The Wake Forest University and Wake Forest School of Medicine Women’s Forum was created in 2004. Dr. Anne Boyle, Reynolda campus, and Dr. Claudine Legault, medical campus, were the first Co-Directors of the Forum. At that time, issues such as daycare and maternity leave were discussed by the group. In 2004, the Women’s Forum sent a survey to women faculty and administrators from both campuses to identify key issues. The response was modest, but good information was gathered. Following the survey, a gathering was held at Bridger Field House that brought together about 100 women.
When President Hatch came to Wake Forest, he wanted to meet with the Women’s Forum and it appeared people had begun to think of the grassroots Women’s Forum as an organized group. Different organizations now ask specifically for representation from the Women’s Forum.
Today, we are an association who aims: 1) to promote and sustain a healthy and stimulating working environment in which the contributions and needs of women are fully acknowledged and fully rewarded, and 2) to promote collegiality across all schools of the university.
In 1988, the Association of Women Faculty and Administrators (AWFA) was born. The AWFA started on the Reynolda campus, but eventually moved to the medical campus (then known as Bowman Gray School of Medicine) as well. Initially, the association held lunches where women who sometimes felt isolated in their departments would get together to socialize. Eventually, speakers were invited to their gatherings.
The group began to use a model with 2 directors: one from the medical campus and one from the Reynolda campus. The directors would decide what the agenda was for the year. The first meeting at the medical campus circa 1993 brought 70 women. Everyone was blown away by how many women were involved. Some of the special topics covered by the AWFA at some of the meetings included: best practices for women (established best practices conference), commission on status for women, women’s health issues (1991), and sexual harassment issues. Additionally, deans and provosts came to speak at the meetings. The AWFA also put forward names of females for graduation speakers and got mammograms to be covered for the Reynolda campus. They were truly a grassroots group of women pushing hard for issues they believed were important. Talking and building community helped women begin to address issues together.