“As a woman, people are going to level a lot more criticism at you.”
This was a remark made by Annie Hoey, Deputy President of the USI, as she recalled the harsh media coverage she faced when campaigning for her position. Hoey was one of the speakers at the second event of TCDSU’s Leadership 101 series.
On Tuesday, the Trinity College Student’s Union (TCDSU) hosted a ‘‘Women in Leadership’ seminar in the Global Room. There were five speakers at the event; Sinéad Baker, editor of the University Times; Aoibhinn Loughlin, the Welfare Officer of TCDSU; Hillary Hogan, Auditor of the Law Society; Ludivine Rebet, last year’s president of the Phil, and Annie Hoey, USI President.
The panel covered various aspects of the struggles women face when campaigning, or leading a society or union. Each of the speakers shared stories based on their own experiences, which made for a touching, informative, and often humorous evening.
Baker spoke about the pressures she faced having run for editor of the UT twice and the difficult decision she had to make to withdraw from the race the first time around, feeling she was letting people down. She then said that this guilt shouldn’t have been the case and this realisation gave her the confidence to run again the next year, where she successfully won the position as editor. “The biggest thing is you feeling confident […] it’s coming from yourself.”
Loughlin expressed the difficulties she faced when campaigning for Welfare Officer of the SU, further elaborating on the necessary elements of a good campaign. She also spoke about the expectation of women leaders to be gentle and kind as opposed to ‘boisterous’ and the way in which she sought to combat this.
Hogan spoke about her campaign experience and the elements she feels one requires for it to be successful. “You have to have faith in your own ability,” rang through as a powerful statement which resonated with many women in the room.
Rebet, President of the Phil during it’s 331st session and Chair of the Central Society Committee for two weeks, spoke about her leadership experiences with various societies. She stated that a woman’s lack of history in a certain area shouldn’t stop her from running as she jokingly remarked that there should be “the same amount of mediocre women running as mediocre men”.
Rebet also mentioned the feminist environment within the Phil and how she felt it was achievable in the other societies in Trinity. Finally, she spoke about the burden some women face to maintain their personal appearance in the workplace, when in fact it is not expected of male co-workers .
Lastly, Hoey delivered a series of humorous anecdotes, as well as gripping stories of the obstacles she faced when running for USI President. Hoey talked about her shyness at the beginning of college and how although she lost her first campaign for President, she ran again and managed to win. She mentioned the harsh portrayal of her in the media during the campaign and how there was greater emphasis placed upon her appearance then the campaign itself. Her main message to the audience, which summed up that of the entire event, was, “You cannot be what you cannot see”.