Women & Gender Collaborative hosts first-ever ‘CSU Gender Summit’ March 11-12

Story by Jeff Dodge and Drew Smith

For the first time, representatives of nearly all of Colorado State University’s major employee-based programs and groups working on gender issues gathered in the same place at the same time to share what they are doing and forge new connections.

It was all part of the inaugural CSU Gender Summit, held March 11-12 in the Lory Student Center, where members of more than 50 organizations participated.

The summit opened with a coffee break hosted by the Feminist Fight Club, followed by a “Recognitions & Summit Showcase,” where a representative from each group got about 30 seconds to share an informational slide outlining their primary purpose and highlight recent accomplishments.

More inclusive, equitable

“We’re all in this together,” Cori Wong, assistant vice president for gender equity and director of the Women & Gender Collaborative, told the audience as she kicked off the event March 11. “We’ve been charged to improve our culture to be more inclusive and equitable. To change the culture, we have to do things differently, so we wanted to start by acknowledging the work you all are doing.”

Wong also noted that each representative is part of a group, making the point that there are even more people actively supporting the culture change effort.

From the Dependent Care Committee to the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising to the Women in Science Network, attendees spent the first 90 minutes of the summit learning about and celebrating what others have recently accomplished.

Gender Summit attendee Bob Schur
Bob Schur discusses gender-related work in the University Operations office.

That session was followed by a “Healing and Repair Workshop” featuring story-sharing and personal reflection. Then, on March 12, the day began with three plenary sessions that highlighted priority issues for gender equity efforts: “Intersectionality and Supporting Women of Color,” “Gender Inclusion for the Trans & Non-Binary Community” and “Things to Know About Title IX.”

‘Collaborative Conversations’

The Gender Summit concluded with “Collaborative Conversations,” where facilitators from CSU’s Center for Public Deliberation in the Department of Communication Studies led participants in a discussion on potential connections, challenges and gaps in how the campus is addressing gender equity and inclusion.

Participants broke into smaller groups and discussed which values they believe inform their gender equity work, and how that actually shows up on campus through the various efforts and the ways people are connecting with each other.

“I think it has been important and encouraging for people to see how much is happening across campus and how many people are dedicating their time and energy to help shift our institution in a positive direction,” Wong said.

Participants completed surveys and submitted responses about their gender-related efforts in preparation for the Collaborative Conversations session. The data demonstrate how these groups self-report their budgets, scope of impact and connections to other related groups, which will be analyzed to inform future efforts from the Women & Gender Collaborative to further support campus-wide involvement.

“Some people might hear there is a lot happening on campus related to gender but not see it, or they may believe there isn’t much happening at all, but fortunately, our community has a lot of energy behind gender equity,” Wong said. “One goal of the CSU Gender Summit was to bring people together so we can continue developing different interventions, and do so as a more unified force with shared goals that move us in the same direction.”