“We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist.”
– HM Queen Victoria
For the past year, I have been blessed to attend a small, private university in Alabama. The campus is beautiful, my classes are enchanting, and my friends are incredibly kind. The last thing I want to do is diminish the excellence of my school; however, one thing about this place has been getting under my skin. My school is predominantly made up of women. In fact, there is a 3:1 female to male ratio here, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that it feels like that portion of men is completely ruling the campus.
This week, we held Student Government elections. I was so excited to vote, but I was very disappointed when I realized that almost no women were running for major offices…and I was even more disappointed when almost no women won any of these offices. With men predominantly controlling the SGA, it feels like that (male) 25% of the student body is making the rules for themselves and the other (female) 75%. Will they use their decision-making power to represent the entire student body, with all their gender-specific intricacies and concerns? They are supposed to, but with an SGA dominated by males, how will females have any say? It frustrates me that women are underrepresented here and it saddens me to hear that my intelligent, skillful, courageous female friends didn’t run for office because they “felt unqualified”.
What disturbs me is that I see this trend in every city, organization, and office. Women don’t step up to lead because they feel like they aren’t capable. Women don’t run for office because they think they can’t be elected. We (women) complain that we are underrepresented in leadership positions, but do we ever do anything to change it? The reality is that if women never stand up, we will never be represented at all and we will never change anything for ourselves.
If I could make one change on this campus, it would be to empower women to shine bright in leadership roles. I truly wish that girls everywhere would feel confident enough to pursue leadership. If we want to change the world and if we want to have our voices be heard, we have to learn to step up to the challenge without fear of failure. Fear of not being elected and fear of not being capable cannot be used as excuses anymore because (as Queen Victoria said) “the possibilities of defeat” cannot exist. We cannot be interested in them.
So stop being afraid and stop telling the world that you’re tired of sexism until you stand up to change it. If you’re tired of how things are in your world, change them; but you have to be willing to stand up. Go forth. Go with confidence. Go with pride. Go with integrity, strength, and the drive to make this world brighter. But if you fall, get back up. Because without women like you, none of us may ever have a voice.