November 1, 2013

For immediate release

Halifax, Nova Scotia- A report released today by Students Nova Scotia reveals that women are significantly under-represented in university student government across the Province. The State of Women’s Involvement in Post- Secondary Student Politics in Nova Scotia found that although almost 60% of university students identify as women, the same is true of only 41% of student government representatives and less than 1/3 of student union presidents since 2007-08.

Although there are more female MLAs headed to the Nova Scotia Legislature than in years past, the proportion of MLAs who are women still falls below 30%. The underrepresentation of women persists in all levels of elected government in Canada.

“Anecdotally, we have looked around the room and seen the lack of diversity, but these numbers put the disparity in sharper relief” said Amy Brierley, Chair of StudentsNS. “Our student unions hope that we will be able to create greater space for female leadership to flourish through the Mend the Gap campaign.”

Equitable representation is a fundamental goal of StudentsNS’ Mend the Gap campaign; a series of events coordinated on all participating campuses allow students who identify as women to further explore positions within student government and experience professional development opportunities related to student politics. A mentorship program also pairs interested candidates with women who have had student government success in the past.

“Women are active on campuses and are doing great things across Nova Scotia, but it’s so important to ensure women hold positions of great institutional responsibility and influence,” said Amanda Kolwich, Chair of the Mend the Gap Steering Committee. “Student politicians also learn so much in their positions that helps them prepare for lifelong leadership success, so it’s critical that women get these opportunities to help turn around inequality in positions of even greater authority.”

Other findings from the report include: that women were more likely to hold positions in the smaller student unions (fewer than 1500 students), Acadia Students’ Union had the smallest gender gap in its student government, and the Mount Saint Vincent University Students’ Union had the largest; and women were still less likely to hold hired positions.

“Now that we know the scope of women’s underrepresentation in student government, we’ve got a basis to dig deeper into its causes and find real solutions,” said Brierley. “We’re committed to creating campus environments that allow for all genders to be involved in the student leadership positions that speak to their interests.”

The report, prepared by Kayti Baur, can be found at www.mendthegap.ca/know-the-facts/.

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For more information or questions, please contact: 

Amy Brierley, StudentsNS Chair

(O) 902.867.2440
(C) 905.703.6721
(E) su_userv@stfx.ca

Allison Sparling, Campaigns Coordinator

(O) 902.422.4068
(C) 902.488.7109
(E) campaigns@studentsns.ca

Students Nova Scotia (StudentsNS), formerly the Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations, is a not-for-profit and non-partisan advocacy group that represents 87% of Nova Scotia university students. Our 37,000+ members study at Acadia, Cape Breton, Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s, and St. Francis Xavier Universities, the Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College, and the Atlantic School of Theology.