Women's Center

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is gender equity?
A. Gender equity in an educational setting means equal opportunities for involvement and learning for females and males, with open options for participation and to learn subjects and prepare for future education, jobs and careers without expectations based on gender. Equal encouragement for all to participate, develop, achieve and learn is essential equitable treatment and is required by law. Gender equity principles and equal opportunity also apply in the workplace and other arenas in society.
Q. What does the Women’s Center do?
A. The Center is a place for students, faculty, staff and community members to stop by and relax, study, meet, or just chat. We provide a space for groups to hold their weekly, biweekly, or monthly meetings, such as Feminist Action Alliance (FAA), Campus Girl Scouts, Women’s Studies Student Association (WSSA), Iota Iota Iota (Women’s Studies Honor Society), Men Endorsing Nonviolence (MEN), Western Organization for Women (WOW) Executive Board, Feminist Reading Group, University Committee on Sexual Orientation (UCOSO), Relationship Violence Awareness and Prevention Committee, Cultural Diversity Cadre (CDC), and various planning committees for our major events. We support and work closely with several student organizations, including FAA, the Organization of Adult Students for Interaction and Support (OASIS), Unity (the LGBTQ and allies organization), Campus Greens, and the Social Work Student Association (SWSA), as well as academic departments including Women’s Studies, Social Work, Political Science, and College Student Personnel. We provide resources, programs and advocacy related to the specific needs of women in such areas as health, education, employment, and finance. We offer information on a variety of topics, from domestic violence and rape awareness and prevention, to parenting, divorce, women’s health, women’s history, women in athletics, women in the arts, politics, and many other areas. We have a lending library of books, periodicals, and DVDs on diverse topics and issues concerning women. We collaborate with other departments, organizations and agencies on campus and in the community, and we make referrals to other campus and community resources. We provide outreach programming in the residence halls, sororities, classrooms, etc. We sponsor and cosponsor monthly events such as: a "REAL Women: Women as Researchers, Educators, Activists and Leaders" presentation series, "Women’s Voices Open Mic Night"; and annual events such as Women’s Equality Day in August; "Paint the Town Pink" (breast cancer awareness month), "Take Back the Night" and "National Love Your Body Day" in October; "National Girls and Women in Sports Day" and the "V-Day College Campaign" with "The Vagina Monologues" in February; "Women’s History Month," Women’s Art Exhibit, Women’s Voices Journal, "REAL Women Celebration Luncheon" and "Women of Color Seminar" in March; "The Clothesline Project," "Take Back the Campus," Equal Pay Day, and "National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day" in April. We publish a monthly newsletter, regular electronic bulletin board and Web site postings, and maintain a Web site and an email distribution list. We provide opportunities for volunteer involvement, and we provide student employment opportunities for students who are eligible for Federal Work Study.
Q. What's the difference between the Women's Center and Women's Studies?
A. The Women's Center and the Women's Studies Department have distinct, yet complementary, missions. Women's Studies is an academic department offering a major, a minor, and a post-baccalaureate certificate. The Women's Center is a department in Student Services that offers support for students, faculty, staff and community members. Both provide learning opportunities and support and advocacy for women, bring women together to build community, and place women at the center of inquiry and action. Both have a long history of working together and collaborating with other departments and organizations toward achievement of gender equity and the elimination of sexism, racism, heterosexism, classism, ageism, ableism, and other forms of discrimination and oppression on campus and in society.on).
Q. Is there a men’s center on campus?
A. The Center of the Studies of Masculinities and Men’s Development, located in Horrabin Hall 30, aims to provide quality scholarship, advocacy, and programming that positively influences college men’s development in a manner congruent with gender equity and social justice. They are a pro-feminist university-based organization focused on the critical analysis of masculinities as it applies to men and men’s development.  Their interests are both academic (research, scholarship development, conferences, etc.) and developmental (program development and implementation).
Q. Are men allowed in the Women’s Center?
A. Yes, everyone is welcome in the Women’s Center. Men, as well as women, may utilize our resources and services, attend our programs, participate in group activities and meetings, and support our efforts. We have several male staff members and volunteers, and we have a men’s outreach program for men who support and advocate women’s rights and gender equality.
Q. Why do we need a Women’s Center?
Women’s Centers serve as a focal point of women’s issues and concerns. Since the early 1970s, women’s centers have been established throughout the country--most frequently on college campuses by women students--in response to historical inequities experienced by women. They provide women with the resources and support they need to realize their potential as individuals and members of society. Since its establishment in 1986 as an out-growth of the Western Organization for Women, the WIU Women’s Center has been a vital resource for individuals and groups of women and men on campus and in the community.
Although many assumptions about women and their capabilities have been challenged and changed, and great strides have been made toward gender equity in education, business, politics and other arenas in the past three decades, we still have a long way to go. Many negative assumptions still exist in fields such as math and science, for example, despite the fact that women’s success in the sciences is expanding. While women are now approximately 56% of college students nationally (46% at WIU) and are being admitted to medical schools at roughly the same rate as men, women still lag far behind men in traditionally male-dominated majors and career fields, and women are not graduating with majors such as computer science and from medical schools at anywhere near the same rates as men. At WIU, similar to nationally, only 31% of full professors are women. Only 23% of college presidents and 12 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Although women have made significant gains in intercollegiate athletics, women are still only about 42% of college athletes, and women coaching women’s teams has dropped from more than 90% in 1972 to less than 43% in 2008, while women are only 21% of athletic administrators. Only two women have ever been U.S. Supreme Court Justices; the U.S. ranks 70th in the world in terms of female political representation – women are only 74 of 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, 16 of the 100 U.S. Senators, and 16% of state governors. Clearly, these numbers do not reflect that women are nearly 52% of the U.S. population. Although the U.S. government insists that countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan must include women’s rights in their new constitutions, we still do not have an Equal Rights Amendment in our own Constitution. And pay equity is still nowhere in sight, with white women averaging 77 cents, African American women 63 cents, and Hispanic women 52 cents on the dollar that white men make. According to AAUW’s 2007 report, Behind the Pay Gap, just one year out of college women working full time already earn less than their male colleagues earn, even when they have the same major and occupation. Ten years after graduation, the pay gap widens. According to the Bureau of Justice and the CDC, 20% of college women report having been raped prior to or since coming to college and young women between 16 and 24 in dating relationships experience the highest rate of domestic violence and sexual assault.

The Women’s Center can help make sure gender inequities, disparities between women and men, and violence against women are addressed, reduced, and eliminated.