As groups of women — and some men — made their way into the Hetzel-Hoellein Room in the Stewart Library, Nailah Mansa and Alex Dutro-Maeda of the WSU Women’s Center greeted guests for the second Feminism for All.
Mansa, Dutro-Maeda and the Women’s Center staff provided guests with food, music, laughs and a space to discuss the importance of feminism in the academic and professional world.
Feminism for All, held on Nov. 20, featured professionals from various local businesses, organizations and institutions.
Professionals included Weber State’s Dr. Jennifer Kokai of the Department of Performing Arts and Dr. Wendy Fox-Kirk, the department chair for Business Administration and Marketing. Dr. Brenda Burrell — the former curriculum coordinator for the State of Utah — and Viviana Felix — the diversity affairs officer for the City of Ogden — attended to share their insights as well.
The Women’s Center staff invited attendees to sit and mingle with the professionals. The room filled with the chatter of the professionals and students getting to know each other.
Mansa set about the task of running from table to table, making sure people were talking and enjoying their time together, periodically taking some time to catch her breath and take a few bites of food. For Mansa, who has dedicated academic time and research to exploring feminism in professional settings, this event was part of a continuous effort to promote feminist leadership.
“Intersectionality creates unique experiences for women in business,” Mansa said. “We want these professionals to share the experiences they have had to guide and inspire the students who attend.”
According to a presentation by Dutro-Maeda, the term “feminist leadership” does not have one specific definition, but follows a set of guiding principles. These principles work towards the ultimate goal of social, cultural and political transformation that works for the realization of equality and human rights for all.
Some of these principles include flattening hierarchy/sharing power, relationship-building, creating space and opportunities, transparency, critical thinking and accountability and valuing soft skills.
In Dutro-Maeda’s presentation, WSU Associate Professor of Dance, Joseph Blake, summarized his definition of feminism.
“Feminism is true equality,” Blake wrote. “It is recognizing that all people, no matter race, gender, sexuality, cultural upbringing and/or religious belief, bring something to the table.”
Attendees mirrored Blake’s ideas as the students and professionals represented a wide variety of races, genders and fields of study. Mansa hopes that even more people will attend future Women’s Center events, even if they do not consider themselves feminists.
“If you are at all interested in social justice and equality, come out and experience these events for yourself,” Mansa said. “Come with an open mind and see past the stereotypes.”