Staff editorial: The SGA Executive Board is all-male. It’s time to reflect.

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SGA sponsor Kathleen Bartels released the 2021–2022 student government election results in an email to the Whitman community on Monday. Bartels’ message listed the highest-ranking SGA positions: President, Vice President, Treasurer and the two Secretaries. 

The election, by all accounts, was normal; students voted, ballots were counted, and results were announced. But after one glance at the results, an obvious similarity between the five elected officials became immediately and painstakingly clear — they were all men. 

The candidate pool in this year’s election was considerably diverse, despite the all-male winners. Six female candidates and several students of color ran, yet none of the female candidates emerged victorious. This outcome has become more than common enough over the years to warrant reflection. 

To many students, the results of SGA elections are an unfortunate blend of popularity, unrealistic promises and blind trust in candidates. Still, the elected officials represent Whitman in the eyes of both the student body and the community at large. So it may seem like a curious anomaly when a co-ed school elects an all-male SGA, especially when taking into consideration that there have been only two female student body presidents in the past 17 years.

Nationally, America has made significant strides toward gender equality, but there’s still a long way to go before closing the gender gap. Even though women make up 51% of the U.S. population, they hold only 31% of state legislative seats. And there’s an even more obvious inconsistency: The United States has yet to elect a woman to the presidency. Our own school mirrors these nationwide statistics. Is Whitman equally complicit in the stagnant gender gap? 

There’s no easy fix to this disparity. Without a doubt, the election was fair, and those who won clearly earned the right to represent our student body. Yet, it’s evident that next year’s executive board won’t accurately represent the population at Whitman, where 48% of the students identify as female. 

For voters skeptical that gender played a role in the election results, it’s a common brush-off to say, ‘It’s only about who your friends are.’ But the SGA’s history of male-dominated executive boards reveals that there’s an underlying systemic issue. The results from past years are too consistent to be a coincidence or a simple case of ‘who you know.’ 

As a student body, we must strive to choose the best candidates for the job when voting in our student government elections. Gender shouldn’t dictate who we cast our vote for — this is the role of campaign platforms, promises and goals. 

As a community, it’s time for reflection. Our school’s voting history clearly indicates that combating sexism, closing the gender gap and empowering female voices need a more direct approach. Next election, let’s stay cognizant of bias.