The University Record, January 28, 1997

Commitment, vision, support necessary for women to achieve

By Rebecca A. Doyle

 

It is difficult to get women together in a room and come up with a single, unified vision of what---and how---they should work together to achieve, asserts Lorraine Gutierrez.

"How do we get to the practical without losing sight of the vision?" she and Edith Lewis asked the men and women assembled for "It's the Dawn of a New Day," an interactive Martin Luther King Day workshop sponsored by the Women of Color Task Force.

To begin, the two asked participants to write down what they would wish for in their own environment that was different from the present---what would the "new day" dawn upon? Small groups wrote the ways they would like to see society change before they could feel that women are on equal footing.

Lewis, professor of social work and of women's studies, told participants that she had learned "never to let people leave the room without giving some kind of commitment" and, with Gutierrez, challenged all members of the audience to write down something they will do within the next year, to tell the person next to them what fears they had about completing the task and then to ask for help to accomplish it.

Gutierrez, associate professor of social work and of psychology, said she had developed a concept of communication that would help women better understand each other and be able to develop an ability to work toward common goals, which she called the three Cs---confidence, consciousness and connection.

"Confidence," she said," is knowing what we can do by ourselves and what we cannot do by ourselves, and what we need others to accomplish."

Gutierrez defined consciousness as the awareness of others and their backgrounds. Knowing about the people we work with will help us work better, she said.

She said connection is "recognizing the strength of relationship and the importance of seeing each other's important strengths." Power grows when it is shared, she noted, and is necessary if "we are going to work together and make a difference."

Using those guidelines and inspired by stories Lewis and Gutierrez told of "warrior women" who spent years, and sometimes decades, persevering in the name of their cause, each member of the audience of approximately 30 men and women left the presentation with a goal, support to help reach the goal and the three Cs as a guide.

The workshop was sponsored by the Women of Color Task Force.