Saturday, August 13, 2011

Some demographic considerations

Our egg collective does not have a large membership, and so it's statistically not necessarily representative of the broader community.  However, we have the same number of members as Windsor's City Council, and this brings up a couple of interesting things to think about.

First of all, let's look at how many of our member families have children in elementary school:  there are 8 of us who fall in this category.  The remaining two families both have grandchildren.

Contrast that to our City Council, where the numbers are completely reversed.  I don't know the ages of the children of Councillors Dilkens and Marra, but since they are both in the same age range as most of our members, I will assume their children are of a similar age too:


Another interesting demographic factor is the gender split.  While all the collective's members are families (i.e. there are no single people, though that's not by design), it's fair to say that there is only one family in the group where both spouses play an equal role.  In all the other families, one spouse tends to make more visits to the coop than the other, and also contributes more to the decision making and record keeping.  This is not a problem or a criticism at all;  it's just the way it works.  What is interesting is that in the vast majority of cases, it's the females who play this dominant role:


On Windsor's City Council this relationship, again, is completely reversed.  We have one female councillor and nine males.  Again, this isn't necessarily a criticism, but it is worth noting that this gender difference may be causing a bit of a disconnect between the issues that are more important to some of their constituents and what the councillors may believe is important to us:

What does this mean?  In most families, it's women who play a larger role in the family's food choices.  Without getting into a discussion about why this is so, or whether it is good or bad, I do believe this is why we have more dominant female members than male members.  Mothers also tend to be more concerned with the minutiae of their childrens' daily activities, and I think it's fair to say that in most cases, it was the mothers who were the driving force behind the decision to join the collective so their children could learn more about where their food comes from.

Of course, when we keep ourselves busy with childrearing, there is less time for other activities, and it's probably not unreasonable to deduce that this is one of the major reasons why so few females are involved in muncipal politics.  It may also be the primary reason why there isn't a single female with young children currently on our city council.

To me, this helps to explain our council's reluctance to take backyard chickens very seriously.  It doesn't make it right, however.  Since approximately half of their constituents are female, our elected representatives need to ensure they listen to everybody.  At election time, when candidates develop their platforms, it's a good idea to consider a broad array of important issues.  While the big-ticket matters of job creation and infrastructure will always be important, there are other issues that don't always carry as many visible dollar signs, but are still important to our quality of life.  And those are often the issues that matter more to female constituents, particularly those with younger children.

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