CFP: Women’s & Gender Equity Book

Women’s and Gender Equity Centers Volume
Call for Chapter Proposals

It’s been nearly 15 years since Sharon Davie published the landmark volume University and College Women’s Centers: A Journey toward Equity (2002), and although the body of literature about women’s centers has grown, Davie’s remains one of the only books about women’s and gender equity centers in U.S. higher education. In the ensuing years since University and College Women’s Centers, how has the work of women’s centers shifted and expanded to include new ways of thinking, being and doing? Where do gaps still exist and what is on the horizon? The proposed volume picks up where Davie left off, and examines the new institutional contexts surrounding women’s centers, the possibilities and the challenges to advocating for gender equity in higher education, and the ways in which women’s centers contribute to and lead that work.

Organization of the Volume

The first section examines the landscape of women’s centers in higher education and explores the structures within which centers live. Who do women’s centers serve, and how? What reporting structures do centers belong to, and what resources are available to them? How have social and political forces shaped contemporary centers? Have they shifted to center the experiences or marginalized and underrepresented voices, including those of women of color and American Indian women? Lastly, this section explores the ways in which many women’s centers have expanded their work to include working with athletics, Greek life, men, transgender students, international students, student parents, veterans, etc.

The second section delves into the profession of women’s center work itself, and asks how has women’s center work become “professionalized?” What does it mean to require a Ph.D. for some center director positions? Is there a value conflict in this? What are the implications of “credentialization” for access and succession? What competencies and credentials do women’s center staff truly need in order to be effective? Is it still important to be/label oneself a feminist in order to work in a women’s center? How does intersectionality trouble the notion of “feminist” identity as a requirement for women’s center work?

The third section addresses some of the threats and challenges to women’s and gender equity centers. As centers have expanded their work to include many populations, how has resource allocation aligned with that expansion? And how does that expansion help and complicate the possibility of collaboration with other offices/departments that share a social justice agenda? How have centers engaged in cultural and climate change in the face of institutional resistance? Lastly, how has contemporary legislation and policy shifted the work of women’s centers, particularly around sexual assault and intimate partner violence education and prevention?

The fourth and final section highlights current successes and forward-thinking approaches in women’s centers. How are centers being nimble in the face of changing landscapes and shifting priorities? What creative solutions have women’s centers been able to employ? What programs could serve as exemplars for other centers to adapt to their contexts and communities? How have partnerships with not-just-the-usual suspects helped centers to transform, thrive and evolve? How are women’s centers looking toward and preparing for the future?


Brenda Bethman –

Anitra Cottledge –

Donna Bickford –

Below are directions to submit a chapter proposal for consideration:

Send a brief (1-2) page single-spaced typed document, and include all of the editors in the email. In the proposal identify: a) the potential author names, institutional affiliations, and e-mails, b) which of the four sections you see your work fitting, and c) an abstract of the chapter (300-400 words in length) outlining your proposed contribution, your connection to critical theory where appropriate, and the organization of the chapter.

This volume hopes to balance:

  • Institutional context (women’s/gender equity center at a public or private institution of higher education: technical college, community college, 4-year college/university, graduate program etc.);
  • Explorations and examinations grounded in theory and practice;
  • Roles of authors, e.g., center directors/assistant directors, program coordinators, violence prevention educators, graduate assistants, student staff, etc.); and
  • Identities of authors, e.g. racial/ethnic, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigrant or undocumented status, etc.

Please submit your proposal by 11:59 p.m., January 31, 2017. Authors will be notified of their acceptance by February 14, 2017.

Elevator Talk

One of the most interesting (or amusing or awkward, depending on my mood) things about being the director of a womens center is making small talk with strangers. Take, for example, the following exchange I had this morning in a Chicago elevator (I should note that this particular occupational hazard can be avoided by living a large Northeastern city. In New York, Philly, or Boston, there are no elevator conversations. People stare at the floor, avoiding eye contact, the way the goddess intended. I, however, live in the Midwest, and am thus forced to indulge in elevator talk with random strangers, even though it goes against my nature):

Random man staying at hotel: What’s Google Fiber? (I was returning from my morning walk and wearing my Google Fiber t-shirt. I added a link in case yall dont know either).

Me: “Super fast internet that Google is building in Kansas City.”

Random Man: “I think I heard about that. Do you work for them?”

Me: “No. A friend of mine does — she got me an invite to one of the launch events and they gave out these t-shirts.”

Random man: “What are you doing here if you live in Kansas City?”

Me: “I’m here for a conference.”

Random man: “What conference?”

(This is when it starts to get, um, interesting).

Me: “The National Sexual Assault Conference. I work in a women’s center.”

Random man (looking nervous, and then grateful for the opening doors indicating we have reached his floor): “Oh, um, good for you” (runs out of elevator, relieved to be away from me).

Fun times. Nothing shuts down idle chitchat faster than saying rape, sexual assault, or sometimes just womens center. Nothing, I tell you. Although I did once have a man tell me, in response to my telling him what I do for a living, that he is “good to his wife.” Okay, then. Glad we got that out of the way.

One other favorite response is, of course, the question about whether my campus has a men’s center. But the guy who took the cake was the “Old Ag” in Virginia who, upon learning that I worked at the Texas A&M women’s center, explained to me how A&M had been ruined (RUINED, I tell you!) by having let women in back in the 1970s. No one’s topped him yet.

[Photo Credit: Flickr User tracktwentynine, Creative Commons license]

The Reverb Broads Are Back (and They’re Sorry)

The Reverb Broads are back for the month of June and while I said I’d do it, I so far haven’t responded to any of the prompts, partly because I’m feeling lazy and partly because I’m still trying to figure out what this blog wants to be when it grows up (as I’ve written about previously). Which is fine — it’s not as if I pinky swore with Kristen and Kassie that I would respond to every single prompt on time.

Which brings me to the title of this post — we’re only three days into this project and I have already lost count of the number of times that someone participating has posted an apology or an excuse in the Facebook group. “Here’s my post — sorry it’s late — I’ve been busy doing x.” Etc., etc. And I have to say — this drives me CRAZY. Here is a group of wonderful, witty, and educated women taking time out of lives filled with work, kids, husbands, partners, family, fun and almost to a woman, they apologize if they can’t “keep up.” But keep up with what? Or whom? An arbitrary project? One that is voluntary and for fun? The other bloggers? It’s not as if we’re talking about work deadlines or saving the world here — it’s just a group of ladies blogging together. This is something that’s supposed to be fun, not anxiety-producing (well, except for Kassie’s nightmares prompt).

So, broads, do me a favor and please stop apologizing. Write when you can, if you want, and what you want — but don’t be sorry about it. As women, we apologize too much — let’s make a pact to make this project a “sorry-free” zone. Deal?

I Heart My Colleagues

November is one of the best times of the year for me — because it’s the time of the annual National Women’s Studies Association conference, taking place this year in Atlanta. The NWSA is home to the Women’s Centers Committeeand we host a daylong

This is what feminist happiness looks like.

pre-conference as part of the conference. What that means is that I spent all of yesterday (from 8 a.m. until around 11 p.m.) in the company of my fabulous colleagues from women’s centers around the country. We learned from each other, laughed, cried, celebrated our collective achievements over the past year, ate, drank, and caught up. It was an amazing day, as it always is.

Doing women’s center work is not always easy — we see a lot of awful things and can often feel as if our work isn’t making a difference (can you say pay gap?). Particularly for those of us working in “one-woman shops,” we can be isolated on our campuses (I am fortunate to have great colleagues at UMKC, but I worked in a one-woman center in Texas and remember how isolating it was) — so being to come together and spend a few days with people who “get it” is truly a gift. It’s what keeps me going throughout the rest of the year. And to anyone who still scoffs at social media, I tell you that the ability to be virtually connected between our annual meetings is also wonderful.

So, to my sisters in women’s centers — thank you for your work and your friendship. It’s an amazing community and one I am continually grateful to be part of.