University of Wisconsin–Madison

Winter Retreat Rewind (Jan 31, 2020)

Thank you to all of the people who joined us from across campus for the Teaching Academy’s Winter Retreat on January 31, 2020. Warren Scherer and Tiffany Lee from the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center delivered a very thought-provoking session on gender inclusivity – we greatly appreciate their expertise and generosity in sharing with us.

2020 Winter retreat

Here are just a few of the reflections that participants shared with us during the session:

  • In some instances, it may be difficult to find instances of diversity within your field. One way to bring greater awareness to the forces that affect gender diversity, is to be curious and engage in discussion about why that might be. For example, what kinds of things may have prevented a woman from becoming a well-known Baroque composer?
  • The Gender and Sexuality Campus Center is an excellent resource to list on a course syllabus for students.
  • Our choice of words can have unintended consequences. Rather than offering the selection “Other” on a form, consider using the phrase “Write-in.”
  • Many participants reflected on the complexity of pronouns:
    • Using one’s pronouns is becoming more routine and accepted on university campuses. We can practice solidarity and gender inclusivity by expanding this practice beyond the campus community.
    • Role model inclusivity by sharing your pronouns and make others aware that it is optional to share pronouns. This allows a person to share when they are ready to do so.
    • In some situations, explicitly using pronouns can signal (“out”) your political leanings.
    • If you are unsure about a person’s pronouns (gender identity, etc.), and it is context-appropriate, you can ask “May I ask a question about your pronouns?” Ask a question about the question you have.
  • Despite best efforts, participants recognized that learning can result in missteps.
    • Allow each other the grace to learn while recognizing that learning, particularly related to inclusivity, happens at the expense of others.
    • Identify someone who you want to learn and grow with; an accountability buddy with whom you can debrief both growth and missteps.

As we closed the Winter Retreat, Hazel Symonette left us with a very powerful message, that above all else, ensure that people know that they matter and belong.

If there is something from the Winter Retreat that you would like to share, please contact dan.pell@wisc.edu! We want to share in our learning.