Self Care and Contemplation Space Grand Opening

On Friday, May 20 the WCC had the Grand Opening of the new Self Care and Contemplation Space! The opening featured a guided meditation led by Ph.D student Victoria Chang, massages by Serge from Rejuv at Work, and a self care workshop by Priscila Garcia from the Haas Center. Participants also drew and made crafts.

The SCCC is meant to promote balance and rejuvenation for all members of the WCC community. It is a safe space that one can enter with the intent to care for oneself and fulfill one’s emotional needs, either in solitude or with companions. As such, the space is equipped with various items including books, snacks, seashells, pillows, and various other items that promote comfort or reflection. For the WCC community of academics, activists… humans, the SCCC is a much-needed oasis to relieve stress and invigorate the spirit – the source of our creativity and resilience.  

On Thursday from 2:15 to 4:15 there will be workshop in the SCCS to make body creams with Ashley Mills! There will also be massages by Serge from Rejuv at Work.


– Kathryn Rydberg ’19 and Maya Odei ’16

Femtastic Friday 5/20

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Happy Week 8!  We can’t believe how quickly the year has gone by!
Scenes from Beyonce’s visual album, Lemonade, are now available in a coloring book!  Check it out.
We are deeply angered by Oklahoma’s proposed law to make performing abortions a felony.  Abortion doctors provide a life-saving and vital service, and we are sad to see them continue to come under attack.
Like those seeking abortions, the challenges abortion providers face are mediated by their various identities.  Check out this profile of a black abortion doctor in the Deep South.
We were also immensely disappointed that the Navajo Nation lost their famed court case against Urban Outfitters for trademark violation.
Heteronormative scripts invade our lives and our mindsets in ways we might not even think of.  Check out this advice on having sex outside the gender binary.
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[Image: Red and yellow Rosie the Riveter style drawing of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The text at the top reads “We can slay it”]
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Women in STEM Admit Weekend Panel

During Admit Weekend, the Women’s Community Center hosted a Woman in STEM panel for prospective freshmen. The purpose of the panel was to share experiences of being a woman in STEM at Stanford and also give advice to the prospective freshmen interested in pursuing STEM.

On the panel were Celina Malavé (BioE, 2016), Michaela Hinks (BioE, 2017), Hannah Kay (HumBio, 2017), Pooja Varman (HumBio, 2017), Alona King (CS, 2017), Kelsey Schroeder (MCS, 2017), Irene Jeon (MCS/SymSys, 2018), and Natalie Gable (Undeclared, 2019). The event opened with each panelist giving a brief introduction of themselves, their major, and a quick story about their academic career at Stanford. The floor then opened for ProFros to ask questions, on topics ranging from research to homework to specifically being a woman in STEM at Stanford.

There were a few topics that repeatedly came up during the panel: finding supportive teams to work with, asking for help, and not comparing oneself to others.

Some advice that was shared: Everyone knows that being a Stanford student is academically challenging and overwhelming at some times. However, school can be so much easier (and more enjoyable) when you have a supportive group of people to work with. Why slog through homework alone when you can have late night pset parties? Many of the panelists agreed that finding these groups during their freshman year was not only helpful in terms of classes, but also in terms of finding communities. Another common theme was the importance of asking for help and using the many, many resources that Stanford provides. TA’s and office hours are there to help you—take advantage of them! And finally, don’t stress yourself out by comparing yourself to others. It’s best to focus on your own work without worrying about how others are doing in their classes.

The turnout for the event was successful and we hope we were able to give a few words of wisdom to the next class of badass women in STEM!





Cultivating Self-Love: A Recap of SSPB’s BeYOUtiful Workshop

By Daryth Gayles, WCC Campus Outreach Intern

On Monday, May 9, Students Supporting Body Positivity (SSBP), in partnership with the Bridge, led a body positivity workshop at the WCC. The workshop helped students redefine beauty, build confidence, and foster self-love. I wanted to share some of the workshop’s highlights:

Self-Love Meditation

This was a fantastic way to open the workshop. The meditation asked us to be still, to feel love for ourselves, and to feel loved by others. It helped to put us at ease in preparation to share thoughts and personal stories during the workshop.

Health and Beauty Messages

The workshop leaders led a discussion delving into the health and beauty messages that society sends us. These come from a wide variety of sources—peers, parents, the media, coaches—the list goes on and on. We talked about how messages from doctors can be particularly problematic. Doctors often use their professional authority to tell patients what is best for them regarding exercise and eating habits. However, there is science that suggests nutritional and exercise needs are quite individualized. Indeed, it can be empowering to know that YOU are the expert on your own body.

We also discussed the workout pressure on campus. The Stanford community is very active, and those who aren’t as active often feel pressure to do more. However, it is important to acknowledge that Stanford is an isolated environment. Societal norms are very different outside of the “Stanford bubble”. Messages about health and beauty vary with time and place, and thus messages are constantly changing. There is no single right or wrong answer.

Throughout our discussion, we tried to define what beauty meant to us. We saw beauty as a broader term, encompassing inner and outer radiance. We came to the conclusion that when we think of someone who is beautiful in our lives, we don’t necessarily think of celebrities or supermodels; we think of people who are loving, who give off positive energy which radiates its own type of special beauty.

Intuitive Eating

The workshop leaders introduced us to intuitive eating. This provides a new way to look at health and nutritional food consumption. They provided the following definition:

Intuitive eating is the practice of letting your body guide you in choosing what, when, and how much to eat. Eating intuitively means sensing the signals from your body to tell you what you need, and trusting yourself to make decisions that will nourish your unique body. Rather than relying on external messages to tell you what foods are good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, you take time to ask yourself what foods your body wants in the moment, and do your best to give it what it asks for, no matter how the food is labeled by others.

That is not to say we should give up on healthy eating entirely and subsist solely on junk food. Intuitive eating, at its core, is about listening to our bodies while practicing moderation. Every food can have its place in a healthy diet.

My Beauty Is…

In accordance with our group definition of a broader definition of beauty, this activity allowed us to create a poem declaring  our personal beauty. The workshop leaders read a series of sentences that we filled in with phrases of our choosing. We wrote down our insecurities, the things that we love to do, our strangest habits, body parts that we were teased for, the moments when we felt the most empowered. We then placed the phrase “My Beauty is” before each description, creating a poem that communicates a diverse definition of personal beauty. Personal beauty is not purely physical, nor is it purely a collection of our most positive attributes. As cliche as it may sound, we established that beauty lies in the humanity of our imperfections, our kindnesses, our passions, and our quirks.


#IamAWomanInSTEM Event Recap

IMG_3159.jpgIMG_3146.jpgPursuing STEM as a woman can come with it many obstacles and microagressions based on gender. To address and recognize these challenges, we organized a week-long art and photo project, titled #IAmAWomanInSTEM. The project included making a canvas with microaggressions that people in our community have faced written on it, and later taking photos with the canvas. We ended the event with a debrief and recap on Friday.

The purpose of the project was to acknowledge the gender-based microaggressions that women in STEM here at Stanford face, yet also provide a safe space for these people to discuss their experiences and find support. The week-long event started on Tuesday, with canvas decorating in White Plaza. The canvas featured microaggressions that those in our community have heard in their academic or professional work. On Wednesday, we took photos of women in STEM in front of the canvas. We made signs (saying “#IAmAWomanInSTEM &&) that people could fill out to describe themselves. Some favorites read “#IAmAWomanInSTEM && a justice seeker” and “#IAmAWomanInSTEM && an educator.” The intent of this was to show that despite the negative experiences, many can claim their identities beyond the stereotypes of being a woman in STEM. The lunch debrief at the WCC on Friday served to discuss not only the event but also to provide a space to share experiences of being a woman in STEM at Stanford.

Over the past week, I most enjoyed talking to the people who came up to our table while we were making the canvas and taking the photos. We got a lot of women coming up to us and commenting that they had such similar experiences as the ones on the canvas. I think it’s all too easy sometimes to forget that you’re not alone, especially when faced with challenges. Talking to those who came up to us, I was reminded that despite obstacles, there is a huge, supportive community of women in STEM who know exactly what it’s like to be a minority in a STEM field. At our lunch debrief on Friday, we discussed the importance of supportive communities as women in STEM. Seeking communities, role models, and supportive friends can be instrumental in succeeding as a woman in STEM. We also discussed strategies to take care of ourselves and empower ourselves when faced with challenges. From the entire week, I walked away with a sense of empowerment, a sense that I had communities to rely upon despite obstacles.

The conversation about women in STEM is certainly not over and we hope that this event contributed to this important discussion in our community.

Produced by the Women In STEM team: Irene Jeon, Natalie Gable, and Celina Malave


Women In Transition: Challenges Facing Women Refugees

Women and girls comprise half of the world’s 17 million refugees. To survive displacement, refugee women and girls often take on the responsibility of providing for their families, which exposes them to sexual and gender-based violence both from within and outside their communities. With the current attention paid to crises in the Middle East and Europe, refugee issues have entered the media. Many countries have put resources into building refugee camps without developing long term solutions. Nevertheless, knowledge about refugees and resources for them are still lacking.

Currently, many of the aid programs for refugees focus on physical needs, such as food, water, and shelter. A majority of the focus is placed on more short-term solutions such as improving the refugee camps that are currently very dangerous places for refugees. Many women face trauma and fear leaving the house and risking their physical safety or legal status.

Regardless of how important it is to improve these conditions, countries should also start placing more emphasis on long-term solutions regarding the resettlement of refugees in host countries.  Without advocacy and support, it is incredibly difficult for a refugee to navigate the new country.This is where organizations like Asylum Access and Refugee Transitions come in. They provide expert legal guidance to refugees to help them access resources and improve their legal status. This focus on physical needs only also can cause further psychological distress when refugees are not engaged in the process.

To discuss these challenges commonly faced by refugee populations especially by women, the WCC hosted two panelists. Our two guests were Jane Pak (Refugee Transitions, a local NGO with an international outreach) and Diana Essex (Asylum Access, an international NGO with large Bay Area operations).

Both of our speakers pointed out specific challenges for women regarding the difficulty balancing childcare and employment. Refugee Transitions seeks to cross this barrier by implementing home-based solutions and welcoming children at programs. They also emphasized the difficulty for refugees to find employment due to barriers posed by employment laws. Oftentimes, restrictions push refugees to seek illegal forms of employment. Illegal status in the country makes accessing resources very difficult.

Some people worry about balancing integration into a new country with one’s interest in going home. This is important to consider and individuals may have different concerns or priorities. Talking to people about their needs is key. Furthermore, providing work permits and other resources that allow some measure of financial independence actually makes it easier for a refugee to return home. Financial resources are important for travel, and access to information allows people to learn more about their home country and ease the transition back.

Too often, refugees are seen as a burden on a country. Ultimately, they can bring a great influx of resources. They often come with unique knowledge and the need to work hard to improve their condition. Employing these skills and experiences could create great progress for the country of refuge. Diana Essex mentioned that the refugee populations are very entrepreneurial; however, because of the employment legislation, the host country doesn’t receive data about these communities’ contribution to the national income or tax revenue levels.

Our conversation landed on the conclusion that engaging refugee populations, via employment, education and communication, is a key to a successful resettlement program. Ultimately, this approach is more effective, more thoughtful, and more just. Jane Pak, from Refugee Transitions, mentioned one awesome example of engaging with and learning from refugees. They created a narrative cookbook that tells the stories of refugee women through family recipes. You can check out the cookbook hereIf you would like to take a look at the book, we have a copy at the WCC Library! You are welcome to learn and try a couple of these yummy recipes.

Posted by Belce and Annie

Femtastic Friday 5/6

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Happy Week 6!  Here are week six’s femtastic links:
Cultural trends often misappropriate aspects from other cultures in ways that are violent and erasing.  We love this showcase of What Beauty Looks Like When It isn’t Appropriated.
Asian Americans are often left out of major roles in the film industry.  The new hashtag #WhitewashedOUT pushes back against the white-washing of Asian roles.
Obama may name Stonewall Inn as a national monument, making it the first one to honor LGBT history and liberation.  Check out the story here and read about the trans women of color behind Stonewall’s legacy here.
[TW: Discussions of PTSD, rape, war] We as a society still struggle to grasp trauma in all of its complexity and nuance.  Check out this piece on how writing About trauma can be a source of trauma itself.
As we near the end of the year, a reminder to show yourself love:
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[Image of flowers in background with white text in center that reads: “Give yourself some credit. You’ve come pretty far.”]
Have a vibrant and loving weekend!
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Herstory of Activism at Stanford

Past and present activism at Stanford was discussed at an event on April 14, which included presentations from University Archivists Jenny Johnson and Josh Schneider as well as a panel featuring Gina Hernandez, Cindy Ng, and Karen Biestman. Jenny Johnson spoke about the history of Women at Stanford, from the first sororities on campus, early women’s sports, and the longstanding limit on the number of women that could enroll at one time. Josh Schneider presented selections from the University Archives showing Social Justice at Stanford, including a 1968 event at which African-American students expressed their frustration at the non-white experience of Stanford following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., on-campus protests of the Vietnam War, and the formation of cultural centers. Cindy Ng, the Director of A3C, discussed the infrastructure of community centers at Stanford and the student group Concerned Students for Asian-American Studies that demonstrated for an Asian-American Studies program in 1994. Karen Biestman is the Associate Dean and Director of the Native American Cultural Center; she answered questions about activism at Stanford vs. activism at Berkeley, facilitating communication between the administration and students, and the meaning of diversity in higher education. Gina Hernandez was a student activist involved in the 1989 takeover of the president’s office over minority representation at Stanford. IMG_2279Posted by Kathryn Rydberg, WCC

Thoughts on “Courageous Conversations”

“I love the distribution of who these questions are directed at”, Harry says into the microphone, his British accent ringing clear. I turn to my friend my mouth aghast. We are sitting in the audience at the first event of “Courageous Conversations”, a series in which Stanford students discuss challenging issues. This first event features Harry Elliott of The Stanford Review and Measha Ferguson-Smith of the Black Feminist Collective. The two have just answered questions from a facilitator regarding The Stanford Review article, “The Stanford Review Demands Change”.

I was not surprised when Harry voiced his discomfort. It had been clear all along, especially in contrast to Measha Ferguson-Smith, who had sat next to him, calm and assertive. Ask anyone who was at the event about Harry’s red face. About his constant folding and unfolding of legs. At one point, Measha had even resorted to stating, “I’m speaking to you” to get him to lift his eyes from the ground to meet hers.

After the facilitator had exhausted her prepared questions, she had opened the floor for audience members to put forth their own. Several individuals had raised their hands and the facilitator had assigned each a number. After Person One and Person Two had asked their questions, both of which happen to be addressed to Harry, he had made the statement. “I love the distribution of who these questions are directed at”. Harry had come to the event of his own free will. The event was open to all. The facilitator was allowing anyone who had raised their hand to ask a question.

But white male privilege knows no bounds. Sorry, Harry. I have no tears for the discomfort you feel at present. They were all used up on the “half-lives*”, the unarmed black men and women who are slain across the streets of America everyday. They were all used up when Donald Trump called for a wall to be built between us and the “rapists and criminals”.

I also have no tears when your freedom of speech is “threatened by” students of marginalized identities, whom that speech attacks. The notion that students of color can oppress a white male is absurd. Yes Harry, your freedom of speech is encroached upon by students of color. And the Master’s right to property is encroached upon by the slave who demands his freedom.

– Maya Odei, ’16 (modei@)

*”The Stanford Review Demands Change”, Demand #4