Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Shining the Spotlight on Gender Equity at UW

Diana Parry, Associate Professor and Special Advisor to the President on Women's and Gender Issues at UW

Professor Diana Parry, Special Advisor to the President on Women's and Gender Issues at UW
Credit: Mathew McCarthy, Record staff
Thank you to FAUW for inviting me to write a guest blog post about my new position as Special Advisor to the President on Women's and Gender Issues at UW, which I started in July. The ultimate goal of my work is to engage our campus community to move gender equity forward for the benefit of everyone. In this post, I tell you a little bit about me and my research by way of answering a couple of questions: Why have I been asked to take on this role? And, what do I hope to do while in this position? I also want to provide you with more information about how you can take part in the process and have your voice heard.


Why have I been asked to take on this role?

I have been a faculty member at UW for ten years now and am currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies. My research explores the personal and political links between women's leisure and health, broadly defined. Using a feminist lens, my research privileges women's standpoints and aims to advance social justice by challenging the medical model of scholarship. In addition to my research focus, I am an active member of the university community, previously as the chair of FAUW’s Status of Women and Equity Committee (SWEC), and currently as a member of the Women’s Studies Board at UW, a member of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations’ Status of Women Committee and a contributor to Senate at UW. Taken together, my research and committee experiences place me in a good position to advance the goals of my current position.

What do I hope to achieve while in this role?

The mandate of the position calls on me to work collaboratively with senior administrators, faculty, and the new Director of Equity to advise on policy and structural level gender equity issues, which will help shape the development of a long-range plan for the university with clear and actionable goals. The purpose of the long-range plan is to foster a supportive and nurturing university environment in which female faculty can maximize their career opportunities.

To make these recommendations "actionable", the faculty of the university at large must be involved in shaping the plan and strategies that follow. To this end, I have begun two initiatives. First, I am developing a case that considers why diversity matters at UW. The case aims to act as a catalyst that sparks conversations about gender equity issues on campus and promotes the development of strategies to address these issues. Second, I am creating a Women’s and Gender Issues Advisory Council, a group of various stakeholders (students, staff, and faculty) across campus committed to addressing gender equity issues that will provide input and guidance in the development of the long-range plan.

Finally, to keep the campus community informed, I have begun work on a communications strategy to disseminate information and knowledge gained as I move forward in my role as Special Advisor. To build this knowledge base, I am reaching out to stakeholders across campus to collect their questions, concerns, thoughts, and ideas related to gender issues on campus. If you have something to share, please get in touch with me. I can be reached by phone at 519-888-4567 ext. 33468, email at dcparry@uwaterloo.ca, or if you prefer, drop by my office to chat (BMH 2114). I would love to hear from you. Working together, we can shine the spotlight on gender issues at UW and enact change to better our campus community for all faculty members.

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