According to the Pew Research Center, more women are attending college than men. In 2012, statistics suggested that 71 percent of females, right out of high school, continue to college while 61 percent of males go onward. Helena Soholm, Doctoral Intern in the Student Counseling Center, says this presents an opportunity for the campus of UW Tacoma.
As part of her one-year full-time internship in clinical psychology for her PhD, Soholm has started a women’s group. After transferring to an all women’s college during her undergraduate studies, Soholm experienced a camaraderie that has influenced her to this day.
“A lot of people think that when women get around each other they get catty, jealous, and all these negative connotations, but I experienced the opposite,” Soholm said. “It was a very supportive environment and when there was no competitive environment created by co-ed, we were very supportive of each other.”
Soholm saw a need for that camaraderie at UWT and began the women’s group last year.
“I wanted to create that here but it has been rough,” Soholm said. “The campus is not used to having groups. We are not a residential campus like UW Seattle.”
According to Soholm, there have been groups as intimate as one person and as big as seven.
“There’s a lot of investment trying to get this going,” Soholm said. “The campus is not very open to this right now, in terms of people coming.”
Eileen Dolan, senior in psychology, can see the difficulty trying to get the group started but sees the need to continue.
“It’s a place where women who are empowered to come together instead of fighting and gossiping,” Dolan said. “I plan on networking more next quarter.”
Most of the blame for the small turnout is placed heavily on the new class schedule implemented this school year.
Despite the turnout, both attendees were confident in the purpose of the group and shared the sentiment that it was a “safe place” for women to come together and voice their thoughts and opinions.
Carolyn Tu, a senior in communication, feels the unity when she comes to the meetings.
“We are women, we like to chat but sometimes we are stressed out and we need to get that out,” Tu said. “We are busy in our careers, families, school and sometimes we don’t have time to network. This is a place for that.”
Last year the meetings were framed around topics such as body image, careers, and relationships. Pulling back from that format, this year Soholm wants the group to form its own discussion, giving it more freedom. But Soholm sees that because of the lack of members there is a momentum for this kind of format to flourish that is missing.
“In my vision I want a number between eight to 15 women at every weekly meeting, then I can be less of a facilitator and more of a participant,” Soholm said. “Now, people come and get discouraged because that momentum is missing. If they all came for a couple weeks something magical would happen.”
Dolan envisions the women’s group growing with things like events, study sessions, female professors coming to meetings, and social media activity. And Tu sees discussions centered around cultural identity and classroom support as topics to be explored.
A confidentiality form was agreed upon by the group encompassing their values; listening and respecting others’ opinions. The group acknowledges and accepts all member gender identities.
The women’s group meets on Wednesday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in MAT 354.