Why IWAU? by Dr. Zoë A. Meletis

August 10, 2015

I am a woman, an academic, a mother, and a community member seeking positive change. IWAU is about acknowledging, celebrating, marking, and moving forward together.

I am a tenured professor, but this has taken strength and perseverance. Along the way, I have witnessed (and experienced) inappropriate, inequitable, unacceptable, and unfortunate behaviours towards female scholars, at every level.  The perpetrators are often among those women (& others) should be able to trust. I have faced hurtful and incorrect assumptions about who I am, what I know, and what I am capable of, based on my gender, my appearance, and more recently, being a mother. I have also been sexually assaulted on two campuses. IWAU is about recognizing how much work remains to be done. It is also about acknowledging good work being done, and about taking on more work, collectively.

I have experienced patriarchal oppression at the hands of many, including my own grandmother who asked me, as I continued to complete degrees when I would start my ‘real life’, settle down with a man, and have kids. IWAU is about celebrating diverse forms of success and different paths that are taken. It’s about honouring women’s contributions in spite of barriers and oppressive forces.

I grew up in Montreal. The Montreal Massacre left an indelible mark on me. Years later, a good friend had to grab nearby students and hide with them in her office during ‘another school shooting’ (sic).  A safe day at work/school is not a given. I see IWAU as part of working for a better, fairer, safer, and more supportive world for all. I particularly hope to participate alongside male colleagues during IWAU. Come and celebrate with us during IWAU but, let us also remember, and move forward with genuine support in our hearts.

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