Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Living among women of excellence: staying at a womens' residential college.

"Women of Excellence" is the motto of St Catherine's College in Western Australia.. Striving to become excellent was often drummed into us although few know what it actually means or the process that should followed to become such a woman.

While staying at a university residential college is often an experienced reserved for overseas or country students, I thought I might see what living in a female residential college was like. I had lived in a mixed college for a semester a few years back and so when I needed a place to live, my curiosity got the better of me and I moved into St Cats.

Being an all female establishment, I thought it would be ultra-feminist. I had visions of girls leaning over car bonnets with the aims of learning how cars worked and eating their breakfast with the Financial Review in one hand and their coffee in the other so that they could smash the negative stereotypes and master an area that is often dominated by men.

But instead of being a power house of female empowerment, it gives the impression that they were confused about what kind of environment they wanted to create. So they were in some vague and indefinite place in the middle, doing both the feminism and the traditional female cliché badly.

An example is that pink was the college colour and people wore t-shirts that said "boys are for playing with, not for living with". This seems to be incredibly cheap and I'm sure that providing jibes to those of the opposite sex will hardly increase their credibility.

The a few activities that were designed to empower women were few and far between lacked as well as lack any real substance.

Maybe this "Women of Excellence" was just a romantic myth that everyone was to aspire to but in reality didn't mean much. Perhaps it is a sign of the times, that despite the work done by the women before us, the role of females in our society is still a bit vague.

While we do have many more opportunities than those 150 years ago (and even 50 years ago), how to rise above the glass ceiling in a complexed issue and one that we still struggle with

But apart from confusion of what it is to be women in the 21st century, it was so much fun.

I'll never forget the friends that I made, the coffee that was drunk and conversations that were had in the corridors and the evenings spent, along with about a dozen other people, watching DVDs around someone's laptop.
So as I put my St Cats hooddy on this Saturday on the way to picking up my copy of the Financial Review, I will smile and think of the happy time I spent at college.
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