Numerous groups around Duke’s campus are focused on fostering gender equity and creating an inclusive environment for students—so many that it often gets confusing to keep up with them. A new initiative by Duke Student Government and the Women’s Center is working to increase communication and collaboration among the organizations. 

Called Think Gender, the group aims to provide a space for dialogue about gender-related issues—including gender bias and violence, sexism and homophobia—and to advocate on behalf those who have experienced gender discrimination. It also works to serve as a portal of campus resources for Duke’s LGBTQ+ and female-identifying students. 

Senior Jacqueline Monetta, director of gender equity for Duke Student Government, worked with current DSG president Riyanka Ganguly, a senior, this past summer to create the initiative. 

“I wanted to open discussion surrounding gender equity on campus,” Monetta said. “Instead of making a new group, I decided that Duke is doing amazing things on this topic, and some groups are doing the same projects and just not knowing about it.” 

The think tank held meetings about once a month last semester, for a total of about four sessions, and will continue this semester, Monetta explained. Representatives from campus groups discuss what projects they are currently working on and how others can help out with them. 

Some of the groups involved in the initiative include the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, Planned Parenthood, Blue Devils United and HeForShe. Monetta is also reaching out to other organizations to increase the project’s scope.

“It’s more about what projects are going on on-campus and how can we help each other to make these projects more successful,” she said. “It was easier for us to all come together and share the conversations.”

Senior Liza Rebold, who founded Duke’s chapter of Planned Parenthood, said that the think tank aims to combine resources to tackle some of the biggest gender problems on campus.

“I think that Think Gender is different just because we have the opportunity to meet with other groups on campus that I wouldn't necessarily have been able to know or meet without this perfect storm of all these forces coming together,” she said. “It broadens my own perspective.” 

Last semester, the think tank worked to get free feminine hygiene products provided in Perkins Library. Monetta explained that Planned Parenthood had wanted to do this for a while and then realized through the group discussions that DSG was working on it as well. 

“There are so many awesome projects being done on campus, it should by no means be something that we’re competing to get attention for,” she said.

The group also examined research being done by students to determine the discrepancy of male to female professors in STEM fields at Duke and is working to bring a speaker to campus to discuss women’s rights or gender fluidity. 

Monetta noted that she is working to include more groups and that any students interested in gender equity are welcome to attend the meetings. 

Think Gender has recently been the subject of articles by conservative publications like The New American, The College Fix and The Daily Caller. 

Raven Clabough from The New American wrote that “Duke University is yet another leftist campus bent on promoting intersectional politics and the notions of ‘oppression’ and ‘victimhood’” in her article about the think tank, including a screenshot of its page on the Student Affairs website. 

However, Monetta said she wasn’t concerned by the criticism. 

“They can say all they want, we’re making Duke a better place,” she said.

Rebold agreed, noting that various groups have different perspective on gender issues. Think Gender is focusing on its own goals and not worrying about others.

“We’re doing good work on campus,” she said. “Our main goal is inclusivity, we have no political objectives. We’re excited about the work that we’re doing.”