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More than 100 student activists from across the nation piled into an overflowing room at the Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, to brainstorm strategies for increasing the number of women activists in the libertarian movement.
The panel, entitled “Girls! Girls! Girls!: Marketing Libertarianism to Women,” featured YouTube personality Julie Borowski, Reason magazine’s Cathy Reisenwitz, and Young Americans for Liberty’s Bonnie Kristian.
Predictably, the vast majority of attendees were male.
The discussion commenced with all three panelists acknowledging a disparity in the ratio of male-to-female activists exists in the libertarian movement.
“[O]bviously I think there is a gender imbalance in the movement,” said Julie Borowski.
Borowski added that she felt the imbalance might be in part because women care more about fitting into society than men.
“Women tend to care more about fitting in,” she said. “I do think there is a barrier for entry to women because it’s not part of popular culture yet.”
The other panelists chimed in, arguing the disparity might be because of faulty marketing.
“[The] Democrats’ tones are generally perceived as hopeful and friendly, where Republicans are seen as the angry old men telling women of the world to get off their lawn,” said Kristian.
However, while Borowski, Reisenwitz, and Kristian all acknowledged a problem, the panel didn’t appear to provide any silver bullets.
The panelists tossed around various solutions throughout the 45-minute session, from better implementing libertarian philosophy into pop culture to improving basic marketing towards women.
Students who attended the discussion had mixed reactions.
“I thought what they said was very helpful,” Abbey Walsh, a student at the University of North Carolina, told Campus Reform. “They listed a lot of ways the liberty doesn’t appeal to women and how we can fix that.”
Cameron Jones, a junior at the University of Pittsburgh, told Campus Reform he didn’t like the premise of the panel.
“I think there is entirely too much of a focus on this feminist aspect,” he said. “I am not anti-feminist, but the feminist movement is by definition anti-libertarian.”
The 45-minute discussion was part of the larger 2013 International Students For Liberty Conference, which organizers say was attended by over 1,000 of the top libertarian youth activists from across the world.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @oliverdarcy
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