Strategies Employed, Lessons Learned, and Challenges Ahead: Diversity & Inclusion

 
 
 

 

While participants in this project on Diversifying the Leadership of women’s centers were focused on their own very different institutional realities, their work – like other Council work in the area of diversity, institutional change, and leadership – shares common threads and carries some common lessons:

  • the importance of coalitions, partnerships, and alliances;
  • the need to engage leadership at all levels of an institution;
  • the power of mentorship, sponsorship, and role modeling;
  • the dual imperative to address structural barriers as well as provide individuals with necessary support and skills to advance their careers; and
  • the agency of women themselves in creating conditions where they can survive, thrive, and advance.   

"…we were faced with dilemmas about how to institute projects aimed at diversification without taxing the very individuals who constitute “diversity.”

--Center for the Study of Women in Society, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

The projects also confirm the unique positions of women’s research, policy, and advocacy centers, at the nexus of diverse issues and populations, and the role they can therefore play in addressing the knotty challenges confronting all institutions working for greater inclusion and diversity. All project participants – especially those that were small, under-resourced, and/or relatively homogeneous – emphasized the need to reach beyond their own centers, creating greater collective impact and bringing a broader range of experience, perspectives, and expertise than was represented within the center originally. 

But these projects also reflect the individual contexts of the participating centers, which represent a diversity of organizational structures, sizes, resources, constituencies, and geographic locations. The projects therefore present models for other institutions seeking greater diversity in their leadership and offer a series of activities that can be adapted to a wide range of organizations. 

The work funded by the grant allowed us to enhance our mission … to transform epistemological frameworks and social practices and in the process increase understanding about the ways that difference systematically influences all areas of life.”
-- Miami University’s Women’s Studies Program

 

2.     Strategies Employed

While each of the participating centers developed a unique series of activities to accomplish their goal of encouraging and supporting the advancement of women of color in their centers, many of the specific strategies overlapped. Those strategies included:  

1.     Undertaking a needs assessment.  

  • As part of the application process, NCRW centers conducted an informal self assessment meant to help each center identify its own specific goals. At the 2008 Annual Conference, participating member centers undertook another self-assessment survey. (See NCRW Diversity Assessment Questionnaire in Resource section)

  • The Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, SFSU conducted an assessment, designed in part by younger women of color, including interviews, focus groups, and wide disseminations of the findings. (See SFSU Interview Protocol in Resource section)
     
  • The Council also undertook an assessment of its own diversity led by then Board Chair Eleanor Horne. As part of that process, a diversity grid was created to help better understand how the Council’s own hierarchy incorporates differences.

2.     Creating and expanding the number of strategic, decision-making positions within the institution specifically to create a path to leadership for younger women of color and ultimately increase their numbers at leadership levels.

  • The Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO created an Associate Director position to be filled on a two year rotating basis by younger women of color to give them a stronger voice in the center and to provide them with leadership experience.
     
  • Miami University’s Women’s Studies Program created a new coordinator position focused on relations with the Miami tribe as well as new fellowships for African American and Latino scholars.
     
  • The Southwest Women’s Law Center determined to increase the size of its board, which was made up largely of white professional women, to include more American Indians and Chicanas.
     
  • The Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB, created two Research Fellowships for women of color, one for a senior scholar and the other more junior, in order to incorporate perspectives and approaches shaped by their racial/ethnic identities into the research agenda of the Center. The Fellows planned and implemented one of the Center’s biannual Public Research Forums.
     
  • The Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, SFSU, involved two women of color graduate students in creating, implementing, and analyzing the Center’s needs assessment, giving them visibility, experience and new understandings.
     
  • The Council hired an African American program director with specific responsibility for activities related to this grant and to oversee more broadly the Council’s efforts to increase diversity at all levels of the Council and its network.

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3.     Forming advisory boards that draw on women of color from outside their centers – from other departments within their larger institution or from other institutions – to guarantee sufficient numbers of women of color so that their voices have a collective and influential voice in all programming.

  • The Center for Gender in Organizations, Simmons School of Management, created a Steering Committee of Women of Color Affiliates that included newly appointed women of color Affiliates from outside the institution to ensure that their perspectives, experiences, and research interests were more centrally included in the Center’s work.
     
  • The Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB, created a Women of Color Committee from the larger university community to oversee recruitment, selection, and mentoring of Research Fellows – and to become an active voice in determining the overall direction and research interests of the Center. 

4.     Funding for junior women of color faculty to support their scholarly work and enhance their career opportunities. 

  • The Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO offered 10 mini-grants, as well as professionally oriented skills development workshops, to support the research of 10 women of color junior faculty from across the university.
     
  • The Women’s Studies Program at Miami awarded mini-grants to an African American and two Latino scholars that enabled them to extend their research, and make and maintain connections in the field through conferences, workshops, etc.
     
  • The Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons created a New Generation of Scholars program to provide stipends and professional support to three young, high-potential women of color engaged in significant research on gender and diversity.
     
  • The Center for the Study of Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB, funded two Research Fellowships for women of color, one for a senior scholar and the other more junior, and provided mentoring for and dissemination of their scholarly work.

5.     Creating sites and safe spaces where women of color, who tend to be isolated within their departments and institutions, can come together for mutual support and greater collective impact within their institution.

"…at the heart of leadership development for women of color junior faculty is academic success – a solid research record and ultimately tenure.”

--Center for the Study of Women in Society, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

  • The Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO, created an effective cohort of women of color by bringing together the few of them isolated in various academic departments at the university. The Center provided 10 mini-grants, workshops, and other convenings designed to support those women of color from across the institution.
     
  • The Women’s Studies Program at Miami provided mini-grants to three scholars from outside the department. These were new faculty, whom the program felt needed special support in the predominately white institution.
     
  • Five of the six women of color Affiliates at the Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons participated in a one and one-half day retreat with the goal of creating the Women of Color Steering Committee and its plan for the future. The Steering Committee determined to sponsor the retreat on an annual basis and include a Learning Circle open to all members of the community to discuss issues relevant to women of color scholars and faculty. The first Learning Circle focused on the “cultural scripts” of women of color, their impact on organizations and the advancement of women of color in them.

“…cultural scripts are an important research tool and should be used intentionally to increase and complicate the narratives of inequality.”
-- Center for Gender in Organizations, Simmons School of Management

6.     Building partnerships with outside institutions/departments/programs to increase the participation of women from underrepresented groups in the ongoing work and future direction of the organization.

  • The Southwest Women’s Law Center developed relationships with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy; the University of New Mexico’s School of Law, its Health Sciences Center and its Centro de la Raza; and with Young Women United. All of these institutions work with local Chicanas and the Chicano community.
     
  • The Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, SFSU, built a campus-wide coalition with participants from a range of disciplines, including history, ethnic studies, sexuality studies, and sociology. The College of Ethnic Studies and the Sexuality Studies department were particularly important partners with which the Center hopes to continue to develop its relationships..

Current research and curricular work in women’s studies follows what might be called the ‘silo model’ of parallel development in various separate fields, e.g. Black Women’s Studies; Chicana Studies; Native American Indian Women’s Studies.”
-- Miami University’s Women Studies Program  

7.     Supporting diversity training to enhance individuals’ sensitivities to differences and create an overall change in culture.

  • The Southwest Women’s Law Center used outside facilitators to conduct trainings with its largely white, professional board and staff before increasing the number of people of color in the organization.  

While SWLC may have hired a Latina staff member … without the grant, the impact of the hire was multiplied because the Board and existing staff were intensely engaged in exploring the challenges of diversity and what it means.”
--The Southwest Women’s Law Center
 

8.     Using outside expertise to provide mentoring, modeling, skill building, and support for women of color within institutions that have few senior women of color.

  • The Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO, invited senior women from other institutions to present workshops on significant issues in academic advancement.
     
  • The Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons addressed the underrepresentation of women of color among Affiliates based at Simmons by bringing in Affiliates from other institutions to serve on a Steering Committee of Women of Color.
     
  • At its June 2009 Annual Conference, the Council brought in Campus Women Lead, an organization that promotes women’s leadership and multiculturalism within institutions of higher education, to provide an opportunity for participants to reflect on their own attitudes toward diversity, analyze the cultural resources that are integral to effective leadership, and develop innovative strategies for building inclusive institutions.

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9.     Developing formal and informal mentoring programs for women of color.  

  • The New Generation Scholar Program at The Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons included mentoring, professional support, and publication opportunities for three young, high potential women of color engaged in significant research on gender and diversity.
     
  • The Research Fellows selected by The Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB were mentored by more senior women faculty and researchers, and they themselves mentored undergraduates.
     
  • Because there were so few senior women of color on the faculty at the University of Oregon, the Center for the Study of Women in Society engaged senior women from other institutions to mentor younger scholars of color at the university, act as role models, and provide them with skills, information and guidance necessary for academic success.

 

“In order to formulate an effective mentoring program [for women of color] …, gender/ethnic dimensions must be examined. Inaccurate assumptions may be made regarding what someone needs and does not need.”
-- NCRW Research for Action on Diversity Group meeting, June 5, 2008

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10. Hosting career-oriented skills workshops to help ensure academic success for young scholars of color.

  • The Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO sponsored workshops on writing for academic publication, developing book proposals, and on the tenure process, all meant to enhance academic success. This included a 4-day, intensive Writing and Promotion Workshop that brought scholars and experts from outside the university, offering a rare opportunity for participants to get feedback and build networks with scholars around the country.
     
  • The Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB, held skills workshops focused on research presentation skills for junior academics.

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11. Increasing the visibility for women of color and their research and policy issues in order to incorporate their interests, perspectives, and research more centrally in the field.

  • The mini grants, new leadership positions, and conferences at the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB; the Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO; The Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons; and the Women’s Studies Program at Miami all called attention to the work, and highlighted the scholarship, of faculty from underrepresented groups.
     
  • The Council created a Member Center Award for centers that have been particularly successful in addressing issues of diversity and inclusion within their own organizations and in the larger society. The Council also actively includes women of color in all its programming – including on project Advisory Committees, and as presenters and panelists at convenings – to ensure their perspectives are centrally included in our work. (I CAN’T FIND A LINK TO THE LIST OF AWARDEES ON OUR WEBSITE, ONLY NOMINATIONS??)
     
  • The Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO, created a celebratory event that brought administrators and faculty members together to recognize the significant contributions women of color faculty members make to the research profile of the university.
     
  • At The Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB, the Research Fellows planned and presented at one of the Center’s twice-a-year Public Research Forums.
     
  • The Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons committed to publish the scholarly work of its New Generation Fellows in its publication, Insights, a scholarly journal focused on the fields of gender, diversity, leadership and/or organizational change.
     
  • The needs assessment at the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, SFSU, drew attention to women of color, validated their experience, communicated to them a supportive environment, and brought to the attention of decision makers that, despite good intentions, the structures and policies needed to recruit and retain women of color were lacking

 

“All the women of color faculty [who were interviewed] described their experiences both in graduate school and as professors. In telling these stories, each interview provided a space that validated the importance of those experiences.”
--The Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, SFSU

 

12. Disseminating the outcomes, insights, new understandings, and possible future steps.

  • The Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, SFSU scheduled convenings to present the findings of their needs assessment to those in the Center as well as to others in the university. It shared the results with SFSU’s Cesar Chavez Institute which was in the initial stages of a study of satisfaction among University faculty.
     
  • The Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO, and the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB successfully engaged higher administration in the outcomes of the project and engaged them in continuing the work past the project period.

"Those working with the Fellows learned in a personal way how, even with advanced degrees, women of color still struggle for tenure, and for their research to be validated." 
--The Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB
 

 

3.     Overall Lessons Learned

Together these projects offer a rich understanding of how to develop and implement efforts to help women of color survive, thrive and advance within our institutions. What follows is a list of the specific lessons learned through these projects with links to the full project descriptions.

The success of this program is based upon … the fact that the Project Strategies were important, relevant and achievable in their design and thus attracted and retained the commitment of the CGO women of color Affiliates. They provided a concrete approach to change and concrete support to the new women of color Scholars. The strength of the specificity of the Project Strategies is, in fact, a best practice.
The Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons

1.     Embed the goals of diversity programming within the larger mission-related agenda of the institution, whenever possible. In the Council’s 2006 project exploring the impact of leadership on diversity, two universities, Duke and the University of Maryland College Park, used federal desegregation orders as an opportunity to link diversity to academic excellence and to successfully recruit outstanding African American faculty across their institutions. In this project, centers were also able to tie their projects to institution-wide goals.

a.   The President’s strategic plan at Miami University targeted greater diversity, particularly creating closer ties with the Miami Indians, a mission which spoke to this project’s goals as well as the need for greater diversity in the Women’s Studies Program there.

b.   The Southwest Women’s Law Center was at a moment of expansion and used this grant to help ensure that that expansion would increase the diversity of the organization. 

“…in order … to increase diversity effectively at their top levels, the commitment to the project must permeate throughout the Center and the University. The Initiative must be seen as …[making] valuable contributions within the Center and to the larger institution.”
--
The Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB

2.     Engage women of color themselves in planning and implementing the program for change.  

a.   The Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, SFSU, included two junior faculty of color in planning and implementing its needs assessment.

b.   At the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB, a young woman of color was selected as project director and a Women of Color Committee was established to guide the project.

c.   At the Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons, a Women of Color Steering Committee planned and oversaw the project, including the selection of the New Generation of Fellows.

“…achieving diversity is a process. The process begins by opening doors and giving underrepresented women access to these leadership opportunities.   And with appropriate support and collaboration, these women can survive, thrive, and ultimately transform their institutions.”
-- NCRW Annual Conference, June 2009

3.     Provide funding

a.   All these grants provided relatively small amounts of money, but they highlight the potential of these small grants to open doors and draw institution-wide attention to the issues – and the difficulty of continuing the work without some funding.  

b.   Four of the six participants received matching funds from their larger institutions for diversity efforts. These matching funds ensured institutional buy-in and the commitment of the campus leadership.

c.   The mini grant awards to individual scholars at the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB; The Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO; the Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons; and The Women’s Studies Program at Miami all show the effectiveness of financial support in advancing the academic careers of junior faculty.

d.   Continued funding from other sources enabled the Center for the Study of Women in Society at the University of Oregon to institutionalize their successful project for at least two additional academic years. 

The Las Mujeres grant enabled me to actively participate and engage in areas of scholarship, including conferences and research travel, that I would not have been able to undertake without this financial support.”
--Juan Carlos Albarrán, Miami University’s Women’s Studies Program

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4.     Assign specific responsibility for diversity efforts. The Council’s Director of Programming for Diversity and Inclusion helped maintain an institution-wide focus on diversity. This ensured that all Council programming was inclusive in its core, and it enabled the Council to identify new paths to encourage greater diversity over the long run, for example by instituting a new fellowship program for young women leaders, especially women of color, supported by American Express.

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5.     Draw on outside expertise and support. 

a.   The Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO, brought in senior women of color faculty from other institutions to provide the role modeling, skill building, and mentoring that was not available on its own campus.

b.   The Southwest Women’s Law Center brought in professional diversity trainers to work with the current board and staff.

c.   All 6 participating centers benefitted from regularly scheduled conference calls with the project’s Advisory Committee and NCRW’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion who advised and supported them at all stages. Sessions at the 2008 and 2009 Annual Conference provided additional access to outside expertise.

d.   The relationships formed among the participants created a supportive informal network where interchange and mutual support were available as the centers planned and implemented their project. 

6.     Engage leaders at the top of the institutional hierarchy. This is especially important in ensuring that efforts toward greater inclusion are sustained and expanded institution-wide.  

a.   The project implemented by the Women’s Studies Program at Miami was seen as a model by the entire university hierarchy from the Dean to the President. It reflected the President’s strategic goals of increasing the diversity of the campus and received support at all levels.

b.   As part of the needs assessment undertaken by the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at SFSU, interviews were held with leaders at various levels in the university. As a result, those leaders gained an explicit, informed insight into the institutional structures in hiring and mentoring processes that directly impact the success of women of color faculty, staff, and students. In addition, the Center shared its finding with other centers in the university, one of which was engaged in a campus-wide evaluation of career satisfaction, gender, and race among SFSU faculty.

c.   At the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB, the Chancellor of the University acknowledged the importance of this project to promote diversity on campus and agreed to follow it up with a Black and Brown Mentorship program for undergraduate students, drawing on the expertise of the project director of the Diversifying the Leadership project.

d.   At the Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO, the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs sent out invitations to events, facilitated a meeting on academic advancement, and publicly supported the project. One important outcome of the project was the alliance formed between the Senior Vice Provost and the cohort of junior faculty of women who had met with him in the course of the project.

“Many of the struggles and alienation women of color experience [in academic institutions] happen within the departments, and as insecure junior faculty, they need allies outside of their departments to seek advice and guidance.”
--The Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO

7.     Focus on excellence, academic success, and career advancement.  

a.   The Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO, determined that high quality research, publication, and tenure were the most important factors in ensuring the success of women of color in academe, and therefore most important in supporting their rise to leadership positions. 

“…at the heart of leadership development for women-of-color junior faculty is academic success – a solid research record and ultimately tenure.” 
--The Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO

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8.   Avoid the service track. Structure programs to ensure junior women of color are not pulled away from their basic academic work of research, publication and teaching – central to advancement and tenure decisions.

a.   The Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO, found that the overburden of service for faculty of color is a primary challenge to diversity efforts. Therefore, institutions must offer more support, such as course buy-outs, in order to give faculty of color the opportunity to participate in the effort. Creating a particular space within the Center for smaller scale projects can also provide opportunities for those with less available time. 

Women of color often view leadership opportunities as a negative, putting them in positions where they will take on more mundane work to give others more exciting opportunities.”
-- The Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, SFSU

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9.     Build partnerships and engage the larger community, whether from within the home institution or with outside groups and institutions.  

a.   The Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, SFSU, worked to break down the silos and build relationships across departments and programs to create more impactful programs as well as incorporate a broader range of voices in programming. They worked in particular with the College of Ethnic Studies and the Sexuality Studies department, both of which should have been natural allies but with whom the Center had weak working relationships. This has resulted in new partnerships and collaborations as well as closer personal networks among faculty and graduate students working in related fields. 

"…in order for other NCRW research centers to increase diversity effectively at their top levels, the commitment to the project must permeate throughout the Center and the University. The Initiative must be seen as having valuable contributions within the Center and with measurable deliverables…"

--The Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB

b.   The Southwest Women’s Law Center built coalitions with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy, the University of New Mexico’s School of Law and Health Sciences Center, and local community groups. These partnerships increased the contributions of Chicanas to SWLC’s programming and gave it access to new ways of incorporating their voices in future work.

c.   The Women’s Studies Program at Miami reached across the university departments to fill 4 new leadership positions in the center designated for underrepresented populations, thereby creating a greater voice for people from underrepresented populations to inform the work of the Program.  

d.   The Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons recruited women of color Affiliates from other institutions in the Boston area to ensure a strong pool of women of color to guide the project and contribute to their programming. 

 
 

 

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10. Recognize the complexity of diversity. All the programs found the definition of “underrepresented populations” in the project narrow and not specific to their own contexts.
a.     The Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at SFSU and the Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO both felt constrained by the fact that Asians and Asian Americans were not included in the definition even though as a population, they had experienced deep and historical discrimination in their geographic regions.

b.   The Center on Gender in Organizations at Simmons regretted not including a woman of Cuban descent in its New Generation of Scholars program since increasing the representation of Latina scholars in the field is an important goal.

c.  The Southwest Women’s Law School used formal diversity training to help its staff address the multiple identities and contexts of the local Latino population they serve, who represent among themselves a broad range of differences. 

“The training is critical to our work because of pervasive assumptions about the homogeneity of “Latino” communities in the U.S. and the resulting failure of political, advocacy and service entities to engage Latinos in their work in meaningful ways.”
-- The Southwest Women’s Law School  

 

11. Celebrate excellence inclusively. Be sure the achievements of scholars from underrepresented populations are adequately celebrated.  

a.   The Council instituted a new Member Center Award for Diversity and Inclusion specifically to recognize centers that have made an outstanding effort to expand their boards, staff, and the scope of their programming.

b.   The Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO, held an event to celebrate the specific achievements of women of color scholars at the university. 

c.   The Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons and the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB, recognized the achievements of their fellows: CGO their work in its journal Insights, and CWPPP highlighted their work in one of its bi-annual research forums. 

 
12. Disseminate the findings/insights/strategies for change beyond the active participants in order to ensure that the results are available to others doing similar or parallel work. While the people undertaking diversity work may understand the experiences of underrepresented groups and know the issues and possible solutions, many of their white colleagues and those in leadership positions may not.   

a.   Participants in the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at SFSU made oral and written reports to Center leadership and white colleagues, as well as to the larger university community, in order to help them better understand the experiences and perspectives of women of color in the center.

b.   The Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at SFSU shared the insights and results of their work with SFSU’s Cesar Chavez Institute which was in the initial stages of a study of satisfaction among University faculty.

c.   The project at the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB, informed the development of a Black and Brown Mentorship program for undergraduate students through the University’s Chancellor’s Office.

 
 

4.    LESSONS FOR CENTERS OR INSTITUTIONS THAT DO NOT INCLUDE MEANINGFUL NUMBERS OF PEOPLE FROM UNDER-REPRESENTED GROUPS

1.   Raise consciousness. Diversity training can help raise awareness of privilege among people from dominant cultures and motivate individuals to use their privilege to advance equity, inclusion, and social justice. 

a.   The Southwest Women’s Law Center brought in professional diversity facilitators to enhance the cultural competence of its primarily white, professional board and staff in anticipation of including greater diversity in the organization. 

The goal of the training was to highlight awareness of privilege and to motivate individuals to use their privilege to help "remove the bars" of the cage of oppression, … in other words, …[to] use the privilege to dismantle racism, sexism, homophobia and other systemic oppression."
-- The Southwest Women’s Law School

2.     Build strategic alliances. Alliances with outside groups can give a center access to populations and perspectives not included in its own organization. 

a.   The Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, SFSU, worked to build relationships with the College of Ethnic Studies and the Sexuality Studies department in order to include the voices of women of color and lesbian, bisexual, and trans-sexual people. 

3.     Extend your reach. Look beyond your immediate colleagues to form advisory or steering committees, or bring in outside expertise, to ensure that the voices and expertise of women of color are part of your organization’s work and future planning.  

a.   The Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB, and The Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons both created committees with some members drawn from outside their centers in order to include more women from underrepresented groups. 

b.   In order to compensate for the lack of senior faculty of color on campus, the Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO, invited leading scholars and educators of color from around the country to provide role modeling, advice, and mentoring to junior faculty of color. 

4.     Take advantage of opportunities for growth or change to build greater diversity. Use expansion efforts or vacancies to increase the representation of women of color in agenda-determining roles. 

a.   The Southwest Women’s Law Center made increased diversity central to its plans to increase the size of the board and staff, with the specific goal of increasing the number of Latinas involved in the organization. 

 

5.    LESSONS FOR CENTERS WITH LIMITED FINANCIAL RESOURCES  

1.   Look for opportunities to increase diversity as part of already funded projects. On-going or planned activities can provide opportunities to advance diversity goals without additional funding. 

a.     The Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB, and the Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons used their on-going forum series and their journal respectively to highlight the work of women of color scholars.

b.     The Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB, plans to mount a resource list of faculty of color on campus and other resources on its website, a form of publication that is minimally expensive to launch and maintain.

c.     The Southwest Women’s Law Center used this project to question all their work, from the ways the board, staff meetings, and other basic functions are structured to the development of programming. 

d.     The Council consciously implements its policy to include women of color in the planning and implementing of all its programming, and includes women of color in all advisory committees, conferences, panels, and presentations.

Feminist researchers cannot wait until later, when things seem better, to take on issues of race; they must be priorities always, integral to every step our movement takes.”
-- The Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, SFSU 

2.     Combine forces. Build alliances with institutions whose goals – and resources – can help support participation of women of color in your work. Create a win/win situation where your organization’s services meet the needs of another’s population. 

a.     The Southwest Women’s Law Center is working to create an internship program with the University of New Mexico that will give women of color in their law school and health policy program an opportunity to work in the community directly on the issues they care about.

3.     Create advisory committees through which women of color, either from within your institution or from outside, can contribute their perspectives, interests, and expertise to your center’s work and plans without adding new staffing.

a.     The Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, UMB, and the Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons both created such committees.

4.     Take advantage of outside resources. Although they do demand staff time to arrange and manage, internships, fellowships, professional development and training programs can provide resources to support participation of women from underrepresented populations in an organization and fill important roles in your organization.  

a.     The Southwest Women’s Law Center is working to create an internship program with the University of New Mexico that will give women of color in various programs at the university the opportunity to work with the Center.

b.     The National Urban Fellowship program has supported participation of a woman of color as a Fellow at the Council. 

6.     CHALLENGES Going Forward

Creating the deep and meaningful change necessary to make our institutions truly inclusive and diverse is an on-going process, not one completed with two-year projects. As this project ended, all the participating centers acknowledged the road still to be travelled as well as the accomplishments made possible through the grants.  

1.     Changing a culture of exclusion and discrimination is not easy, especially when that culture is deeply embedded, subtle, and not always apparent to those in positions of relative power. There is an imperative, therefore, in all organizations to create safe sites and situations for difficult dialogues to take place around issues of race, class and other differences.

As the proportion of people of color increases, issues around creating people-of-color-friendly spaces becomes even more urgent and the discussions grow more intense.”
-- The Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, SFSU

2.     Diversity efforts must recognize and address the power dynamics in the institution. These dynamics, especially those that dominate universities, are often in opposition to the very values that women of color bring to their work. In fact, according to the report on the project from the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, SFSU, women of color, even when they reach leadership positions, often do not wield true power. 

[We must] “recognize and address the power dynamics governing academic and research environments, which can be challenging for women of color and their allies committed to maintaining what Gloria Anzaldúa and others have described as ‘women of color consciousness’ that values relationships, leadership styles, and intellectual priorities unlike or even in opposition to those valued elsewhere in the academy.”
-
- The Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, SFSU

3.     There is no silver bullet, no one size fits all. Institutional contexts differ greatly, and therefore, the strategies employed must be adapted to the specific context. The Center for the Study of Women in Society, UO, draws from the predominately white population of the state, and therefore has different issues from the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality, SFSU, which draws from a diverse urban population.

"The remaining challenges we are facing are firmly entrenched racist and sexist structures within academia. Women of color and their allies must commit to understanding and questioning these structures in academia. Additionally, we need to hold those with structural power accountable for discriminatory and exclusionary attitudes and perspectives, whether implicit or explicit, intentional or unintended.”

--Center for Research on Gender & Sexuality, San Francisco State

 

Moreover, different populations experience exclusion differently, which means programs must be planned and implemented with the specific realities of the targeted groups in mind. For example, The Southwest Women’s Law Center found that plans targeting greater inclusion of Latinas did not serve to increase the numbers of American Indians in the center. 

Finally, addressing and representing the intersectionality of women’s identities in our work is challenged by the historic structures of our institutions. While women encompass the full range of differences in society – race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, able-ism, generation, etc. – academic institutions tend to segment those markers of identity into different programs and departments. The Women’s Studies Program at Miami, for example, found that the different ethnic studies programs remained siloed within the university, making it difficult to develop collaboration and coordination among women from different racial and ethnic groups.   

"Do we focus on what makes us different or what we share as a women’s advocacy organization?   Where does class fit into these discussions? What about intersectionality in other ways (disability, sexual orientation, etc.)   The grant was extremely successful in getting us to begin to ask the questions, though we have a long way to go to not only answer them, but to develop mechanisms for addressing them in an ongoing way.”
-- The Southwest Women’s Law Center

4.     People of color tend to carry extra burdens of service especially in academic institutions, including leading and participating in efforts to diversify their institutions. Asking them to engage in activities not necessarily related to their basic academic work can be counterproductive in terms of advancing them to leadership positions.

“We were faced with dilemmas about how to institute projects aimed at diversification without taxing the very individuals who constitute ‘diversity’.”
-- The Center for the Study of Women in Society, University of Oregon

5.     Without specific financial support, attention to inclusion and diversity can be difficult to sustain over the long-term. All six participants were challenged in institutionalizing their projects, especially given the financial crisis of fall 2008. 

Excellent path-breaking work that the administration, from the Dean to the President, saw as a model for the entire University can go unfunded during a period of unprecedented budget cutbacks.” 
-- The Women’s Studies Program at Miami  

6.     Assessing inclusion and diversity means more than counting and categorizing people. A deep understanding of an organization’s underlying values as well as its climate, institutional hierarchies, and power dynamics must figure into any assessment of how successfully it integrates a focus on inclusion and diversity into its programs, culture, and ways of working.

“…there is a temptation to “count” numbers as a measure of diversification, rather than developing a qualitative method for evaluating how we integrate diversity in our work and our leadership.”
-- Southwest Women’s Law Center