We are just back from a successful NASPA 12 conference, and have had many positive interactions with amazing women in our field. WISA continues to be an outstanding knowledge community, and one that truly reflects and engages the membership. However, one thing is for certain – the power of WISA is its members. These women are committed to discovering, exhibiting and celebrating the best versions of themselves.
Nowhere was this more clear than at the WISA business meeting. Celebrating award recipients, discussing accomplishments, and providing an overview of our goals and mission – it was clear that we have accomplished much. But we have more to do.
To that end, our leaders – Sherry Mallory and Suzanne Onorato, devised a discussion activity. A room full of almost 100 women broke into small groups. During these discussions we asked, “What were the most pressing issues facing women in our respective NASPA regions?” and “What resources do women in NASPA need?” It’s no surprise that we continue to hear issues such as mentoring, sponsorship, work-life negotiation, negotiation skills in general, career advancement, and intersections of identity all come to the surface. These are issues that have been and will continue to be at the focus of the work of WISA in the coming year.
It would be easy to get discouraged about these issues – after all, we hear about them every day (and let’s face it – we live it). However, we’d like to share a story. At our table of primarily graduate students, a WISA woman commented about how people shy away from claiming the term “feminist”. Others shared that owning their feminism actually empowered them to embrace their own identity more fully, and spurred them to activism. After a short discussion, this prompted Ann Marie to tweet “I AM A Feminist. Anyone feel me on this?”
The response was incredible. So many women – at our table, in the WISA business meeting, at the conference and back at home responded and enthusiastically retweeted her twitterfesto; in turn declaring their status as a person who stands for equality and nothing less.
Our favorite response from this tweet came from one of our allies (Chris Conzen, @clconzen) who stated “As a husband, father, son, brother-I have to be a feminist-I owe it to them and me.”
Thank you for a successful WISA experience at NASPA 2012 – now let’s see where we can go together. The power of WISA is in its members – and in our members – we know we will succeed.
Julie & Ann Marie, Co-Chairs-Elect for the Women in Student Affairs (WISA) Knowledge Community