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Our Framework & Goals

Framework to Advance Gender Equity and Inclusion at Northwestern

The Women's Center at Northwestern is engaged in five interconnected work areas that advance gender equity and inclusion at Northwestern University.

Leadership

The women’s center is grounded by a Feminist leadership perspective (Tracy Barton) that suggests the elements particular to a feminist leadership orientation include a focus on interpersonal, institutional, and society level social justice concerns, a desire to bring marginalized voices to the center of the conversation, and a willingness to take risks as one strives to enact a transformational agenda. With this orientation in mind, the women’s center will continue to offer its expertise and serve as consultants to campus initiatives and policies to ensure campus women’s and other underrepresented groups’ experiences and well-being are at the center of the university’s priorities.

Support and Advocacy

Additionally, the women’s center remains a location on campus that offers a welcoming, safe and affirming environment to access campus and community-based resources and referrals for the Northwestern University community. The Women’s Center is often one of the campus’ first responders and can then take what is heard and observed, note patterns and issues that require institutional attention, and advocate for policies, procedures and practices that would signal to women and other marginalized groups that they are indeed heard and valued here at Northwestern. The center continues to offer ongoing supports—from mentoring to coaching to supporting everyone who comes through our doors, though it is especially committed to supporting women and other gender & sexual minorities, particularly those that face compounding forms of marginalization and inequity. While the center no longer offer individual counseling services, it works closely with CAPS and others to assure women, LGBTQ & the people of color who most often visit the women’s center for support are cared for.

Coalitions and Collaboration

Though the center has been building coalitions and collaborating since its founding, a large part of the new director’s future work will also encompass strengthening current and building new alliances, and promoting collaboration with campus partners to foster a shared commitment to gender equity to more effectively serve and support women and other gender minorities at Northwestern.

Programming and Education

The center will continue to engage the Northwestern community through programming, on contemporary and historical feminist, gender, and social justice issues.

Community and Connection

The center will continue to build community and connection. The everyday conversations that are intertwined with pain and joy that emerge at the kitchen table have always built capacity and are the spaces where feminist theory & action are first articulated. Through community and connection, we build each other up and affirm each other as we perform sometimes challenging and invisibilized work.

Our Overarching Goals

In support of this mission, the Women’s Center is committed to the following overarching goals:

  • To advance social justice through raising awareness, increasing knowledge, and building capacity.
  • To build alliances, promote collaboration, and foster a shared commitment to effectively serve and support women, trans and non-binary people at Northwestern.
  • To engage our community through educational programming, support services, and advocacy around issues impacting women and other marginalized groups
  • To educate the Northwestern community on contemporary and historical feminist and gender issues.
  • To serve as a feminist space that cultivates and activates skills which foster personal and institutional change and advance equity and inclusion.

Integrating Learning and Experience

Furthermore, we believe that the Women’s Center has a unique opportunity to Integrate Learning and Experience as we serve students, staff and faculty and foster an awareness and appreciation of the intersections of identity that are part and parcel of our complex global existence. 

We are a hub of knowledge and expertise around gender equity.  We strive to continue to be the site where individuals, units and departments consult around issues of gender equity, and present programming that identifies, frames, and addresses the myriad of social issues to build capacity within the campus community to advance gender equity and social justice.

We strive to foster an environment in which gender identities and expressions are embraced not relegated as insignificant and dismissed nor given undue social advantage and power. 

We believe that centering the experiences of women, particularly underrepresented women, and other marginalized people in the university’s work will improve the Northwestern University environment for everyone. We work to collaborate and build coalitions with those who are champions of gender equity to help us transform our community.

We are focused on building students’ capacity as feminist and social justice change agents by deepening our student engagement. 

We provide Third Spaces and have a wealth of resources and offer a welcoming, safe and affirming environment to the Northwestern University community.