Shifke '12 elected as first female president of Ivy
Shifke, whose brother John Shifke ’10 served as the president of Ivy two years ago, is the third woman to be elected an eating club president for the upcoming year.
Julia Blount ’12 was recently elected as president of Quadrangle Club and Susan Zhang ’12 was elected as Colonial Club president for the upcoming year.
Caroline Shifke declined to comment for this article.
Though Ivy has never before had a female president, its outgoing officer corps include a female vice president and bicker chair.
Last year Rachel Blum ’11, of Cap & Gown Club, was the only female eating club president. The year before, there were no female presidents of eating clubs.
While Tower Club, Terrace Club, Cloister Inn and Charter Club have had female presidents in the past, Tiger Inn and Cottage Club have yet to elect female presidents.
The apparent absence of women in eating club leadership positions was one of the factors that led to the establishment of the Steering Committee on Undergraduate Women’s Leadership in 2009.
In a statement released in December of that year, President Shirley Tilghman said, “It has been noted that the officers of the Undergraduate Student Government and the 10 eating clubs, as well as recent Rhodes and Marshall Scholars have been predominantly male, while women are more often leaders in the residential colleges and community service organizations.”
The Women’s Center hosted a panel of former female eating club presidents in February 2010, shortly after the Steering Committee was established, featuring speakers that included former Tower president Stephanie Burset ’09, former Terrace president Becky Gidel ’06, former Colonial president Tracy Dowling ’05 and former Cap & Gown president Lizzy Biney-Amissah ’04.
The former presidents did not run for president of their respective clubs in order to prove anything about their gender, they said at the panel, but simply because they thought they could improve the clubs.
Blum noted as well in an interview that she didn't feel that being a woman created any problems for her during her presidency.
"Going into it, I was a little scared about having to kick people out, and not physically being bigger than the other members, but that's what the bouncers are there for," she said. "We all have resources to use, and it's all about using those resources. I don't think I faced any challenges that the male presidents before me didn't face ... I had support in the [Interclub Council]. I didn't feel left out of anything."
Ivy was one of the last two clubs to admit women when a federal judge ruled in 1990 that Ivy and TI had to allow women to bicker.
The ruling came 11 years after Sally Frank ’80 filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the clubs when she was rejected from Ivy.
Ivy and Tiger Inn made the change in membership restrictions in 1991.
More than 20 women participated in the fall bicker session held in the weeks after the ruling was passed down.
Cottage, which was initially implicated in the lawsuit, elected to go co-ed in 1986.
The Cap and Gown Club and Tower Club voted to admit women in 1971, and several other clubs followed suit in 1972.