05 October 2014


Hiya there!

I wrote this blog post on the 3rd of October- exactly three months since I introduced myself to you via this very blog. Since then, I have been busying myself pouring over facts and figures, researching the Union's history, and talking to as many people as possible regarding wom*n’s involvement and leadership within the Union.

It seems to be that wom*n’s leadership is discussed a lot these days. Companies, charities and political parties are all eager to look like they’re doing something for wom*n. Yet it doesn’t seem to be making much of an impact on younger wom*n; the wom*n who need this encouragement most.

A recent study conducted by the children’s charity Plan found that 1% of Australian girls between 14 and 25 want to go into politics. 49% of the same group think that sexism affects the career path they choose, and half believe that sexist attitudes in Australia are actually increasing.

So why don’t wom*n want to get out there, lead the country and change the world? And since university is a microcosm of the real world, surely we have a duty to change this. To make sure that anybody, of any gender identity feels like they can study what they want, and pursue a career they can be passionate about or even just have fun in whatever hobbies they choose? 

We’re not doing too badly. Wom*n’s participation in the Union has gone from strength to strength over the past few years. Over half of our 11-strong Student Board identify as wom*n, and we have our fourth wom*n-identifying President in a row. Not so long ago, this would have been unthinkable.

The reason that we can be so proud of having so many great wom*n at the top is undoubtedly because of strategies such as Affirmative Action (commonly referred to as AA). AA has been in place in the Board of Director elections since 2007 and our provisions require that 2 out of every 5 candidates elected in an even-ending year, and 3 out of 6 in an odd-ending year be wom*n-identifying. Additionally, half of all editing teams (BULL magazine and Hermes) and all committees (Clubs and Societies and Debates) must be wom*n.

For further info on our AA policy, including when and why it was implemented, please see here: http://usu.edu.au/About-Us/Side-Callouts/About-Us.aspx

Two years ago, these policies were reviewed in what became a landmark of recent Union history: the Affirmative Action (AA) Review. In over 40 pages it handed down 17 recommendations targeted at how we can improve wom*n’s participation in every level of the Union. Amongst other things, it suggested that we implement AA in the Model Constitution of Clubs and Societies. Yet two years on, this still hasn’t been implemented.

So that’s why this Wednesday, 8th of October, I’m hosting a members’ forum to gather feedback on both broad and specific issues relating to wom*n’s participation and leadership within the University of Sydney community. I want to find out what has changed since 2012, if anything.
I want to hear what you think about wom*n in the arts, clubs and societies, student leadership, representation, what issues we should be addressing to create change and how we communicate our strategies to the broader student community. And the only way I can truly know the state of the Union is to ask YOU.

For the Facebook event, see here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1506167239631134/
The discussion paper, 25 pages of my feminist heart and soul on paper in ink form, is available here:  http://bit.ly/1rJWKYAs

The forum will be held in two parts; autonomous and non-autonomous. The autonomous session will be held at 5pm in The Wom*n’s Room, Level One of Manning House. It is open to all those whom identify as, or whom have lived experience as a wom*n. All who feel they meet that criteria are welcome and the Union does not believe in gender-policing. 

The non-autonomous session will begin at 6.15pm in the McCallum Cullen Room, Holme Building.

For more information please do not hesitate to contact me on k.bullen@usu.edu.au

As usual, I will also be available to chat in the Wom*n’s Room during my consultation hours on Wednesday between 2-4pm.


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