Ryan Chartrand

Women’s Programs and Services hopes to attract a diverse group of female students from a variety of majors to create the Women’s Leadership Council, an organization which will advocate women on campus by planning a yearly spring leadership conference as well as monthly seminars targeting the career and personal development of women on campus.

Seminars will include career panels, speakers, networking activities and workshops such as basic car maintenance, said Elizabeth Lucas, leadership coordinator for Women’s Programs and Services and forestry ad natural resources senior.

The council will provide “lessons outside of the classroom that help women be successful in the real world,” said Devon Hodgson, coordinator for Women’s Programs and Services.

Recruitment for the Women’s Leadership Council has been largely focused on students from STEM colleges (science, technology, engineering and math) because those fields are largely male dominated, Lucas said.

Lucas stressed that the purpose of the council is not to rebut gender discrimination, but to provide female students with a place to communicate with other women who have shared similar experiences.

“It offers women a way to have a voice in a community they belong to,” she said.

For many female students, it can also be “harder to access the unique information that women need,” such as how to dress for an interview, Lucas said.

The Women’s Leadership Council will rely on student input and involvement to provide Cal Poly women in different fields with that “unique information.”

Both Hodgson and Lucas stressed the importance of involving a diverse group of women from assorted majors in the council.

“Women’s Programs may not have its finger on the pulse of what’s going on in different colleges,” Lucas said.

Hodgson emphasized the importance of understanding one’s identity, which gender is just a single part of. Being young, in college, a woman, a woman of color, a night person, a day person, or an athletic woman are all pieces that have to do with a person’s identity, he said. Women who are “just trying to get by in a male-dominated field are often not stopping to look at their development as a woman.”

Hodgson views the Women’s Leadership Council as an opportunity to reach out to an assortment of people, from “women that have never been involved with anything about their gender” to community members and men.

The organization will also be an opportunity for women to put into practice the leadership and managing skills they have learned in the classroom.

Cal Poly currently offers only one leadership opportunity to women across all majors: Panhellenic, Hodgson said.

Panhellenic is a national leadership board available to sorority members, but “not every woman wants to be in the greek system,” Hodgson said. Sorority and non-sorority members alike are encouraged to apply for the Women’s Leadership Council.

The council is looking for women with “the mentality that they have a lot to offer, but they have a lot to learn,” Hodgson said. Applicants need to be open about their own development as a woman, be open to creation, have a strong commitment and be able to multitask.

If students want to be involved with Women’s Programs and Services in other ways, there are internship and senior project opportunities available which often lead to paid positions, Hodgson said. Information can be found at the Women’s Programs and Services office in the University Union, room 217, and at www.womensprograms.calpoly.edu.

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