By Steve Cull
There is no greater lie than a statistic.
Anyone who has ever written a report knows that you can manipulate facts and figures to make whatever point you want. Inclusion or omission of certain data can serve whatever devious ends you can dream up. That said, there is a time and place for looking at the numbers and seeing what arises. Let’s see what a quick analysis of the make-up of the National Management Committee since 2004 throws up.
A particularly human Scouter completed the following statistical analysis and there is no doubt that there is some human error contained within. Data was compiled on a best-efforts basis using annual reports, personal recollections and picking the brains of other Scouts and Scouters active at a national level. Behind every number there are decisions and assumptions. Where it is useful to know what those are, they are included. There are no conscious judgments or opinions in this piece, just the numbers, honest.
This analysis will look at gender, geography and legacy association among other things. Other things include such delicious topics as how membership of a fellowship patrol crosses over with membership of the NMC and how likely an NMC member is to complete his/her term.
Let’s start with an easy one, laying out the basis of this statistical analysis. My calculations show that there have been 68 different members of the NMC since the foundation of Scouting Ireland (excluding the Interim NMC for simplicity). These members have an average term length of 3.4 years (basic rounding is in place here when a member has not completed a full year).
12 women (18%) have been members of the NMC, leaving 56 men (82%) to make up the numbers.
35% of the members are from the Dublin Scout Province, an unsurprising over-representation, with the province contributing 19% of the national membership (at end 2014). There is a common narrative that North Eastern Province has dominated decision making since the formation of Scouting Ireland. True? Well, it has had 13% of the NMC members since 2004, in comparison to its contribution of 20% of the national membership. So on this level at least, it has been underrepresented proportionally. The West and South make up the numbers for under representation (West, 2 members, 3%, 11% of national membership – South 9 members, 13%, 18% of national membership). The Northern Province and the South East are in goldilocks territory, just right, with the NP having 10% of the NMC members and 10% of the national membership and the SEP with 24% of the NMC members for 23% of the national membership. No member from the Western Province has ever been elected to the National Management Committee other than for the position of Provincial Commissioner for that province.
There have been 2 Chief Scouts, 3 Chief Commissioners (Youth Programme), 5 Chief Commissioners (Adult Resources), 4 National Secretaries, 3 National Treasurers, and 4 NSRAP coordinators. There have been 5 Communications Commissioners and 4 International Commissioners. After a bad start for under 26 members, with vacancies and resignations common, stability has prevailed in these roles in recent years, with members far more likely to complete their terms. My analysis suggests that only 2 members have served 2 full terms as Provincial Commissioners to date, though this will likely increase in 2016. 3 members have been Provincial Commissioners and subsequently members of the NTPIC (for all intents and purpose the ‘National Officers’).
‘Ah, the ol’ NTPIC’, I hear you say, how about some stats on that subset of NMC? 20 different volunteers have sat at that table, plus 2 Chief Executives. Gender gap here is stark, with only 15% of members having been female. Assuming that the NSRAP members are not necessarily members of Scout groups in a province, members with an association with groups in Dublin Scout Province dominate, at 30% of NTPICers. No members from the Northern and Western province have sat at the NTPIC table to date. 3 each from the Southern and South Eastern provinces and 4 from the North East make up the numbers. Again excluding the NSRAP representatives, 81% of members of the NTPIC come from the CBSI/Scouting Ireland (CSI) tradition and there hasn’t been a NTPICer from the BSI/SAI/Scouting Ireland S.A.I. tradition since 2009, there having been a 50/50 split at the foundation of the new Scouting Ireland.
THE NEW ASSOCIATION IS RUN BY SEA SCOUTS
As a young Scouter in Cork I remember some CBSI/Scouting Ireland (CSI) stalwarts decrying that Sea Scouts ran the new association. Despite having 8% of the national membership (close to the membership of the WP and NP) and 4 of the largest 10 groups in the country, just 1 Sea Scout has been a member of the NMC since the foundation of Scouting Ireland, and that for a very short period.
BEFORE I SIGN OFF
Here are some quick nuggets for those who are interested in conspiracies/remarkable coincidences. 5 members have gone on to work for Scouting Ireland or one of its subsidiary companies. There have been almost as many members of the Buffalo Patrol (10) on the NMC as women (based on a recent list published online), bearing in mind one member satisfies both criteria. After National Council 2015, this is the first time since the foundation of Scouting Ireland that there has been no member of that fellowship among the volunteers who sit at the NMC table. 74% of members come from the CBSI/Scouting Ireland (CSI) tradition. One in 10 members have occupied more than one role on the NMC. One in 5 NMC terms has not been completed due to a member resigning, running for another position or taking up a staff role.
Food for thought?
Corrections welcome on any human errors readers may find.