Plaza Art Fair

For more than eight decades, the Plaza Art Fair has provided a weekend for people to come together and celebrate the arts. This year the Plaza Art Fair will be held Friday, September 25, through Sunday, September 27, 2015. The Plaza Art Fair will encompass nine street blocks, feature 240 artists, have three live music stages, and over 23 featured restaurant booths. IMG_0929 - Copy

Are you thinking of checking out the Plaza Art Fair this year? If so, stop by the UMKC booth in the Experience ArtsKC area and find out about arts programs at UMKC, including the Her Art Project that supports women in the arts. The UMKC booth is sponsored by the UMKC Women’s Center, the UMKC Conservatory of Music & Dance – Community Music & Dance Academy, UMKC Department of Art and Art History, and ArtsKC Regional Arts Council. We hope to see you there!

Friday, 9/25:  5pm -10pm
Saturday, 9/26: 10am -10pm
Sunday. 9/27: 11am – 5pm

Women’s History Month Trivia Table!

2015-Tabling-eViteBy Kacie Otto

I always love when the Women’s Center has an event scheduled. First of all, it means we have the chance to get out of the office to connect with more students about gender equity, and it also makes the day go by super quickly.

Today, I’m looking forward to our Women’s History Month Trivia Table! From 1:00-3:00 stop in the Royall Hall Lobby. We are giving away prizes and we hope to see you there! We can’t wait to try to stump you with some fun trivia questions about super cool women.

Meet Female Lighting Designer: Matiara Huff!

Matiara Huff, the subject of our interview with one of her younger sisters.

Matiara Huff, the subject of our interview with one of her younger sisters.

By Rocky Richards

I was able to sit down and chat with Matiara Huff, a female lighting design student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Check out the interview below!

What is your major?

My major is theatre design and production. (Specifically lighting)

What year is this for you at UMKC?

Second Year

What do you do as a lighting designer?

I use stage lighting to create focal points and moods on the stage.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a lighting designer?

When I started at UMKC I went to few lighting work calls to check out other students work. Before I noticed I became intrigued and realized it was something I would like to do as well!

Does gender play a major role as a female designer?

Yes, of course there’s a lot work that goes into lighting which many would look at as construction. We spend a lot of time up on ladders and moving heavy lights; in this case some would feel it’s a man’s task but I prefer to differ.

What advice would you give a woman that wanted to go into a field that society has told them is only for men?

First, I would say “Love what you do”! If you aren’t for sure things won’t get easier. Second, keep pushing no matter what, this field particularly is open-minded so there will be people on your side, but sometimes you will endure others who won’t be on your side. In this instance you just have to push past negativity and continue to work.

Who inspires you as a female lighting designer?

As a female designer I am inspired by the graduate lighting design students here at UMKC! They are almost always put under a lot of pressure and they consistently make it work.

The Gender Gap and High School Academics

The UMKC Women’s Center strives to promote gender equity. Recently I stumbled upon this blog by Maya Dusenbury on Feministing that addresses the relation of high school GPA’s to the gender gap in the workforce. I encourage you to take a look and reflect upon this issue over the summer month.


Chart of the Day: Women need a perfect GPA to
earn as much as men with a 2.0

“We already know that women need a PhD to earn as much as men with a BA, and now a new report on the relationship between high school grade point average (GPA) and income shows that women need a 4.0 GPA to earn as much as men with a 2.0. Via ThinkProgress:

GPA and future earnings by gender chart

The study also shows that, on average, women have significantly higher GPAs, while men still end up having higher incomes. This is why all the hand-wringing about how women are outperforming men in school is so silly. Yes, we are. But, as Bryce Covert explained recently, in the real world, the so-called “boy crisis” disappears – funny how sexism will do that.

As Jos wrote about the previous study showing how the pay gap persists at every level of educational attainment, these studies show that ”women need to climb higher up the ladder of degrees if they want earnings that are competitive with men.” And they show that much of the gender pay gap can’t be explained by education.”


April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, And for Good Reason.

By: Amanda Johnson

We hosted a Denim Day table on April 23 as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

We hosted a Denim Day table on April 23 as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Every 2 minutes, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States. Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 22 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime; 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men experience rape in their lifetime. Think about all the people you know- think about your family and friends. Does this startle you?

Unfortunately, reality paints a darker picture than what these numbers say. We live in a world where victims are prosecuted, where by-standers capture rape on their phone for laughs rather than for evidence, and where rapes go unreported and rapists go free. Why is it that, in a culture that knows rape is wrong, it is so prevalent?

Sexual violence isn’t comprised of a series of isolated events perpetrated by individuals. It’s engrained in our culture. As scholar Thomas Macaulay Millar wrote, “It takes one rapist to commit a rape, but it takes a village to create an environment where it happens over and over and over.” This is a culture where sexual violence is a normal occurrence and rape can be used as a humorous term- where rape victims can “deserve it.”

I’d rape her,” is defined by the Urban Dictionary as synonymous with “I’d tap that.”

Those Broncos got raped at the Super Bowl, amiright?

No. No. No.

Rape isn’t tantamount to losing a game. It isn’t a term to use when you find someone attractive.

The lines are being blurred between what constitutes condoned and consensual behavior and what sexual violence really is. In a survey of high school students, 56% of girls and 76% of boys believed forced sex was acceptable under some circumstances. It turns out, when you replace the word ‘rape’ with ‘forced sex,’ a lot more individuals will admit to committing it, being victims of it, and finding it acceptable under certain conditions. We are a culture that normalizes rape, yet, we don’t even seem to understand what it means.

Throughout the last 10 years, the National Crime Victimization Survey has reported that only approximately 30% of rape survivors report the incident to the police. Of those rapes reported to the police only 16% result in prison sentences. This means that only 5% of the time, a man who rapes ends up in prison. Unfortunately, when looking at institutions like university campuses, the numbers get even worse. The Justice Department estimates that even fewer than 5% of completed and attempted rapes of college women are reported to law enforcement officials. This number is even more staggering when you consider that 1 in 4 women will be the victim of sexual violence during her academic career. In these instances, 9 out of 10 women knew their attacker.

Despite the increased prevalence and need for victim services, universities most often  lack adequate policies and fail to provide for victims of sexual assault. The Campus Accountability Project, started by Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFE), showed the sad deficiencies in adequate sexual assault policies. Over 80% of policies received a C or below, with none making a grade higher than a B+. Nearly one-third of the policies didn’t comply with federal regulations, and only 40% had a dedicated full-time staff member dedicated to sexual assault prevention and education. In a world where victims are prosecuted, less than one-third of the policies stated that a victim’s dress and past sexual history are relevant during investigation.

In recent years, many universities have gone under fire for directly mishandling or covering up cases of rape and sexual assault- many times making national headlines such as Harvard and Yale. Some, such as Dartmouth, have even seen a decline in applications because of the negative attention. It’s time for universities to take a stand against sexual assault and provide the responsiveness that victims deserve.

We ended Sexual Assault Awareness Month with Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, a Men's March to end rape and sexual assault.

We ended Sexual Assault Awareness Month with Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, a Men’s March to end rape and sexual assault.

Tides are starting to turn though. Fortunately, this year, President Obama has issued a task force to directly deal with sexual assault on college campuses, and Sen. Claire McCaskill has conducted national surveys on the issue and has lead a bipartisan effort through the legislature to combat sexual assault in the military and now on college campuses. This effort is aimed at implementing new regulations that force campuses to adopt and change policies. Moreover, it seeks to provide additional resources to help universities be able to provide crucial services for those affected by sexual violence.

Many campuses have already made a stride towards victim services as well as prevention. Thankfully, the University of Missouri-Kansas City is one such school. It offers many services and support on campus for victims, awareness, and prevention. The UMKC Women’s Center and the Violence Prevention and Response Project seek to strengthen the university and community response to gender-based and sexual violence. Together, and in collaboration with other campus and community offices, the Women’s Center and Violence Prevention and Response Project provide vital training and education on prevention and response, resources and services for those affected by sexual violence including a safe place, referral information. Unlike many universities, UMKC offers a full time Victim Services Adjudication Advisor, Michelle Kroner. Her office, as well as the women’s center, is available to any student.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to remain active and to raise your voice against sexual assault. Sexual assault and rape has received national attention because of people like you. What UMKC and other institutions are doing is significant progress. But, it’s not a fix. Not yet. Remember, 1 is 2 many. If my article makes you uncomfortable: good. Be a person who seeks to change the system instead of ignoring it. Don’t be complicit. We can end the culture that perpetuates rape.


Author’s Note: Violence against women is a larger narrative than what simple statistics have to offer. It’s a culture that extends worldwide. It’s a world where one in three women will be raped in their lifetime- where sexual violence is more guaranteed than an education.



Wonder Woman and Director of Athletics: Carla Wilson

by Amber Charleville

Earlier this semester, I had the privilege of sitting down with UMKC’s Director of Athletics, Carla Wilson. It was a true delight to talk with her about UMKC, the Athletics Department, and Feminism.

Ms. Wilson was appointed to Director of 5d633a50a247f483e8e38254012d84ffAthletics on December 2, 2013, but she’d been serving as interim director for five months prior to that, as well as being UMKC’s Senior Woman Administrator. She has a long history of service with UMKC, receiving her bachelor’s degree in accounting here in 1988 and working for the university ever since.

Of course, those are all facts anyone can snag from her official bio, but I wanted to really understand her roles and her vision for UMKC Athletics. Ms. Wilson shared with me that over the years she’s supervised 14 of the 16 sports at UMKC, overseen budgeting for the entire department, and sat on several committees around campus, including the Chancellor’s Advisory Board to the Women’s Center.

Listening to her story is truly inspiring. She has worked her way from an entry level university position to Director of Athletics, the only female athletics director in the Western Athletic Conference. She also explained that the title “Senior Woman Administrator” is not a specific position. It is a title held in addition to someone’s role within the senior staff of an athletics department.

“It came out of the fact that there were lots of men at the top, making all the decisions, and they wanted to make sure there was a viable counterpart, a female voice that was making sure the interest of all the students, the female athletes were taken into account. From female coaches getting equal pay and the needs of female students, making sure their needs were being met.”

If face, she explained that when the Athletics Director is a woman, she can either keep the Senior Woman Administrator designation, or she can appoint another female member of the staff to the role, giving two empowered female voices to the department. She intends to pass that designation on.

We also discussed some of Ms. Wilson’s goals for UMKC athletics. She has several, but I was thrilled to hear that her top priority is the well being of her student athletes. “Everything we need to do here should center around student athlete success.” You get the sense listening to Ms. Wilson that she cares very deeply for all of her students, male and female, and that she will always have their best interests at heart as she works to make UMKC’s athletics department truly great.

“Academics are first and foremost,” she says, stressing that the current cumulative GPA for the 224 student athletes is 3.24. And that’s not to leave behind athletic excellence, either. Her goal is to start in the top 1/3rd of the Western Athletics Conference and move up from there.

She also laid out the expectation that the student athletes support other campus activities beyond sports. We here at the Women’s Center know all about that as the Athletics Department sponsors the participation of all their athletes in our Walk-A-Mile fundraiser. (For more information on Walk-A-Mile, which is this May, please see here.)

Our conversation also covered the importance of having strong women role models (for both young women and men), Ms. Wilson’s approach to feminism, and her work with the Women’s Center.

“Being a woman, it is very important to me that women, whether they’re students or people in the community, that we are making sure that we are celebrating women who do great things, that we’re providing programming, that we’re making people aware of what’s going on.”

Overall, I could not have been more impressed and inspired by my conversation with Ms. Wilson. She cares deeply about the community, this university, and all the students in it, athletes and non-athletes alike. She understands that people might be watching her a little more closely, waiting for the first woman to be the Director of Athletics here at UMKC to underachieve. But I for one will be watching, knowing that she is going to do great things for our Athletics Department and this school in general.

Thank you again to Ms. Wilson and her staff for arranging this interview. It was an amazing opportunity.


Equal Pay Day – April 8th!

In case you haven’t heard, tomorrow is Equal Pay Day! The Women’s Center will be outside of Royall (or inside, if the weather doesn’t allow) giving away pizza. Women will get two slices and men will get one in IMG_8092order to demonstrate the disparity between men and women’s pay. A white woman will make $.77 to a man’s $1.00 (and black and Latina women will make even less).

The United States Department of Labor – Women’s Bureau, AAUW, and UMKC Career Services will be joining us from 11:00AM – 1:00PM, Tuesday, April 7, 2014. Come check out our tables and learn how you can make a difference in this important issue!

And if you have time, be sure to check out the Equal Pay Workshop at the Miller Nichols Learning Center, room 151: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 from 3:00PM – 5:00PM.

Wonder Woman and Empowering Speaker: Chelsea Clinton

Picture of chelsea Clinton with her father, former President, Bill Clinton. Image from Creative Commons.

Picture of chelsea Clinton with her father, former President, Bill Clinton. Image from Creative Commons.

By Maritza Gordillo

February 24 finally arrived and I got the privilege of attending the Starr Women’s Hall of Fame Kickoff Event at which Chelsea Clinton was the featured speaker. To give you a bit of history, this event was made in commemoration of Martha Jane Phillips Starr whom “spent her life empowering Kansas City women. The Starr Women’s Hall of Fame-dedicated in Starr’s honor-recognizes the past and celebrates the present of leading metropolitan women whose contributions have left a lasting impact on Kansas City and beyond.” Chelsea gave so many ideas and shared the issues she’s been working to improve in collaboration with her father Bill Clinton and her mother Hillary Clinton. As a young woman, attending this event was so empowering because to see her so passionate for what she feels is the right thing to fight for is what we should all be doing. It would be so easy for her to just not do anything for her community,  yet she goes to events like these to promote and push everyone into advocating for what they are passionate about and want to see a change in; “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Marginalized Voices in Eating Disorder Recovery

NEDAwarenessLogoIn honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week and UMKC’s Every Body is Beautiful Week, this is a guest blog from the  National Eating Disorders Association Blog.

For more information about UMKC’s Every Body is beautiful Week events, please visit our Facebook page.

By Melissa Fabello, Editor, Everyday Feminism

Pick up any eating disorder memoir at your local bookstore, and you are more than likely to find some iteration of this narrative arc.

Well-to-do, young white woman develops an eating disorder, spirals into near-oblivion, seeks treatment for her eating disorder (which usually results in her being admitted into a residential facility), experiences a myriad of successes and failures, and eventually commits to finding her Self again. Well-to-do, young white woman walks out of treatment with a new sense of hope on the road to recovery.

From a consumer-driven standpoint, it makes complete sense. Of course people are buying (and selling) these stories. Just as we see in our media landscape, there is a huge market for the most extreme and “graphic” version of any issue, and there will be people who are attracted to cathartic memoirs that are moving in that they’re so terrifying. It takes courage to tell your story of struggle with a mental disorder, to confront the stigma. They may be written from a place of good intention to educate and raise awareness about how serious eating disorders are, but they can also have the unintended effect of making us feel better about ourselves, our lives – hell, even our diets. “At least I’m not like that,” or “I’m not that sick.”

From an eating disorder recovery perspective, we have to ask ourselves whether these limiting representations of life with an eating disorder are doing more harm than good in the absence of other diverse voices and experiences with these illnesses.  As important and valid as stories like the above are about a commonly misunderstood illness – and as necessary as it is for people, from the field of psychology to the general public, to read and understand them – they simply aren’t telling the whole story.

My eating disorder didn’t look like that, and it’s been difficult to find stories that more closely resemble my own. My eating disorder was private and lonely. My rapid weight loss raised a few concerned eyebrows and flippant comments, but only one intervention. My doctor didn’t offer anything to me except a nutritionist and an SSRI prescription – oh, and the dreaded diagnosis of EDNOS. My eating disorder wasn’t (yet) killing me. It wasn’t making strangers stare at me. It looked entirely from the outside – so long as no one ever got a peek at my journals – like a diet.

And yet, my eating disorder was terrifying. And it was serious. And it mattered. Considering most people struggling with bulimia are of average weight, binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder, most doctors hardly  receive any training about eating disorders, and people are socially rewarded in our culture for dieting or weight loss, I have a suspicion that I’m not alone.

While some may argue that these bestsellers are raising important awareness about a growing problem, my question is: How beneficial is it if the scope of what the shoppers see is such a narrow picture of eating disorder experiences? How concerning is it that many write these memoirs without realizing how critical it is to share their story responsibly – in ways that doesn’t invite comparisons of “not sick enough to count” or with triggering images and instructive behaviors?

Because here is what happens when the only eating disorder stories that we hear are the ones that fit the aforementioned description: We use them as examples to hold our own disorders up to. We use them to judge and determine what is and isn’t “really sick.” We start to trust that these narratives represent “real” eating disorders, and that experiences that fall outside of these confines just don’t count.

And that’s dangerous.

It’s dangerous for the men and the boys who are struggling when they’re looking in the mirror. It’s dangerous and invalidating for women and other people of color when eating disorders are chiefly looked at as a “white woman’s problem.” It’s dangerous for trans* folks whose body image battles are always lumped in as related to gender-related dysphoria.

It’s dangerous to every person who’s ever peered into the DSM for diagnostic criteria and thought, “Well, I don’t purge that much” or “I haven’t lost that much weight.” It’s dangerous to every person who’s ever thought that they must not be “that bad” just because they don’t see stars when they stand up or don’t have heart complications or haven’t been questioned about erosion by their dentist or don’t have to take a leave of absence from school or don’t ever see a therapist or don’t get admitted into residential treatment or don’t have to be fed through a tube.

As is every structure that exists to serve a hierarchy of power, when the landscape is primarily non-inclusive eating disorder stories, it’s dangerous to the marginalized. They say, “Your voices don’t matter. Your experiences aren’t important.” It’s dangerous to reality.

And something has to change.

So, with that in mind, I (in collaboration with NEDA) would like to collect and curate your eating disorder stories. We want to highlight recovery stories that challenge that dominant narrative formula. There are already some brave people out there sharing their stories, talking about how their ethnicity, gender identity, orientation,  age, or religion have impacted their experience with an eating disorder, but as a field and community, we have still have so far to go. You are invited to join us.

We want all of it: your successes, your messes, your relapses, your questions. We want to hear from people of marginalized identities and from different parts of the world. We want to span the entire spectrum. We want to create a collection of stories that tells the whole truth so that we can present the world with what the reality of most eating disorders look like – because how can we truly address a problem if we don’t know what it looks like?

So if you have ever read an eating disorder memoir and felt misrepresented, underrepresented, or unrepresented, we want to hear from you. Submit your story now!

Interested in sharing your experiences as a step toward public enlightenment? For guidelines and to submit your stories, check out our submissions page here.

And for more on what I wish people understood about eating disorders, check out this video.

Participate in Every Body is Beautiful Week 2014

Hello everyone! The blog below is a guest blog from UMKC’s USucceed Blog. It features our Every Body is Beauiful Week events (taking place dureing the 2014 National Eating Disorder Awareness Week), so check it out!

EveryBody“UMKC’s annual EveryBody Is Beautiful Week will take place February 24-28.  Stop by informational tables to get information on body image and eating disorders and “trash your fat talk”.  Take part all week in Operation Beautiful by posting sticky notes with positive messages around campus.  Supplies are available at the tables and all week at the Women’s Center, Counseling Center, Multicultural Student Affairs, Swinney Recreation, MindBody Connection, and Student Health & Wellness.

Join us on Wednesday, February 26 from 5–7pm in the MindBody Connection (ASSC 112) for a Love Your Body Party, with creative and relaxing activities designed to celebrate all our bodies do for us and fight back against unhealthy messages about weight and eating!

Schedule of tables:

  • Monday, February 24, 11 am – 1 pm in the Health Sciences Building Lobby
  • Tuesday, February 25, 11 am – 1 pm in the Atterbury Student Success Center
  • Wednesday, February 26, 11 am – 1 pm in Royall Hall

EveryBody Is Beautiful Week is offered by the UMKC Women’s Center and Counseling Center, with co-sponsorship from MSA, Swinney Rec, OSI, Student Health, UMKC Athletics and MindBody Connection.  Contact Rachel Pierce at 235-5186 or the Women’s Center at 235-1638 with questions.”