“Run.” That’s the message to women in a newly released video featuring Undergraduate Council Vice President Pratyusha Yalamanchi ’13.
The video, posted on the Harvard College Women’s Center’s YouTube channel, came three days prior to the deadline for submitting declarations of candidacy.
Though the number of women on the UC, a persistent topic of concern, has increased in recent years, female representatives still make up less than 40 percent of the Council.
“I think that all Harvard students have the capacity to run for the UC,” says Yalamanchi in the minute-long video. “I think it’s just realizing that your perspective is valuable to student government here.”
Last fall, the UC released a report on gender parity that revealed only 35 percent of UC representatives were female, up from fall 2010 statistics, when women numbered only 25 percent.
The report proposed initiatives to equalize the gender balance, including working to achieve a level gender ratio within specific UC committees and reaching out to potential candidates at the Women’s Center.
Current UC President Danny P. Bicknell ’13, co-author of the report, said he hopes to encourage dialogue about gender barriers.
“The UC is supposed to be a representative student government,” said Bicknell. “If we have such a large gender gap–last year 35 percent female–then that is not really reflective of the student body.”
Yalamanchi shared a similar sentiment as she reflected on the video and her path into student government.
“Women are approximately 50 percent of the College and provide a really valuable perspective for funding and advocacy at Harvard,” she said. “A female UC president encouraged me to run when I was a freshman, and I want to do the same for other women on campus.”
In conjunction with the Women’s Center, the UC has made other efforts to reach out to undergraduate women aside from this week’s video. The Council tailored all three of its election workshops to addressing issues facing female candidates, and a new report on gender and leadership is due out this year, according to Bicknell. Applicants of all genders need to submit their candidate declaration by Friday at noon. More information can be found on the UC’s website.
“Women provide a really useful perspective on the UC,” Yalamanchi said at the end of the video. “I encourage all of you to run.”
—Staff writer Quinn D. Hatoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.