THE SANTA CLARA
February 5, 2015
Santa Clara needs more male leaders.
As a man, I realize that this line is far from the usual dialogue about gender and leadership. That discussion more often centers around the halls of Congress or the Fortune 500 to make the important case for greater female leadership. Yet, among students on our campus, it is undoubtedly involvement from men that is sparse.
I do not want anyone to think that I find the female leaders on this campus lacking in any way. As vice president of Associated Student Government, I work under the incredible student body president Anaisy Tolentino. But neither the university nor our larger society is served by the lack of men stepping up to become responsible leaders.
The disparity disadvantages men in ensuring that there are fewer male role models to help and guide future leaders, perpetuating the shortage of engaged males. And since many organizations or positions on campus attempt to find some sort of gender parity, women have to compete much harder than men for the same positions.
This is not a result of any systemic unfairness or bias against men. It’s not even a result of there being more women, since Santa Clara has an equal ratio of males to females. Men just aren’t pursuing leadership roles on this campus in sufficient numbers. And if the trends that we see at Santa Clara are any indication of the future for our larger society, the prospects for our equal representation in leadership beyond the university are looking bleak.
The case for greater male leadership among Santa Clara students is not a qualitative one. Undoubtedly, there are excellent male leaders on this campus. I find myself regularly inspired by students like Max Silva of Santa Clara Community Action Program, Drake Bonin of Residence Life and Max Wahl of ASG and Sigma Pi. These exemplary male leaders are not alone. The list could very well go on, but it would be dwarfed by the one noting student leaders on the other side of the gender spectrum. And I don’t think it would be close.
The evidence for this can be seen across campus. Last year, the Activities Programming Board was entirely composed of women. That’s right — an organization’s entire leadership was composed of women. Community Facilitator and Assistant Resident Director positions in Residence Life are engineered to be equal between genders, but in the hiring process, female applicants far outnumber males.
Prospective students are more likely to be led on a tour by a female student ambassador than a male one. Of this year’s Campus Ministry interns, 12 are female and only three are male. Most SCCAP leaders are women. Peer Health Educators are overwhelmingly female. The past four student body presidents have all been women.
Last year, the Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education actually had an information session about immersion trips in the Malley Center because they thought that the more “masculine” location might help entice more men to come and apply.
Of course, not every group on campus has this disparity. ASG, the organization to which I belong, is fairly equal in its membership. We have one more fraternity than we have sororities. Some academic disciplines are still overwhelmingly male and likely have strong male membership in their various associations and clubs. Yet, it cannot be denied that in spite of some exceptions, student leadership at Santa Clara has a decidedly female slant.
The male perspective is valuable and contributes greatly to our university. It ought to be equally represented in student leadership. But for this to happen, more men need to step up. If we cannot offer our input and leadership for the betterment in this community, how can we demand any influence over its direction?
There are no shortages of opportunities. Some groups are all but begging more men to join the conversation and provide leadership. The impetus is on men to become more involved at Santa Clara, not only for ourselves, but for the benefit of us all.
Men, wake up and step up. Lead.
Patrick McDonell is a senior political science and English double major.