Focus Groups and Feminism–Part 2
Excluding faculty, there are about 15,000 people who work at UNC. I knew the university was a huge employer for the Triangle area before I started this job, but in recruiting for and moderating the focus groups as well as by meeting with employees in the Provost’s Office, I have started to recognize the amount of diversity of UNC staff jobs. In a lot of ways, UNC is like its own city. A few examples of UNC employees’ jobs include working in museum administration, mail services, housekeeping, neuroscience research, student health, and athletics. So it might not be so surprising that as a future public administrator coming from a program with a strong focus on local government, working in higher education for a summer internship has been a great fit for me!
With the focus groups, it has been really interesting to see how much staff have in common in terms of challenges they face and services they want to see from the Women’s Center despite the differences in their work. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot of diversity in people’s comments and perspectives, which is partly related to the role they fill at UNC. But still, certain topics have come up in the focus groups that I definitely see as potentially recurring themes such as a lack of resources, work/ life balance issues, awareness and education trainings, and advocacy for staff issues.
Along with being a vehicle to gather information and to learn more about the diversity of employees’ experiences, I am beginning to realize that these focus groups can fulfill other needs for the Women’s Center and the participants. They are raising awareness about the existence of the Women’s Center by reaching staff members who have never used the Center before. They are allowing the Women’s Center to identify opportunities for collaboration with other departments and centers across the university. They are an opportunity for participants to meet like-minded employees and network with other professionals who they might never have met otherwise. The focus groups are also (I hope!) showing participants that the Women’s Center recognizes the importance of their opinions and needs and appreciates their hard work.
On a completely different note, here are the results from the Women’s Center’s one day “Who Needs Feminism?” campaign!
It is so encouraging to see so much support from just a few hours of sitting in the Pit! Thanks to everyone who participated!