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Taking Up Space: Being a Woman in Model UN

Written by Sophia Alicea

December 27, 2021

Taking Up Space: Being a Woman in Model UN

Sexism in Model UN is inevitable. You will be talked over, challenged your legitimacy, and pitted against other women as a woman. The term “bossy” describes any woman who attempts to lead and take charge. It’s an aggravating situation that can make women question their capabilities and feel forced to quiet down or be more polite. 

You should never have to adjust your conduct to accommodate someone else’s inadequacies; instead, concentrate on your own abilities.


Stop Apologizing


You have nothing to be sorry for–if you are interrupted, it is not your job to abandon your ideas and opinions to appease a group of people or another delegate. Now, do not take this as advice to never apologize. Apologizing is reserved for genuine mishaps. Compulsive or excessive apologies will be a confidence killer in the committee to yourself and your fellow delegates.

Excessive apologizing has the potential to undermine your credibility in the committee. 

Maintaining excellent diplomatic etiquette necessitates— that it is essential to begin removing the word “sorry” from your lexicon. Over-apologizing may appear to be a convenient method to avoid uncomfortable talks, but it simply reveals a lack of accountability and predictability in your committee approach.


Rhetoric that Prioritizes Objectivity


Most women in Model UN get treated as if they have little to no capability to read the background guide and understand the material, leading them to be mansplained to or disregarded entirely. Women struggle for the respect and trust men receive immediately and are seldom given chances to prove their expertise on the subject. A way to combat this bias is to find your balance between pathos and objectivity. As a woman in Model UN, it is expected for our strengths to naturally lie in a Social, Cultural, and Humanitarian Committee (SOCHUM), not in a male-dominated war cabinet crisis. Especially in military, business, and economic-based committees where war, economic policies, and reforms are typically viewed as more “masculine,” whereas humanitarian committees are considered as “softer” or “more feminine.” Gender does not inhibit your success in any committee–something essential for everyone to acknowledge, both in discrimination before and during committee.




If height is your main disadvantage, it must be a priority to be distinguishable audibly, allowing your voice to travel throughout the committee room. Take a direct stance on people taller than you or look more traditionally “intimidating.” Avoid being discouraged by height, this is a natural disadvantage for many women, but it is your job to reclaim it. Eye contact is most important for this. It can be a decisive move to make people turn around and look down. Your male counterparts will then have to make a conscious effort to pay attention to you. You can ensure this by being strong in your voice and displaying confidence. It is truly all about the way you present yourself. 

As a woman in Model UN, always remember that you can and should take up space.

Pro Tip: Take up space and let yourself become distinguishable throughout the committee, especially in an unmoderated caucus. It’s a good thing to be commanding and assertive; it does not mean you’re bossy, and it doesn’t mean you’re rude. 


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