We still live in a world of glass ceilings. Despite generations of women who could have been leaders, the highest of offices in this country have a largely male legacy. And even as intrepid candidates have thrown their metaphorical hats into the metaphorical ring, they’ve found themselves faced with obstacles ranging from outright sexism to more subtle resistance to change. Still, in 2016, a small handful of women are willing to brave those challenges in pursuit of the opportunity to lead.
And no, we’re not talking about Carly Fiorina or Hillary Clinton.
Today, we’re celebrating pioneering women Kaitlyn McCain and Viona Vraniqi, who are campaigning to become Texas A&M’s first female yell leader. As the Dallas Morning News reports, McCain understands that the weight of history is on her and Vraniqi’s shoulders:
“This would be a history-making moment,” said 20-year-old Kaitlyn McCain, an early childhood education major from North Richland Hills.
She and Viona Vraniqi, a 21-year-old human resource development student from McKinney, are the two women in a field of 16 candidates, which also includes Kenny Dao of Rowlett, an Asian American candidate. The yell leader election typically attracts strong campus interest, reportedly drawing more than twice as many votes as the race for student body president.
The yell leader tradition, of course, was started by men. (When it started, A&M was an all-male institution.) In fact, Aggie lore claims that the practice began when upperclassman “ordered a group of freshmen to entertain their dates” during a football game in which A&M was getting blown out, and the women, bored, were going to leave. But in the 107 years since, A&M and the yell leaders have evolved—just not, as of yet, to the point where women have been able to participate.
They’ve tried, though. Although McCain and Vraniqi are the current women attempting to make the cut, Samantha Ketchum made national news when she sought the post in 2012, though she failed to crack the field of five. At this point, McCain and Vraniqi’s hopes that they could be the ones to break A&M’s glass ceiling have to be considered a long shot—but we’ll be watching to see if history is made.