Who runs the world?

The domination of men in committee positions needs to be addressed

Lucy Wegerif

Lucy Wegeriff

Recent figures have shown that men have been enjoying their duel with women in the balance of power where ‘key’ positions in campus societies are concerned.

Looking at the statistics for our university, just over four in ten students are male, yet they enjoy half of the seats on offer taking 170 committees into account. Some of the more definitive results arise when looking at the more traditional societies such those pertaining to politics, debate or careerist pursuits, with more than 70 per cent of the cake going to males.

Peering down what is perceived by some as the opposite end of the spectrum, the arts and humanities committees represent a gulf in favour of women. Sadly, these numbers seem to conform to stereotypes we are unfortunately all too familiar with. It seems the distribution of key positions may still be influenced by the strictly patriarchal society we once had, or as some would argue, still do. But is it that simple?

There are a variety of reasons why a society may be male-dominated. For example, take the issue of gender marketing in general. An argument proposed is that such a mechanism encourages stereotypical views and it is worth examining our societies in a similar light. While the advertising of positions and societies may be almost neutral, it is the figures in power, arguably, that attract ambition from would-be leaders and careerists.

For some societies, a male role model may be able to sufficiently motivate other men who would perceive the position as more achievable, than that which is currently held by a women (and vice versa), which in effect could represent a form of, admittedly unintended, gendered marketing.

Alternatively, simply by voting for your mates in order to help them out could be another explanation. In societies, the phenomena that is clique-voting may, to some degree, perpetuate largely or totally same-gender committees as this intimidates outsiders, those of a different gender, but also, crucially, excluded from a group of close-knit friends.

On the other hand, we could simply blame the data, as it may not tell the entirety of the tale. With incomplete information due to a few societies not having stats to hand or unofficial changes in respective roles, there may be a small discrepancy in the conclusions I have attempted to extract thus far. However this is not significant enough to be termed an inconsistency and so the issue remains; with a larger number of females at the University, the divide in key positions is too wide.

The matter is far too complex to be tackled in a single article, but from the evidence we have, there is a concern that needs addressing. Raising awareness of the issue is the first step in the right direction.


  1. No it does not need to be addressed you ignorant tool.
    Due to biological factors men will dominate leadership roles more.
    This is all down to the fact that women are more discriminating than men, therefore men have to be competitive.

    Spend a bit more time learning the science rather than vomiting your political correctness crap.

    What are you going to do next? go into the animal kingdom and make sure 50% of leaders of packs are female?

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  2. So 40% students are male, 50% committee members are male. There is a hardly a huge crisis in numbers there, good luck making it exactly the same without positive discrimination. Also, regarding difference in committees where humanities are mostly women or whatever, have you contrasted that to student genders in those subjects? I imagine the committees will be roughly representative. The problem is university intake, not committees. Either way, This is such a big deal about nothing, because the subject societies are so pointless the only people on them are people with nothing else to put on their cvs.

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