I was saddened to read the coordinated responses to College freshman Ariel Koren’s guest column. Of course, Penn is not free of obstacles to female leadership. Yet Koren’s advice for students to stop worrying about the “female leadership issue” and do their own thing merited neither belittlement nor admonishment.
When Koren was elected 2015 Class Board President this past fall, The Daily Pennsylvanian ran the headline “Freshmen elect first female Class Board President since 2004.” In the headline, Koren was identified as a female — not by her name.
Should we blame Koren for feeling uncomfortable that from day one in office, she became identified as the female that won the competitive election?
Some students believe that the best way to achieve gender equality is to be more critical of the barriers to success that women face on campus. Conversely, many women on campus believe that gender equality will be reached when there is no longer any need for front-page news to recognize the accomplishments of a woman as a leader simply because of her sex. Each of us has a unique notion of feminism that should be embraced — whether it is traditional or progressive.
By earning a position on student government, Koren broke a very powerful barrier faced by female students who seek popularly elected positions on campus. By stating that being a chick was no big deal in achieving her goal, she sought to encourage female students hoping to pursue their passions — not dismiss or trivialize the hardships faced by others
We all agree that women should be seen as equals to their male counterparts, but it is clear that there is no consensus on how to get there. Unfortunately, I fear that others will hesitate to share their opinions if it means incurring the wrath of other female leaders that may espouse conflicting views.
Lauren Plotnick is a College senior and former ‘Daily Pennsylvanian’ Executive Editor. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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