North Texas Daily

More than 93 percent of SGA presidents have been men

More than 93 percent of SGA presidents have been men

Infographic by: Lizzy Spangler.

More than 93 percent of SGA presidents have been men
April 17
14:07 2019

Infographic by: Lizzy Spangler.

Men have held the office of Student Government Association president 93.4 percent of the time while the office of SGA vice president has been held by men 60 percent of the time, with 71 and 45 men being elected SGA president and vice president, respectively.

Five women have held the office of SGA president, which translates to 6.6 percent, while 25 women have been SGA vice president, which translates to 33.3 percent.

“I’m saddened but not surprised to see the low statistics that are associated with the SGA executive office,” SGA Vice President-elect Hillary Shah said. “For too long, women and especially women of color have been pushed out of leadership positions, not because of a lack of leadership ability or qualities to be SGA [executive], but because we’ve always been told that we’re not suited to those kinds of position, even though many times we’re at the same level or over exceed the qualifications or experience to be a leader.”

Students recently elected the sixth woman SGA president in Yolian Ogbu.

“It makes a hell of a difference when you see someone who looks like you in positions of power,” Ogbu told the North Texas Daily. “I fall at an intersection of being both black and a woman, which hasn’t happened for someone in my position since 1997. I believe that if it weren’t for organizations like IGNITE, I wouldn’t have been confident enough to pursue the role of president, especially as a sophomore.”

Shah said she is excited to work alongside other women in leadership roles.

“Women have always done the work, but in the background, and I’m very much looking forward to a new era of leadership that includes women and women of color,” Shah said. “I hope that an all-women or women of color ticket isn’t something new in the near future, and am very proud to be on an all-women ticket myself.”

Ogbu said it is “about time” more women and women of color are elected to student government leadership positions.

“Hillary and I hope that we pave the way for more women to run for office because they are just as qualified as anyone else, if not more,” Ogbu said.

These figures are the result of a data analysis of gender of all the past SGA presidents and vice presidents by the Daily. The list of past SGA presidents and vice presidents can be found on SGA’s website and gender information was added manually by the Daily. There were five vice presidents who were not identified or gender could not be confirmed.

The first members of SGA, then known as the United Students of North Texas State College, were voted in during the spring of 1948. The first president was M. Richard “Dick” Barnaby and the first vice president was Joyce Gray.

“It’s kind of crazy because I feel like UNT’s very diverse in the gender culture and all that,” public health sophomore Emma Howell said.

Howell said there should be more focus on diversifying the SGA executive office.

“Because it shouldn’t just be men talking about the whole student body,” Howell said.

Communications studies sophomore Sophia Clater said the numbers were surprising.

“Especially because I’m really involved on campus and the majority of presidents that I see on campus of [organizations] at least, are usually women,” Clater said.

Clater also said that the gender diversity numbers for the SGA vice presidency “makes more sense.”

“I think [SGA does] well with racial diversity, just from what I’ve seen,” Clater said. “But yeah, as far as women, they should focus more on that.”

When considering both the office of SGA president and vice president, men have occupied these positions 79.3 percent of the time, while women make up 20.5 percent of the occupants of those offices. Numerically, 116 men and 30 women have been either SGA president or vice president.

“It’s not surprising, unfortunately,” fashion merchandising sophomore Solei Johnson said. “Because it’s become typical at this point, and it’s unfortunate. It’s not the way things should be but it’s just how they are.”

Current SGA President Muhammad Kara said he thinks “it’s kind of insane” that there are not more women in leadership positions.

“I think they really have not been given an opportunity to do this,” Kara said.

Kara said he believes there should be more “intentional outreach” to encourage women to run, because the positions can be run by anyone.

“It’s like the exact same way for [the country’s] actual, real politics,” Kara said. “There’s more men in these positions than women. I think it’s just because they haven’t been given the opportunity or haven’t been given that push of ‘hey, you can do this.'”

Featured Infographic by: Lizzy Spangler.

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Lizzy Spangler

Lizzy Spangler

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2 Comments

  1. JD
    JD April 18, 16:44

    “I’m saddened but not surprised to see the low statistics that are associated with the SGA executive office,” SGA Vice President-elect Hillary Shah said. “For too long, women and especially women of color have been pushed out of leadership positions, not because of a lack of leadership ability or qualities to be SGA [executive], but because we’ve always been told that we’re not suited to those kinds of position, even though many times we’re at the same level or over exceed the qualifications or experience to be a leader.”

    That’s a bold claim/accusation to make without proof. I would be curious how many women have run for these positions, and if any have been discouraged from running, who they are and who discouraged them.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Melissa
    Melissa April 22, 20:50

    Thanks for the article. I was Vice-President under Ron Skillens in 1992. It is time for more women to serve. Melissa Ybarra-Jimenez

    Reply to this comment

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