Edinburgh: The New Home Of Feminism?
With the election of the Royal Society’s first female president, the Scottish capital is leading the way for women.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh has its first ever female president. EUSA recently declared itself to be a feminist organisation. Aside from the Meadows at night, Edinburgh seems like a pretty good place to be a woman.
As of 2011/12, the undergraduate female/male ratio at the University of Edinburgh was 58:42. This is pretty consistent with higher education across the UK. Intelligent, educated women are not rare.
So why does the RSE having its first female president make it into the news? The reason is that it is representative of the enfranchisement of women into the ‘Establishment’.Despite having the vote for nearly a century, social institutions still stand in the way of women. The faiths, the banks and the police force all present obstacles to gender equality, despite being significant parts of our society.
Board rooms and government are two well-documented examples of the establishment where women are under-represented. David Cameron has come under flack for not hitting his target for 33% of female cabinet ministers, and particularly recently, his new all male front bench.
In fact, there are an equal number of men from just Eton and Westminster as there are women in his cabinet. This isn’t a party-political problem though. Labour governments had a similar issue, and future governments probably will too.
There is clear inconsistency with the established roles of power in our society, and the talent that our education systems produce. There is a wall separating men and power with the rest of society. Gender equality is one of the defining issues of our generation, and it has ramifications across the entirety of our society, but most importantly, at the top of it.
Feminism’s aim, from Emmeline Pankhurst to Peter Tatchell, has been to push towards genuine gender equality. So in the city where Scotland passed gay marriage into law, with the UK’s first explicitly feminist university and a new female president for the RSE, the message is:
The wall is coming down, and Edinburgh is wielding the hammer.