Great article to check out on the gender gap in debate, politics and leadership. And why it is critical to join the debate team. "Women Lead In High School, So Why Not After?" (http://www.refinery29.com/2017/08/169357/female-student-council-president-ceo-sexism). The author examines how young women in high school and college are represented in student government and student council, but are being left out of critical extracurricular activities like debate. The long term implication is the gender gap in politics, government and leadership. One of the recommended solutions is for high school young women to join their school's debate team to learn the advocacy and communication skills to close the gender gap in government.
Wang examines how women are well represented in high school student councils and student government but are not participating in debate in equal numbers of men. "As of now, more men than women compete in high school debate, and the gender gap widens as you move up the levels of competitiveness." However, young women despite involvment and leadership in student government and youth student council - are hitting a glass ceiling in college and after when it comes to government and politics. There is a huge gap in terms of women participation in government and politics. "So, what’s going on? Why are the leadership skills and traits that women foster in high school not effective at propelling them forward in college? The answer might lie in the kind of extracurriculars that give young people an advantage in college-level politics, which, surprisingly, might not be student council — the most obvious choice."
Students are not learning advocacy, communication, argumentation and other critical political skills. "It’s the classic problem: High schools are putting the cart before the horse. Young women leave high school student councils with the ability to identify injustices, but without the rhetorical skills nor taste for conflict to defend their positions. This early imbalance only gets magnified later on, as workplace sexism become a daily part of their lives. But, the rules of the game are being rewritten at the highest levels, and empathy towards real human struggles, an understanding of who loses when some win, and a big-picture view are becoming more crucial."
Whereas students who participate on debate teams are learning those skills. "One high school extracurricular that does foster competitiveness and acts as an agent of political socialization is debate. Debate does not teach you leadership, governing, or administrative skills, but it does check off both those crucial boxes for future politicians in ways that student councils do not. Debaters graduate having researched how real policies affect real people, know how to aggressively argue their positions (even if they don’t personally agree with them), and crave the feeling of repeatedly winning week after week, sometimes hour after hour. Even if they lack the sense of service, they know how to project authority. John McBlair, who coaches debate at Menlo-Atherton High School in Northern California, has seen this firsthand with his students.“Being informed, finding credible sources, using sound reasoning. It’s about being aggressive, and selling yourself as smarter while still remaining likable,” he says “You’re ultimately selling yourself — this makes it particularly relevant to politics.”
Wang continues: "Of course, the most effective leaders know how to both argue their points and lead a meeting, and their beliefs are founded in principles other than winning. But high school students who spent their high schools in debate club, Parli Pro, and Model UN may be better equipped to immediately excel at college government than students who participated in student council. Oftentimes, women in leadership and service clubs leave with the motivation to enact change in their communities, but not necessarily with the understanding that executing those things more often resemble fights rather than projects."