Female Students Can Find Support, Empowerment at APU’s Women’s Resource Center

by Naomi Mannino

If you’ve heard of the gender gap, then you know there are differences in the way female students move through this world compared to the way male students do. According to Pew Research Center, women have made significant advances in educational attainment and narrowing the wage gap, but still lag behind men when it comes to holding top leadership positions in both business and government.

Similarly, women may face unique challenges during their time in college. According to M. Elaine Richardson, Psy.D., director of the Office of Women’s Development at Azusa Pacific University, this is why schools across the country are creating women’s resource centers. At APU, the specialized offerings are designed to provide female students with support not only emotionally and physically, but mentally, spiritually, and socially, as well.

Acceptance, Encouragement, Support, and Education

Undergraduates tend to have many different types of needs on campus. Richardson explained that the developmental stage of women in their late teens and early 20s can cause them to face individual challenges and questions that may lead them to seek support.

“One important way we support a female student is after experiencing sexual harassment or sexual assault, and in helping and supporting a friend or roommate going through a similarly difficult time,” noted Richardson.

As women mature, they may also face challenges in how they perceive themselves in the world around them, which can impact their self-esteem, self-image, and sense of belonging. Some may seek support regarding relationships, which could include romantic feelings and couplings, roommates, friends, and family. Others may find themselves questioning the values and beliefs they were raised with, and may need support to work through her new thoughts and feelings.

Additionally, as women age, their needs change. Women in graduate school can experience the same issues as undergraduates—and others, too. They may need specialized support to sustain a healthy work-life balance, account for the impact of studying on marriage and children, and maintain their sense of self while working full-time and attending school. Azusa Pacific University is well aware of this and works to make accommodations that help foster a sense of acceptance and encouragement among women on campus.

“Being in college may lead to exploration of one’s self and increased self-awareness, which, in turn, may propel a female student to seek support in processing the journey,” Richardson said. “So, we want to provide an increased sense of belonging, increased sense of self, and a maturing perspective of life in college and beyond for every female student.”

Connections That Make a Difference

The individuals who comprise the Office of Women’s Development at APU work as a team to offer the most appropriate support and the best possible resources, along with active, empathic listening.

“Our presence throughout campus is not limited to Student Affairs, but includes connections with faculty to provide holistic development for our female students,” explained Richardson. “While our team is always available for any issue, we know the value of referring students to the appropriate outside resources whenever necessary.”

In addition to providing support for female students, the representatives within APU’s Office of Women’s Development uphold their power as change-makers. Both on and off campus, they’re leaders in the progression of women’s issues and gender equality—working to make it a level playing field for all. The office frequently hosts events with guest speakers from on and off campus who share from their leadership, life experience, and expertise to support students along their journey.

Curious to see all the places where students can find academic, social, and emotional support at Azusa Pacific University? Read up on the must-know places around campus that encourage students’ growth throughout their time in college.