This month, the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech is sponsoring “Women and Wellness,” a series of programs designed to promote health and wellness.
“There are six sessions over three weeks, all taught by local community members,” said Sharbari Dey, Women’s Center director.
The programs are free and open to anybody, including men, though registration is required. However, Dey said the programs are geared mostly to women faculty and staff members.
Programs in the series include yoga, nutrition counseling, massage therapy and belly dancing.
The center holds a similar program once every semester, and this year’s theme is HealthCARE. CARE stands for consumption, attitudes, relationships and exercise.
Dey said the series is not meant to highlight a lack of wellness among women on campus, but to promote wellness and address the needs of women, needs which she said vary across the campus.
“It depends on whether they are an undergraduate student, a graduate student, a faculty member, anything. The experiences are all unique,” Dey said.
Katrina Powell, director of women’s and gender studies, agreed that women’s experiences differ widely across campus, noting women face issues ranging from safety concerns to sexual harassment to balancing the work and home life.
She said at a technical university such as Tech, some women’s experiences are also shaped by being in predominantly male disciplines, particularly if there are people in those classes who have old-fashioned views of women.
Cynthia Rutherford, director of employee wellness, agreed that Tech’s emphasis on engineering, a predominantly male field, may affect women’s experiences.
“I think the culture you’re in does affect your experience,” Rutherford said. “It is influenced by having a strong focus on engineering, but there are things in place to help women.”
She noted some of these programs aim to help mothers, such as child care centers on campus, which reduce the stress on working mothers who have to balance work and home life.
“They also have nursing mother’s rooms — in fact, any new building or any major renovation is required to have one now,” Rutherford said.
Powell said events such as Women and Wellness are valuable because they directly benefit the women who attend and send out a message to the community that the university cares about its students and employees.
For more information, or to register for an event in the series, go to www.womenscenter.vt.edu/wellness.