Zhu ’14 was the only freshman female on the UC last year. She said the UC adopted several initiatives aimed at encouraging more female representation on the Council, including workshops and office hours sharing effective campaign techniques.
Zhu said she felt female candidates last year tended to be less aggressive in their campaign strategies.
“I remember seeing a bunch of guys going door to door while most of the girls would just slip notes under the door,” she said. “So while half the candidates were male and half were female, this did not spill over to the results.”
This year too, despite a considerable proportion of females running, the winners were disproportionately male.
“In my yard, more girls ran than guys,” said C.C. Gong ’15, Oak Yard representative and one of three freshman females elected to the UC. “So I don’t think it is an issue of who is running.”
New Ivy Yard representative Salena Cui ’15 agreed. “Quite a few girls were campaigning,” she said. “People just tend to vote for male candidates more.”
The new members said they did not think that an imbalanced gender ratio would affect their experience or the effectiveness of the UC.
“Girls and guys look from different perspectives and bring different ideas to the table,” Cui said. “But in general, everyone has an idea about what changes they hope to see at Harvard and I do not think this will differ much between guys and girls.”
Zhu, who is also a Crimson photographer, said she does not think gender affected her performance on the Council last year. “I think it is important to encourage girls to run and take the risk,” she said. “But in the end, a quality candidate is a quality candidate.”
—Staff writer Rachael E. Apfel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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