The UW Women’s Center is a vital place where women and men partner to build a culture of gender equity campus-wide, locally, and globally. We provide educational programs, individualized services, skills training, research and community outreach. At the Women’s Center women and girls are inspired to become lifelong learners and leaders, and to reach for the stars.
Recognized as one of the first and largest university women’s centers in the nation, Cunningham Hall was the first building built for women in the State of Washington, as part of the 1909 Alaska Yukon-Pacific-Exhibition. This year, in conjunction with the “Centennial Celebration of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition,” the Women’s Center will celebrate “100 Years of Success,” at our annual dinner.
The Center serves women and men through lifelong learning classes, workshops and lectures; advising, counseling and support groups for students, women of all ages, and survivors of domestic violence and allies; scholarships, financial aid information and access to a library and computer lab. It is a golden bridge between the university and the community.
I have seen the Women’s Center grow immensely over the years, since our historic building was reclaimed in the 1980s.
We continue to assist returning students through our Re-Entry Program. This program provides personalized counseling and support to individuals considering a return to college after significant time away. Each year, we help hundreds of people succeed in achieving their graduate and undergraduate educational goals by providing appropriate services.
Our Making Connections Program continues guiding and mentoring young women of color and first generation college bound students in applying and preparing to attend college (often as the first member of their family to do so), as well as learning about work in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The program’s success rate has continued to grow. Each year over 80% of our Making Connections Program graduates went onto college, far exceeding the national average of 60% for high schools students.
In addition to these programs, the Women’s Center continues to work diligently to educate the UW campus and larger community through our Gender and Equality Program. We are establishing a centralized violence prevention resource center in our library and planning events for the coming year to educate students, faculty, staff, and community members regarding various aspects of relationship and family violence and the ways in which we can come together in our communities to prevent violence.
The Women’s Center’s work on human trafficking research and policy development also continues to grow as we embark on a groundbreaking human trafficking research project in King and Pierce Counties. Our research is exploring the nature and scope of human trafficking in our local community, as well as identifying promising practices for serving victims of trafficking. We also continue to educate the UW campus and larger community on human trafficking issues through lectures, forums, and upcoming publications as many of our students are survivors of, or impacted by, human trafficking.
The Women’s Center also continues to partner with various academic departments, other units on campus, and student groups, to bring exciting events and speakers to the UW campus to educate students, staff, and faculty about issues related to gender, social justice, and human rights. We also serve the campus and community through information and referral – acting as a safe space for individuals and groups to share and seek information on a variety of issues, ranging from eating disorders and domestic violence, to academic success and leadership.
The Women’s Center connects the UW campus and the larger community (both local and global) through our various programs and services. We believe that education is the ultimate equalizer and path to personal empowerment, and as a result we foster educational programs designed to eliminate the specific barriers that keep people from realizing their educational and life aspirations. Education is not merely about earning a degree; it is about shaping a whole person.
Executive Director, UW Women’s Center
Affiliate Asst. Professor, Women Studies