Monday, February 09, 2004

New Oxford Society... 

OXFORD WOMEN IN POLITICS: 3 of every 4 members of Oxford's Department of Politics and IR are male. 1 of the 26 individuals speaking at the Oxford Union this term is female (the one is Miss World). Women comprised 18% of the House of Commons in 2001, 13% of the US Senate and 14% of the US House of Representatives. Only 19% of all UK senior civil service (SCS) positions are held by women as are a mere 9% of SCS positions in the FCO. Concerned? Then please consider becoming involved in Oxford Women in Politics, open to ALL university members, undergrads and graduates, women and men. Interested in joining? Please email carolyn.haggis@bnc.ox.ac.uk in order to be included on the society's email list.

The aims of the group, sent out in a general e-mail are as follows:

1. OxWiP will provide a forum for the discussion of issues related to gender and politics. OxWiP will feature round-table discussions with Oxford female faculty members and will invite prominent women in the public service/non-profit sector to speak about their experiences.

2. OxWiP will host skill-building workshops, such as debating/public-speaking workshops, conference-preparation workshop(members will present papers and receive feedback from other members), and networking seminars. With the hopes that more Oxford women will attend conferences, the OxWiP Research Committee will research conference opportunities and make members aware of pending application deadlines.

3. OxWiP will organize advocacy efforts (directed at the University/colleges/departments) in order to raise the awareness of gender imbalances in hiring/promotions practices, in lecturers/speakers invited to Oxford, etc. Through visits to local secondary schools, OxWiP will also seek to encourage younger women to consider a career in politics.

I think this is a good idea, though I'm not sure how long it is likely to last. Their first mailing tells us over 100 people have already signed up, though, which is very encouraging. Less welcome news is that a committee has already been formed, which is not a good sign, since most of us have only heard about it since the first meeting at which the committee was chosen. This suggests that the committee is likely to be composed of people who already know each other. I know from long experience with the Student Union that even the faintest whiff of a clique forming will only put off the quieter people. The committee has also been appointed rather than elected, too, and this will be the case until next term. How can a group dedicated to increasing representation in politics be so undemocratic?

First big meeting is 8pm, Thursday 12th February, Lecture Room XI, Brasenose College. Do come.

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