This is why we need more women in student leadership

Last year at my alma mater, a committee was formed to investigate why there were so few women in student government leadership. When the committee presented its findings in March of this year, this was one of them:

Although some women do run for elected office, many students choose less visible jobs behind the scenes. However, some women have expressed interest in more prominent posts and were actively discouraged by other students.

The committee found that on my former campus, as on many others, I’m sure, when women consider running for “visible campus posts” that require active campaigning, they “get the message from peers that such posts are more appropriately sought by men.” They get the message that woman’s proper place is in a more behind-the-scenes role.

Or, in the case of this young man, who is running to be the social chair of the new freshman class, they get the message that a woman’s proper place is in a more between-the-sheets role.

Gee, I sure hope he can find time in his busy fucking schedule to make sure that the 18-year-olds have enough Natty Lite.

Transcript below the jump.Khan: Oh, hello there, didn’t see you. I’m Nabeer Khan, I’m a freshman at Princeton University, and I’m running for your social chair.

Headless girl: Come back.

Khan, annoyed: One sec, one sec, I’ll be back in a second. [Rolls eyes] So, if you vote for me, you’ll have excellent study breaks, incredible social events, gear that you would love to wear in your home town and everywhere. So, as you can see, I’m a little busy, but vote Nabeer Khan for social chair, and remember, beer for freshmen.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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Join the Conversation

  • Jenny

    This is a COMMERCIAL. It is like all COMMERCIALS. Just like 5 gum really won’t turn you into an extreme sports competitor, voting for him really won’t get a girl on your chair.

    Besides that, it is a campaign promise. It is expected that campaign promises won’t be upheld.

    If his COMMERCIAL is no good and makes people not like him, he won’t get elected. So, if you are right this is offensive to the voters, he will lose horribly. If you are wrong, he will win.

  • Joshua Stein

    I suppose I’m lucky in that I’m at a University (CSU Fresno) where the head of our student organization (Selena Farnesi) is a woman. I wasn’t aware that it was so anomalous; I’m less surprised at the misogyny in the video, since I’m well aware of those sorts of things around campus.

    As a [male] student who works in one of those behind-the-scenes capacities (along with some terrific coworkers, of both genders) I really keep my focus on the competence of the people in student government positions that I’m going to have to deal with to get my job done. Many of the most competent people in those positions that I deal with are women, and the idea that they’d be discouraged from running on the basis of their gender is very discouraging.

    As if I needed another reason to be cynical about politics in the University.

  • Kait Mauro

    Too classy for words…

  • lilu

    Speaking as a woman involved in student politics in university, I get the same message, usually very clearly, very frequently and very persistently. The departmental council on which I sit has never had a female president to my knowledge. I can choose to run for president next year, but that choice will go hand in hand with the overwhelming risk that if I do, I may not be voted and be unable to participate in student government. If I pick a less threatening position, I will have a much better chance of winning. How is that fair?

  • kessicajelly

    This is a huge issue, because the more women who run for student government, the bigger the pipeline will be of women running for elected office later in life. AAUW (where I work) and Running Start actually have a program that trains women how to see themselves as candidates and run for student government in college called Elect Her–Campus Women Win. This year the program will be held at 30 colleges around the country!