Furthering feminism at UBC Okanagan

People and Places | Strategy 4: Inclusive Excellence
Theme: Inclusion
Photo credit: Darren Hull

Through advocacy, education and sharing of personal stories, women scholars, students and staff at UBC Okanagan are working to positively change the lived experiences of women in the classroom, workplace and world.

UBC Okanagan spoke with a number of community members about their experiences of feminism in society and at UBC. Read the full story at the UBC Okanagan Stories site, or see a few highlights below:

“I like to say there’s always been a women’s movement,” says Prof. Alison Conway, professor of Gender and Women’s Studies (GWST) in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. “I could talk to you about all sorts of gender activism over the past hundred years, but in terms of our modern, western, liberal sense of feminism, the emergence really came in the 19th century, and was largely based around the right to vote.”

“I think a lot of people think of feminism as hating men, or being against femininity, and I don’t think that’s true or helpful,” says Dr. Heather Latimer, Assistant Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies.

The impact of feminism in the community extends beyond only women. “I’ve had men in my class say they thought the course was just going to be man-bashing — but they were ultimately able to talk about things for the first time in their lives without being judged,” Dr. Latimer added, noting that gender expectations for men are also unachievable.

“[P]eople on campus are starting to realize the importance of having a GWST program,” says Dr. Ilya Parkins, Professor in Gender and Women’s Studies. “It was a bit more niche in 2007, and now, particularly in the last three to four years, there’s greater interest in understanding the history of how, as a society, we got here.”

Dr. Jennifer Jakobi, Professor in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences, is on a mission to recruit and retain women and under-represented persons in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

It was personal experience that led Dr. Jakobi to create UBC Okanagan’s Integrative Stem Team Advancing Networks of Diversity (iSTAND) program in 2014, as an outreach program aimed at teaching children the meaningful impact of science.

In addition to youth programs, iSTAND now hosts adult workshops to educate STEM leaders and members of organizations on the importance of integrating and retaining women and minorities.

“We’re working to create a positive space,” says Jenica Frisque, equity facilitator in UBCO’s Equity and Inclusion office. “Diversity should be celebrated and embraced — engaging with difference is a hallmark of the UBC experience. I also see that more faculty and staff are taking full parental leaves and on a systems level, inclusion is part of the university’s new strategic plan, so I think that’s a lot to be proud of.”

UBC is committed to cultivating and supporting a diverse community that creates and sustains equitable and inclusive campuses, through Strategy 4: Inclusive Excellence.