We promote and advocate for gender equity on campus and in the community. We facilitate opportunities for learning and academic excellence to support and empower all individuals in building an inclusive and compassionate society.
Who We Serve
While our primary focus is women identifying students at Logan Campus, our program also strives to expand who we are and who we serve. Much like queer communities have adapted the plus to signify that there are a host of other ways you can identify and still belong; we acknowledge this as a central part of our work. The plus also stands for the intersections of our identities and how they can shift and interact with each other. We serve marginalized groups in gender and sexuality spaces and therefore acknowledge that race, class, disability, religion, body size, and many other aspects of our identities add so much more to our experiences of the world.
Starting with the first women’s club on campus in 1899, supporting women and gender equity efforts have a long history at USU. The first official Women’s Center for Lifelong Learning was established in 1974, when Dean Helen Lundstrom became the Inaugural Director, and it became the foundation of programming at USU to support women in academia.
A year after the Women’s Center opened, the Women’s Studies program was founded, chaired by Lynne Goodhart in 1975 and Alison Thorne in 1976. Prior to this, Women’s Studies courses at USU were taught—without pay—by a team of dedicated faculty. Ten years later, the Women & Gender Research Institute (WGRI) was founded to encourage research on women and gender and to support the recruitment, retention and advancement of women researchers, and in 2001, the Women’s Leadership Institute was founded by Janet Osborne to promote leadership skills among USU’s women students.
These efforts ultimately brought all USU’s women and gender programs together in 2010, as the Center for Women & Gender, directed by Ann Austin until a significant development in gender programming came in 2019 when the Center for Women & Gender became the Center for Intersectional Gender Studies & Research (CIGSR) moving into CHaSS to become the hub of academic programming.
Student engagement and services were moved into the Inclusion Center under Sarah Timmerman as the Women and Gender Equity Program with an expanded focus on programming that explored the intersection of gender with other aspects of identity, including race, class, sexual orientation, religion, health, and other identity markers.
Explore more of the rich history of women and gender equity at USU
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Why Gender Equity?
Gender equality is giving all genders equal treatment when it comes to rights, responsibilities, and opportunities. Gender equity, meanwhile, is about fairness. To ensure everyone has equal opportunities, we need to consider privilege, bias and other parameters that can limit how people access opportunities.
National and statewide studies continue to show that women and girls in Utah are not thriving in critical areas. Year after year, Utah continues to have high levels of domestic violence, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, and gender-based discrimination, while also ranking as the worst state for women’s equality and having low levels of women’s leadership representation in nearly all domains, including politics and business.
Our programs focus on addressing these issues of gender inequity for students at USU. We strongly believe that by empowering and supporting women identified students, ALL students will benefit and thrive academically, personally, and professionally.
Coined in 1989 by professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, the term intersectionality helped highlight the ways in which people are often disadvantaged by multiple sources of oppression. It is a framework that helps us understand how social relations involve multiple intersecting forms of discrimination. This means that a person might experience several forms of discrimination, such as sexism, racism, and ableism, all at the same time.
Every person has multiple, intersectional identities. For some women, their intersectional identity may provide a degree of privilege, but for others, it may result in more discrimination. Some women are at higher risk of different types of discrimination, such as racism, class oppression, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, or ableism.
If we fail to consider intersectionality, our efforts to promote gender equality might be limited in their impact and could even worsen the situation for some of the most disadvantaged women.
As feminist icon and self-described ‘black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,’ Audre Lorde said: ‘I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.’
Join a club, honor society, or an email list to stay connected and involved.
The Women and Gender Issues Society (W.A.G.I.S.) is the Women and Gender Program's student club at Utah State University. They are involved in women's rights and gender issues on the student level. If you are interested in finding out more about the club events, or getting involved, send them an email or stop by one of our meetings!
Women's Student Leadership Clubs on Campus
Looking for support and community within your academic program or area? Check out on of these additional clubs supporting gender equity on campus!
Areas of Focus
Here in the Women and Gender Equity Program we believe that all bodies are worthy and that all bodies deserve respect. Period. We define body liberation as the freedom from social and political systems of oppression that designate certain bodies as more worthy, healthy, and desirable than others. We do not believe that bodies that are white, able-bodied, cisgender, thin, or fit are superior, worthier, or inherently healthier than any other bodies. Forms of bias and prejudice that impact health and wellbeing can be structural, systemic, interpersonal, and internalized. Here are some examples:
- Ableism: discrimination and prejudice against people with disabilities that favors people who are able-bodied.
- Fatphobia: discrimination and prejudice against people who are fat, overweight, and obese.
- Healthism: discrimination and prejudice against people who do not prioritize health and fitness above all else
Other examples include racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, xenophobia, and religious discrimination.
We employ an intersectional and social justice lens to explore this issue and work to create a safe and fun space for ALL bodies, dismantle the stigma around fat, and create more equitable and accessible spaces on campus and in the community.
Despite efforts through the Equal Pay Act signed into law on June 10, 1963, to eliminate pay discrimination, the wage gap remains. Women in the U.S. who work full time, year-round are paid only 84 cents for every dollar paid to men — and for women of color, the wage gap is even larger. We focus on building awareness initiatives and programming that acknowledge the wage gap for intersectional identities and offer targeted resources to all our students, such as professional development opportunities, financial wellness workshops, and more to work to close this gap.
Radical Self Care
Audre Lorde first coined the term self-care in her 1988 essay collection "A Burst of Light," the activist and poet was battling cancer while still doing work that continues to inform and inspire movements of resistance. We all know the Lorde quote that dominates our timelines. It’s so prevalent, it’s become a cliche. But what Lorde initially wrote in full was anything but banal:
“I had to examine, in my dreams as well as in my immune-function tests, the devastating effects of overextension. Overextending myself is not stretching myself. I had to accept how difficult it is to monitor the difference. Necessary for me as cutting down on sugar. Crucial. Physically. Psychically. Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Radical Self-care is the assertion that you have the responsibility to take care of yourself first before attempting to take care of others. It’s necessary to fill your cup first, then to give to others from the overflow. This is what gives you the capacity to heal and move forward into your next chapter of life.
It is important to combine self-care with intersectionality theory and a liberation framework. True to Audre Lorde's example, self-care should also include social justice, preservation, and resistance against oppressive systems that threaten the mental health and wellness of this community.
Reproductive justice addresses reproductive oppression using an inclusive and intersectional approach. It moves the debate away from individual rights to an inclusive vision of better lives for women, healthier families, and sustainable communities. At the core of Reproductive Justice is the belief that all individuals have 1. the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy; 2. the right to have children, or not have children; 3. the right to parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.
Building a family, racial justice, paid leave, disability justice, supporting birthparents, freedom from violence, environmental justice, supporting teen parents, accessible abortion, mental health access, immigration justice, trans rights, and decolonization, are all reproductive justice.