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  • Helms Jarrell

Forming a Gender Equity Practice

Recently, Alternate ROOTS asked its members if they would be willing to be Gender Equity Ambassadors during the virtual ROOTS weekend gathering. This inquiry came from the Gender Equity workgroup of ROOTS, which is made up of members and staff. Still learning and wanting to be guided, I said yes to the request. Being a Gender Equity Ambassador would help me put into practice some of the things I believe.


I've been so impressed by the thorough communication and preparation provided by the Gender Equity workgroup. The team has not just asked for volunteers, pointed at a project, and set us off to get to work. Instead, they have spent time and energy to shepherd us through the process.


The Gender Equity workgroup started with education. Their initial request explained what was meant by Gender Equity Ambassadors:


"Being a Gender Ambassador means having some specific roles around reducing gender based harm and caring for the community as a whole as we work to adopt new norms around gender equity. Our team is tasked with:

  • Reminding ROOTers to share their names and pronouns during check ins and in their Zoom/live stream name.

  • Speaking up when someone is misgendered through pronouns, terms of address or endearment, etc.

  • Speaking up when folks default to gendered language like “ladies and gentleman” and “guys,” and offering non-gendered alternatives! (We will provide you with a resource for this purpose!)

  • Being available to take a conversation about any of the above offline/into private chat when it is becoming disruptive to the main session."

Then the workgroup gave clarity about expectations:

"You might be wondering, do I have to do all that all the time? The answer is no! We want you to be able to rest and enjoy the weekend as well. Here’s what kind of time commit, you’d be looking at.

  • Attending a Gender Ambassador orientation

  • Serving as a Gender Ambassador at one session during ROOTS weekend.

  • You are encouraged, but not required to attend the “Deconstructing Gender” workshop."

The workgroup offered support to its volunteers:

"We want to let you know a little bit about how you will be supported in this work.

  • We are working with all session presenters and facilitators to incorporate gender equity practices into their work, and they will all know that Gender Ambassadors will be there to support them as well.

  • The gender equity core will be available to you for any issues that come up, and we also are developing a safety plan around any issue that escalates beyond that.

  • There will be an optional chat for Gender Ambassadors to check in with each other throughout the weekend."

Lastly, the workgroup said "Thank You":

"Thank you for reading, and we really hope you will consider joining up with the gender equity team for ROOTs weekend. The more people who are carrying this work, the stronger it will be. Let us know you're interested by filling out this form, or write back if you have questions!"


I will attend the orientation session next week and will serve as a Gender Ambassador during ROOTS weekend May 14-16 and perhaps again during ROOTS week in August.


I can't say enough how grateful I am to be a part of Alternate ROOTS. My participation in programming and in governance, as a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, has been enriching and inspiring. I look forward to the things I will learn and the ways I will be shaped by the work we are doing together at ROOTS around Gender Equity.




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