Girls speech workshop promotes gender balance for future officer positions


Mimi Geller

Co-presidents of USC Numi Katz and Emilia Topp-Johnson led a female-identifying speechwriting workshop on May 14 in the Lecture Room for girls interested in running for an officer position. “Hopefully we are setting the precedent that we should have a lot of girls running for elected positions,” Katz said.

Mimi Geller, Director of RubicOnline

Co-presidents of Upper School Council (USC) and seniors Numi Katz and Emilia Topp-Johnson sat formally at the front table in the Lecture Room on May 14 during tutorial. Their laptops were opened. This wasn’t a homework session, however, this was Katz and Topp-Johnson’s way of facilitating a speechwriting workshop for female-identifying students who wish to run for an officer position in their class. The girls who attended were there to get feedback, take notes, and learn from two veteran USC officials who understand the struggle of conveying to an audience why it is they want to join a council.

Yet the workshop additionally sought to remedy the pervasive gendered imbalance of females in officer positions, particularly in USC. Currently, when Katz and Topp-Johnson graduate, there will only be two girls in USC in a council of about twenty people. This workshop serves as a step toward combating this trend. Katz articulates her reasoning behind a push for a workshop and a greater conversation about gender balance in the SPA community:

“I started on a council where all of the leadership except for secretaries were all guys, and that really shaped me as a young woman in leadership and how I saw USC in kind of a negative way. I want to make sure that other girls are encouraged to run and feel supported in running for elected positions,” Katz said.

Hopefully we are setting the precedent that we should have a lot of girls running for elected positions

— USC co-president Numi Katz

Often times, Katz admits, she sees girls who write a speech that they weren’t pleased with so they do not win in the election which makes them feel unworthy to run the following year.

“Hopefully we are setting the precedent that we should have a lot of girls running for elected positions,” Katz said.

Sophomore Anjali Tadavarthy seeks to serve as a class representative on Community Conduct Committee (C3). She attended this workshop in hopes to improve her speech draft and make it more relatable to her peers.

“I think it’s a really good idea for upper class girls to teach younger girls how to write speeches especially if they’ve been successful in elections before. It will foster a better environment for female leadership at SPA,” Tadavarthy said.

To any female-identifying student who is thinking about running for a position on any council or committee, Katz affirms that leaders simply need a caring attitude and honest drive:

“Have faith in yourself. There are so many talented girls. Being a good leader isn’t about always yelling at people or always knowing what to do, it’s about listening to people and cultivating a productive and empathetic environment. I think the most important thing is that if you care about what you’re running for and you’re dedicated to it, that’s what makes you a good leader. If you’re thinking about running you already care for it and it’s okay to be nervous,” Katz said.

On May 18 students will deliver speeches to their class on why they wish to be elected, and hopefully, many girls will gain incentive to run for a position as well.