Growing Into Ourselves (Winter 2017)

With arrival of a new year and a new semester, and so many transitions that have come to pass in the month of January, one theme is top of mind for me regarding the work associated with the Women & Gender Collaborative: Growth.

Yes, even in the middle of winter.

We grow in projects and programs. 

When it comes to most plants, a significant amount of growth initially happens out of sight, underground. In a similar vein, the Women & Gender Collaborative has been steadily rooting down and working to solidify a strong foundation for other visible, more apparent forms of expansion and growth. Part of our root system has consisted in expanding our base for communication via our Facebook page and increasing engagement with our website. Awareness of the Collaborative is also growing thanks to coverage we’ve received through SOURCE stories about our grant-funded projects.

Finally, our roots have also gotten stronger thanks to a significant amount of planning, coordination, and program development, in close collaboration with other campus units, including External Relations, CSU Online, and community entities. All of those efforts reflect the Collaborative’s emphasis on education and engagement, and many of them are slated to materialize throughout the year.

We grow in numbers. 

Meanwhile, growth is also apparent by the sheer number of people getting involved and engaged with gender-related issues. For example, the amount of people participating in the grant-funded projects will dramatically increase this semester. In January, the Man: Educate Yourself project launched with its first cohort of sixteen men from across campus. Five facilitators will guide them through a semester-long process of reflection and dialogue about men’s roles and responsibility in shaping the culture and climate at CSU around gender.

In February, the HERS at CSU Women’s Leadership Workshops will offer personal and professional growth and development to its first cohort of thirty-six early-career women. Participation in the Women Veterans’ Yoga Program, Women Reading at CSU Book Club, and the Women in Science Career Issues groups is also expected to expand thanks to their ongoing programs through the spring.

Thus far, I’ve only been highlighting growing participation in the grant-funded projects through the Collaborative. What’s even more encouraging is that there are increasingly more ways to get involved as more and more people create and sponsor their own programs across campus to support women and gender equity. To see what others are doing and just how many things are coming up, check out our list of related programs and events.

Leadership is blossoming across campus. 

I’ve continued to be deeply impressed by the initiative and commitment evidenced by individuals and campus units to contribute to the overall effort to improve our campus culture. In a matter of weeks, we created a Feminist Fight Club at CSU, which is focused on creating space for CSU employees who are committed to supporting one another, primarily by learning how to identify and respond to sexist and bias-driven behavior in the workplace.

That sort of momentum doesn’t just emerge from a group of passive participants; this has become a thrilling opportunity for deeper engagement precisely because so many members of the FFC at CSU are stepping up, as leaders, to support one another in our shared successes.

This is what we need – people who identify specific issues and then utilize their particular experiences, connections, and resources to address those issues in effective and creative ways. It’s happening in colleges, departments, offices, and campus centers.

My hope is that the same spirit will become so embedded in our culture that it will also permeate how we work and learn on a smaller scale – in classrooms, committees, and everyday interactions with peers and colleagues.

When working for cultural change, it’s very helpful to have support the from the top levels of an institution like we do at CSU. However, it’s at a grassroots level where you can really see it start to take hold and gain momentum. It may seem like a slow process to get there, but the growth has been happening, and I suspect we will all continue to grow. This is what excites me for 2017.

Here’s to realizing the fruits of our labor, now and in the months and years to come!