We’re lucky in a lot of ways to live in the time we do, a time where women in leadership positions aren’t only a regular occurrence, but on the rise. Everywhere we look we see women taking the reins, leading the world to a better tomorrow.
We see it here on campus with President Gestring. We see it on the Supreme Court and in Congress.
Right now, across the country, a record number of women are running in midterm elections from City Council to Congress. This doesn’t just benefit other women, but everybody. Studies done by the Pew Research Center show that women in leadership positions often opt toward catering to those that they serve because they are emotion-driven and want to ensure that everyone feels welcomed and included.
Here at USD women involvement in politics is commonplace, with former female SGA presidents and a number of SGA senators being women as well.
Vice President of Student Services and Dean of Students Kim Grieve said she has seen female leaders be successful and well received on campus.
“I have seen women step up into (SGA) presidencies and have a vision and be able to get buy-in for that vision from others. So, I think they have been really strong leaders in SGA and I think there have been really strong leaders also in other student organizations,” Grieve said. “Certainly, women are taking a lot of leadership roles.”
Yet the conversation of whether or not women are capable of being in politics still exists today.
Julia Hellwege, an assistant professor of political science who teaches Women & Politics and a Vermillion City Councilor, said while we see political engagement from women at USD, that doesn’t mean those numbers will transfer to public office after graduation.
“Part of the thing that we see is that we see a lot of young women and girls who will take leadership positions in school and then not move beyond that,” she said. “And not realize, ‘oh I was student body president in middle school, well then I can do that in high school, then I can do that in college then I can do that in public office.”
But this shouldn’t be the case. We should be encouraging women to pursue careers in politics because this only enhances the variety of voices heard around the table. We need representatives who have the compassion of women, and who better for the job than women themselves?
We need women to be empowered and feel qualified to step into these roles.
And who better to empower women than other women?
When it comes to women supporting one another, Hellwege says it doesn’t happen often enough.
“Too often we see division and tearing other women down. So just being supportive and being there and supporting women financially,” Hellwege said. “Especially when running for office, or inviting women to the table, those things are so important and I know that it is easy to miss, I’ve made mistakes myself not inviting other women, but this is very important. So, if you see a woman running even in another office that you can’t vote for, send a $5 check, let that woman know that what she is doing is important.”
Female students should feel empowered by their peers at USD and beyond, and male students should do anything in their power to support and uplift them.
USD students have a duty to their Coyote family to support one another and that support, in regard to women specifically, needs to be deliberate.