When the Women & Gender Collaborative made its call for 2016 grant proposals, it was seeking innovative projects that promised to create long-term change and help make Colorado State University the best place for women to work and learn. The campus community responded with passion and commitment, submitting 22 applications around an array of inspiring ideas.
A committee selected five proposals to receive funding but the pool was so outstanding, narrowing it down was not an easy task. “What came through in the nearly two dozen submissions from faculty and staff were robustly developed and thoughtful projects designed for impact,” said Cori Wong, director of the Collaborative.
The funded projects
Thanks to the generous gift of an anonymous donor, the Collaborative will fund the five projects listed below through 2018, and provide assistance in the projects’ development. The two-year time frame will enable projects to achieve proof of concept and acquire sufficient evidence of impact for potential future funding opportunities. To build sustainability and show institutional support, each project was required to partner with at least one sponsoring campus unit.
Women in Science Career Issues
This project is dedicated to expanding a community across campus that provides support, mentoring and insight around gender equity in science. Since 2013, a small community of faculty and graduate students has been meeting to discuss gender bias in science careers. The grant will enable that core group to spin-off new satellite groups. In addition to providing an honest and supportive environment that fosters an atmosphere of confidentiality and trust, the groups will work to promote career advancement in the sciences.
The idea for the core group was sparked by a conversation between Candace Mathiason, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, and Danielle Adney, a student in veterinary medicine, while they were traveling back to Colorado from an academic conference. Adney asked Mathiason how she progressed in her career, what obstacles she faced as a woman and what advice she could offer.
“As the conversation evolved, we decided we should form a group to facilitate insight in how gender differences are viewed by both men and women employed in the sciences,” said Mathiason. “It provided opportunities not only to educate men about how women view issues unique to them, but also to gain insight from a male perspective.”
Mathiason said she, Adney and Sue VandeWoude, professor of comparative medicine and associate dean for research in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, then began to reach out to a cross-section of women and men: everyone from graduate students to a University Distinguished Professor, and those at various stages of their careers.
“Everyone has benefitted from the others in the group,” said Mathiason. “We’ve all learned something about how the other gender speaks, how to negotiate career advancement, how to enhance your own career and how to project that to others in their department or community as a whole.”
For more information, contact Candace Mathiason at 491-3975 or email Candace.Mathiason@ColoState.edu.
HERS at CSU Women’s Leadership Workshops
Drawing on over 40 years of experience with women’s leadership development, Higher Education Resource Services (HERS) is partnering with CSU to offer this new program for CSU women employees. Each year, the project will provide foundational leadership and professional planning skills for 36 early-career women at CSU. HERS at CSU will launch a pilot program in the spring with workshops in February, March, and April. The activities will include working with a mentor to design and implement a project on campus.
For more information, contact Maricela DeMirjyn at 491-1685 or email Maricela.Demirjyn@ColoState.edu.
Women Reading @ CSU
Women Reading @ CSU builds upon the success of a 2014 grant recipient – Women’s Leadership Book Club – with a renewed focus on appreciating women’s differences, intersectional identities, and diverse experiences. Every six weeks, participants discuss selected books in small groups with other women employees at CSU. To support access and participation, books are available through the CSU Bookstore at a reduced price. This project also highlights the work of local women entrepreneurs who provide raffle items to give away at each book club meeting. The next meeting will be held on Thursday, Dec. 15, noon-1 p.m., Lory Student Center, Room 382. The book: Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation, by Eli Clare.
For more information, email Lindsay Mason at Lindsay.Mason@ColoState.edu.
Man: Educate Yourself
This project engages campus administrators, managers, and supervisors in conversations, introspection, and appropriate action to assume a large measure of men’s responsibility for creating learning and working environments that allow everyone to succeed. This necessitates open and honest conversations about how men enter and hold spaces of power and influence in meetings, classrooms, work groups, and leadership positions. It also requires responsibility for speech, behaviors, attitudes, and decisions that affect the overall campus climate.
“The goal is to create change by engaging men in conversations about what we bring to the spaces where we work, and how that impacts the women with whom we work and engage,” said Oscar Felix, associate vice president for diversity.
The first cohort will begin spring 2017. For more information, contact Oscar Felix at (970) 491-6473 or email Oscar.Felix@ColoState.edu.
Women Veteran Yoga Project
By offering free yoga classes to women veteran students at CSU through the New Start for Student Veterans Program, this project provides opportunities to develop community, enhance health and wellness, and share resources among women veteran students. Yoga classes are offered weekly and are tailored to address the specific needs of women veteran students.
“Research on women veteran populations has found that women tend to be less likely to participate in veteran programs on college campuses,” said Erica Schelly Billingsley, a student veteran coordinator with the New Start Program. “There is a need for specific programs to target women which is why we decided to pilot the yoga project. It’s been a success and the Collaborative grant will help us continue to offer classes as a resource.”
Yoga is known to be a good stress management tool and can help veterans through various stages of physical and emotional recovery. But Billingsley said they are seeing another very powerful, yet unanticipated impact. “One of the coolest things we have observed is a significant social benefit to student veterans who participate. The women veterans in the class have become very good friends,” said Billingsley. “They are sharing insights about their post-military journey as students, and are encouraging each other to engage in other veteran programs on campus.”
The project is in support of the Women’s Veteran Initiative through the Adult Learner and Veteran Services office at CSU.
For more information about the Women Veteran Yoga Project, call Erica Schelly Billingsley at 491-5809 or email Erica.Schelly@ColoState.edu.
Other projects move forward
Several proposals deemed not a good fit for a Collaborative grant nevertheless made such a positive impression on the committee, it offered to connect those applicants with other campus units for alternative institutional support.
“For example, one was a proposal to create a hiring pipeline for women in the trades at CSU,” said Wong. “It’s important and highly inventive, but the scope was too big for the intent of the Collaborative grant.”
Another was a proposal by CSU Online to build a free online professional development program for CSU women employees that would have exceeded the grant program’s available resources. The Collaborative is now partnering with CSU Online to design a program to launch this summer.
The Collaborative wants to hear from you
The Collaborative invites you to share what you, your department, unit or group is doing to improve the campus culture and climate around gender for faculty, staff and students. Email Cori Wong at Cori.Wong@ColoState.edu. To find out about other efforts on campus, go to What Others Are Doing. You also can follow the Collaborative on Facebook.