Men, Women, and Student Employment
On Wednesday, November 19, 2003 SELT sponsored a fall professional development event titled, “Women, Men, and Student Employment.” There were approximately seventy attendees from the CSB/SJU community and student employment partners. The event focus was on gender in the workplace; specifically in the CSB/SJU student employment environment. The objectives were for participants to:
- become aware of gender as it relates to student employment,
- incorporate best practices when working with gender issues, and
- gain a better understanding of the CSB/SJU culture.
The presentation began with audience participation. Participants were asked to discuss different issues of gender related to their experience at CSB/SJU. These issues were then gathered and discussed as an opening to the presentation.
Gar Kellom, SJU Vice President of Student Development, began his presentation with leadership in student employment positions. He spoke about the history of SELT and its roots from the Kellogg Leadership Initiative. His major focus was on the gender of men. He shared with the audience research from the men’s center, Astin survey of first-year men, and the CSB/SJU Senior Survey. Kellom spoke to supervisors about how they are the key process in working with gender. He states that supervisors are caring adults in the lives of young people and that we can model behavior across campuses. He reports the need to refrain from shaming and blaming men and that we should support them in their self-discovery. Kellom ended with an audience question: “What is the supervisor role with college men as employees? With women?”
The audience then joined by reviewing the question posed at their individual tables. The presentation transitioned to Mary Geller, CSB Vice President of Student Development. Participants reported to the group the understanding of their roles as a supervisor for men and for women.
Mary began her presentation on women with a quote from Astin and Kent (1983) regarding women and self-esteem. Mary stated, “Women must be given leadership experiences as students to develop greater self-esteem.” This can be completed on the job with student employment. Mary reported information of women related to the CSB/SJU Senior Survey. According to the data from this survey, women have performed better and have higher grades than men but rank themselves low on achievement and ability. Geller spoke about the important legacies for a campus of women. These legacies are: role models, belief in student capacity to succeed, and tangible and environmental support that facilitate student success. Mary echoed Gar with some of the needs women need from their supervisors, but also stated the following: supervisors need to provide an encouraging work atmosphere and avoid a null environment. We need to recognize a woman’s struggle as a supervisor and promote her belief in her own abilities.
Both Kellom and Geller addressed the following question: So what does gender have to do with SELT? The following answers were provided in accordance to gender.
- Men need to discover who they are under the socially constructed gender role
- It is the liberal arts process to help students figure out who they really are and what they are good at – passion and purpose
- The student job can be a key place where that happens with mentoring
- We all need to recognize that socially constructed gender roles affect who we are and how we interact in the workplace
- When we see gender we are more able to proactively address the issue it may raise Student employment is a perfect “lab” to test some of these discoveries.
- We all should provide a safe place for all of us to explore the dynamics of gender
- The founding premise of Kellogg was based on a collaborative leadership model, a model that was developed primarily from women’s ways of leading
Supervisors were then given the following questions to ask themselves regarding the subject of gender and how it relates to their particular student employment position:
- Is the work environment equalitarian?
- Is the work environment horizontally structured?
- Is the work environment participatory?
- Does the work environment promote concern for the individual while still holding each member accountable for staff goals?
- Is the task balanced with relationships?
Concluding the program the audience again was asked to participate by regrouping to answer the following questions?
- How do we affirm or reinforce gender stereotypes?
- How do we break gender barriers and stereotypes?
A prize drawing was held for the book, “You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation” by Deborah Tannen.
We also have a useful, though dated, article on the subject from one of our SELT members here...