William & Mary has long been a place of innovation and opportunities, and this year, it has taken another step in the tradition of promoting welfare on campus.
Recently, W&M's Women’s Network expanded its membership to include all women employees of the College.
The Women’s Network helps women employees of William & Mary connect not only with other women workers at the College, but also all over the state of Virginia, and offers many resources for job and personal assistance. It provides important information on adjusting to W&M life and offers a number of talks, discussions and workshops relevant to women’s rights and needs in the workplace.
Like William & Mary itself, the Women’s Network has a long history. Starting out several decades ago as the “Faculty Women’s Caucus,” it then represented only the female faculty and was a highly political organization that strove for pay and hiring equality between men and women and for a day-care center to be built to help faculty mothers. Gradually, however, it made a shift toward becoming more of a network than a political activism group, and now has added to its goals supporting female employees with work-related issues and work-life balance.
The Women’s Network is part of a longer tradition of women at the College. William & Mary was one of the first colleges in the country to offer enrollment to women -- officially in 1918 -- but records show that women had sometimes attended lectures as early as 1896. The first woman to graduate with a law degree was Virginia Mister, who received it in 1937 after receiving a Bachelor of Arts from W&M in 1935.
Departments created to appeal to women students included home economics in the early 1900s, and, much later, women’s studies, beginning in 1990.
Women employees at the College began with Blanche Trevilian Moncure, a librarian, who served from 1899-1902. Now, women hold jobs at the College in every department.
“The Women’s Network has been around for decades,” said Rowan Lockwood, one of the heads of the organization and also associate professor of geology and faculty director of academic advising. “It’s changed a lot. Recently, it was dormant for about three years, but now it’s come back in a big way.”
The organization has celebrated many successes. In addition to expanding membership dramatically, the Women’s Network hosted the first Women’s Forum at the College and requested that the College administration conduct a faculty salary equity study, taking into account not only gender, but also racial and ethnic diversity. It was the first of its kind for W&M, and the results were heartening: pay grades were fairly equal between the genders. Their work, however, is not done.
“It’s really important that we’ve done this,” Lockwood said of the salary study. "However, we have never had a gender/ethnicity salary equity study done on the professionals or staff at this college, and that needs to happen next.”
Overall, Lockwood is pleased by the direction that the Women’s Network has taken.
“I think female employees at W&M more successfully mentor and advocate for women by accepting everyone into the network,” she said. “Together, we can achieve more for women employees.”