On April 3, the Yale School of Management student body elected its fourth female student body president in a row — a sign of increasing female involvement and diversity at the business school.
Brittan Berry SOM ’16, who was just elected for the position, will follow current student government president Alexa Allen SOM ’15, Maya Sudhakaran SOM ’14 and Caitlin Sullivan SOM ’13 in a line of SOM female leadership. Although the SOM does not reveal or publish the breakdown of election results, Berry said that in order to win the presidential seat, candidates need to win the votes of at least 40 percent of student voters. This year, that percentage amounted to 112 people, she said. Berry also said this continuity in female leadership speaks to the SOM’s dedication to diversity.
“I think the SOM is continuously moving forward in its mission to become one of the most diverse business schools,” she said.
Berry said that although positions on the student government for next year’s first-year students have not yet been decided, the chosen members of the next year’s student government are very equitably divided between men and women. In the 2014–15 academic year, 15 out of 31 elected student government officials were women, Allen said, adding that the trend is reflective of how at the SOM, “diversity is the norm.”
Sullivan said it is unsurprising that this unique student body does not pay credence to traditional gender hierarchies in selecting student government leaders.
Sullivan also said this trend is indicative of women across the school taking leadership positions in various clubs. To this effect, Sullivan said that although her class at the SOM was about 35 percent women, the women within the school exhibited disproportionate influence because of the leadership positions they occupied.
Similarly, Nicholas Veltri SOM ’15, who does not sit on the SOM’s student government but said he has been to some of the organization’s open meetings, said a female leadership presence is growing on campus. The Finance Club, for example, for which Veltri currently serves as president, will be led by a woman next year.
Allen said that roughly half of all leadership positions at the SOM are occupied by women. She also said that because student government members are from all kinds of backgrounds, many diverse groups at the school are represented through this medium. However, she said that in case this does not create adequate means for voicing minority opinions, the student government has in place various feedback mechanisms and subcommittees to address all points of view. For example, at every student government meeting, there is a 30-minute period called “buzz,” during which concerns can be raised.
Rob Wu SOM ’15, who served as a vice president in the SOM’s student government this year, said that although women have occupied the student government presidential position in recent years, men at the school have also been interested in running for the position. Two men ran against each of the women for the last four years.
“In reality, these four women are extremely different. They each have their own viewpoints, agendas, styles, strengths and weaknesses,” Wu said.
The SOM’s student government in its current form was established in 2006.