Model United Nations is a simulation of one of the most diverse organizations in the world, inviting delegates of all races, religions, and sexes to debate and help combat a variety of issues. We participate in Model UN so that we have the ability to face and hopefully solve those same issues on whatever scale we can. Yet, it is sadly evident that in the world of Model UN, the same embracement of diversity has been continually put aside for stereotyping and bullying – causing The Gender Divide.
The UN prides itself on being free of discrimination, and to see what MUN has succumbed to – isolating different genders into blocks of their own, refusing to listen to ideas because the opinion of one sex is preferred over that of the other, and generalizing an entire gender based upon one experience – is quite disappointing and worrying.
The Gender Divide is broken up into a series of stereotypes, ranging from delegate skill to appearance, and below are a few examples of issues seen commonly in committee:
Appearance and Dress:
This is an issue that is prevalent in both sexes, and many females feel obliged as a result of external influences or believe that attempting to appear more “attractive” is a way of increasing their chances of gaining support in committee. This archetype is essentially objectifying women, and forcing delegates to worry about their appearance more than their actual skill.
Males also face this issue, but in a less demeaning manner. Many are being told they must dress to appear “powerful” and overarching, forcing them to base their style on the opinions of others.
Fashion, while playing an important part in first impressions, should not force delegates to use their sexuality as a means of getting ahead in committee, and the divide forces many to feel self-conscious and more worried about their appearance than performance.
Segregated Block Formation:
This issue is visible in all types of committees, where delegates of a specific gender stick together, sometimes even causing all female and all male blocks. This mainly happens because delegates feel isolated from the other gender when their ideas aren’t taken into consideration, and can become very detrimental to the self-esteem as well as motivation to those who feel left out.
Due to this discouragement from working together, a lot of time blocks are oblivious to various opinions and end up becoming quite one sided, hindering further compromise and sacrificing the diplomatic aspect that defines Model UN.
Delegate Skill and Expectations:
This is stereotype typically associated with female delegates, and the severity of this issue far outweighs the previous problems. Many times, well versed and sagacious female delegates are not afforded the opportunity to share their ideas with blocks and other delegates because they are automatically presumed to be inferior to males. As a result, females are automatically associated with seemingly “petty” tasks, and if they do manage to be not isolated due to blatant sexism, many times females will be expected to solely work on things such as NGO representation and not given an opportunity to write clauses associated with the main solutions in a resolution, thus furthering generalizing Model UN and writing skill solely by gender. This same type of segregation can be evident when speakers are chosen for things such a draft resolution presentations, with many times females being refused spots because they are told they lack the speaking skills to go up.
At the same time, many male delegates are expected to be the leaders in committee, being told that power is the most important thing and as males they must be the sole voice in committee. This forces many delegates to carry a power delegate attitude, as the pressure put on them because of their gender leads them to focus solely on winning and neglecting other people’s opinions.
Despite all of these unfortunate issues, there are some occasions in which the “gender divide” is nonexistent and delegates work together harmoniously regardless of sex. Situations like these are when the United Nations is accurately simulated and consensus is worked towards. It is our responsibility as delegates to shift the focus from winning and stereotypes to diplomacy and equality. The Gender Divide is a concept that should have faded from society centuries ago, and while the world attempts to combat sexism, many Model UN delegates unknowingly embrace it. A difference can only be made if a conscious effort is put into stopping sexism in Model UN, and that effort must be made by you, the delegate.