When I heard that the Illini Secular Student Alliance group was holding a ladies-only event, my first thought was, “That sounds like a good way to get more people excited about being a part of the group.” My next thought was, “I give it about four minutes before some people cry ‘SEXISM!’…”
Sarah Kaiser interviewed ISSA’s vice president Rebecca Tippens to get the story on how to make this a successful event and whether there was any backlash from the group over it:
Did anyone in the group object to you having Ladies’ Nights? What kinds of objections were there, if any, and how did you respond? Does the group have men’s only and women’s only events, or just women’s only ones?
There were no major objections/objectors — just a few playful jabs. A very small handful of the guys in the group actually formed their own unofficial LAN party for the same evening as Ladies’ Night, but it wasn’t club-sponsored or anything. As for the possibility of “men’s only” events, we personally feel that the particular set of issues that necessitates Ladies’ Nights doesn’t really exist for the male population (of our group, at least) so a Mens’ Night wouldn’t accomplish much.
Would you recommend other groups have women’s only meetings/discussions/activities? Has it helped women feel more welcome? Have you gotten positive feedback about it?
I have yet to hear from anyone who did not enjoy our Ladies’ Nights immensely, and I simply can’t recommend them enough. Not only have they made our female members feel more welcome, but they’ve served to create lasting bonds between them and set a precedent as far as communication goes. I feel confident that all the girls are comfortable approaching myself or other ISSA ladies with any issues, and that’s what matters.
That’s exactly how it should be. The group is trying out new ways to bring get more members involved, and in this case, that means focusing on certain members for certain events. Everyone in the group seems to understand that pretty well and no one is complaining about being left out… because they’re not left out. This is just an additional activity the group is putting together to create a stronger bond between members and they’re accomplishing that goal.