Resource Round-Up: Engaging Women in Meaningful Conversations on Campus

Happy Women’s History Month! As 51% of the world’s population, women deserve a bit more than a month and we’re starting it with a bang, by challenging everyone to integrate HERstories, the unique stories of women, into campus life year round.

We hope you’ve planned programs in advance and we want to help you take the conversation one step further. The field of student affairs is not immune from the glass escalator: when men in female-dominated careers rise higher and faster than women in male-dominated fields. We see fewer women in student government leadership roles at institutions, which can be perplexing… women are typically overrepresented on campuses, so the fact that women are underrepresented on campus is troubling.

The theme of this Women’s History Month is “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” This is a perfect opportunity for campuses to work with local women leaders and weave their stories into motivational opportunities for our students to develop their own narratives and leave their mark on the world!

We’ve started a list of resources based off of our own experiences, internal and external offices to partner with, and brought in national resources highlighting institutions who are leading the way in terms of creating inclusive environments and opportunities for women.

Host Train-the-Trainer Workshops

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) has several different programs that allow you to train groups of students while also certifying one or several staff members.

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$tart$mart Equal Pay & Salary Negotiation Workshop. This workshop is geared towards students who will be job searching, and they also offer work and return smart for non-traditional student populations as well.

Elect Her Workshops. These half day trainings practice hands-on campaign skills, bring in local speakers and use research on women’s student involvement in SGA to engage in meaningful conversations.

AAUW has a comprehensive set of resources to promote women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) on campus, which can be tied in nicely to other practices on campus.

A training resource for future student government leaders is Vote, Run, Lead. This is an offshoot of the White House Project which was formed to get more women into office.

Implement Campus Wide Programming

We realize that programing doesn’t (well sometimes it does, but it shouldn’t) occur in a bubble. Opportunities to collaborate with departments across campus are endless to put women at the forefront of academic or athletic programs – here’s your motivational push!

Consider hosting a film screening and a panel with international relations folks – films to consider could be 1,000 Voices Rising or Malala’s new film “He Named Me Malala” based on on a Pakistani teenager who advocates for girls’ education. Work with international students or professors who are experts in the field to sit on a panel to pair with the film to continue to increase awareness and discussions.

The Invisible War is a film that can be hosted with a panel of military leaders in the community, or local lawmakers. The filmmaker explores sexual assault violence in the military.

MissRepresentation is a film that highlights the representation of women in the media – partner with a film school or local new agencies to discuss some of the implementation pieces provided in the film – everything from curriculum development to student clubs came come out of a film like this!

During Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April), consider hosting The Hunting Ground to accompany other campus programming. Choose to host a panel with folks who can serve as resources on campus and provide peer and professional advocates for students to talk with privately if they’re triggered by the film.

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Hold a women’s leadership retreat. Retreats bring women together network and form relationships that otherwise may not exist on campuses. Participants develop and reflect on their own leadership skills, and discuss what they have to offer at their institution and beyond in life post-graduation. Some universities specifically pair undergraduates with women volunteer mentors on campus during these types of retreats to aid them in discussing how they can utilize their strengths in achievement of professional and personal goals.

Reach out to other campuses. We stumbled across Regis University’s campus with helpful Women’s History Month programming – past, present and future. They’re hosting a large Women’s History Month celebration, including things from coffeeshop panels, to speakers, to open courses that students can go to sit in on and learn more about the intersections of gender and race, human rights, and women’s issues.

Whatever film or resource you decide to pursue, make sure you have a team of professionals or advocates to aid the conversation and create a safe space for women to talk about their experiences, concerns, and opinions.

Utilize Your Institution’s Alumni Network

These include, but aren’t limited to:

Community leaders. Thought leaders, non-profit leaders, or local political leaders.

Business owners. People who’ve found their niche are great role models for students to learn how to network – and this an opportunity to partner with career services or other offices on campus.

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If you have alumni who are knowledgeable and popular in STEM fields – invite them campus to share how they’ve navigated challenges in the workplace or share insight to their own paths.

Work with your athletics department to bring in women and Title IX specific programming to provide opportunities for student athletes to network and gain more information about the intersection of being a woman athlete.

Strengthen Community Partnerships

Work with your on-campus or local LGBT center to talk about intersectionality and how to navigate workplace environments and national policies.

Partner with multicultural affairs offices to highlight how women of color make an impact – bring in leaders for panels to discuss inclusivity that extends beyond privileged white women.

Develop a critical book club of pop culture women’s books — i.e. #GirlBoss, Lean In, Lean Out, Bossy Pants, and Yes Please.

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Contact local chapters of league of women votes. Provide resources around election day and discuss how this election will impact women in particular.

Business & professional women’s leagues. Have them host a meeting an on-campus meeting to recruit students. Partner with your alumni and career services offices and to turn it into a networking opportunity. Host a networking and resume building event beforehand to teach women how to make the most out of their network!

Partner with local AAUW chapters to have them meet the women of your campus – they often have large scholarships they give out every year. Work with women beforehand to discuss these opportunities.

Work with the local high schools to partner with any feminist clubs or student organizations they have – this is a great opportunity for your women to give back and also a great recruiting opportunity for your campus.

Resources for You (#SAPro’s)

Now that we’ve covered how to help students, don’t forget to support yourselves and fellow staff members to make your department and campus more inclusive to women at all levels of leadership.

HERS is a great resource for women’s leadership development on campus. Work with your supervisor or create a network of women to see how you can support one representative to attend and send to the conference each year.

Think about contributing and reading the Women in Student Affairs Blog, connect and support other women specifically in the field. This audience also participates on the Twitter handle #WISAchat and hold conversations on Wednesdays for ‘WISA Wednesday’.

There are networks to connect with women nationwide too, for example, the President’s Commission on the Status of University Women – does your campus have one? If so, work with them to get more funding for strategic initiatives. If not, look to the model set out by some of these campuses:

Clemson UniversityUniversity of New HampshireCalifornia State University Long BeachOregon State University, and Northern Illinois University.

There are campuses that offer ADVANCE grants, which is a grant aimed at increasing female faculty in STEM, however most programs focus on creating more inclusive campus cultures in general. Here are a few examples we think are beneficial:

University of MichiganCornell UniversityUniversity of Texas Pan AmericanWest Virginia University, and Montana State University.

Ignite Meaningful Conversations

As women leaders on campus it’s important to identify the specific ways you can inspire and support other women on campus. The resources provided here are a starting point and are intended to help you reflect about your specific role on campus.

What are some ways you’re supporting women on campus?

How do you aim to create inclusive environments for women?

Share your ideas, resources, and programs with us @CheckImHere! We’d love to hear about the great work happening at institutions in the U.S. and globally.

About the Author

Lindsay Murdock is a kick ass woman leader in the workplace and Campus Outreach Coordinator passionate about discussing issues of diversity and social justice and how to create inclusive campus cultures for college students. You can follow her on Twitter @linds_murdock!

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Lindsay Murdock

About the author: Lindsay is a Campus Outreach Coordinator for Presence. Learn how we can help get your students involved.

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