Start A Chapter
Local and regional chapters are defined as a group of three or more sociologists (or persons interested in sociology) who wish to organize under the name "Sociologists for Women in Society". Potential chapters are not limited to geographical locations, but may be formed on the basis of interest common to the members. Be sure to look at the list of existing local and regional chapters to see if there is one that would work for you
How To Start Your Local/Regional Chapter Of SWS
- - We encourage all members of local and regional SWS chapters to also become a member of the international organization. To begin a chapter, a minimum of three members are needed. For a local chapter, there should be at least one coordinator who is a member of the main SWS. For regional chapters, there should be at least three officers, all of whom should be members of the main SWS. A chapter in the initial stages of development may obtain a list of potential local or regional members from the SWS Membership Chair or the Executive Office.
- - In order to be considered an active chapter, regional groups must hold at least one meeting per year and local groups must hold at least per year.
- - Inform the President of SWS and the Membership Chair of the chapter's formation. Include the name and address of a contact person or persons, or the names and addresses of the local or regional officers, which are helpful for future communication between the main SWS and the local/regional chapter.
- - Chapters should send a representative to the Winter Meetings each year. There will be a regular session, hosted by the Membership Committee, specifically for chapter representatives to address issues and share ideas.
- - Chapters should submit an annual report each year at the Winter Meetings. The following information should be in the report: current officers and their contact information, the year's activities, any issues you would like to have addressed or discussed, any funding requests (see below under "funding"). The report should be submitted to the Membership Chair before or during the Winter Meetings.
- - The Membership Committee has a small budget to help support the activities of the chapters. If your group has a special program or speaker coming up, you may make a request for funds, in writing to the Membership Chair, at least 2 weeks prior to the Winter Meeting. The request should state what the funds are being requested for and how much you would like to receive. The Membership Committee will review proposals and award funding at the Winter Meetings. Chapters who receive funds must submit a summary of the event that funds were used to support.
- - Chapter dues are optional. It is up to your chapter to decide if you would like to charge a small fee for dues to help cover expenses. Some chapters do and others do not. Dues are not shared in any way with the main SWS organization.
- Statements - Refrain from issuing statements or taking actions on behalf of the main SWS or action in such a way that statements or actions might be interpreted as coming from SWS itself. Any chapter may issue statements or take actions on its own behalf.
After preliminary meetings between interested persons, usually a general meeting is called to propose the establishment of a local/regional SWS group. If attendees agree, the group elects or appoints various persons to serve as officers or coordinators for the local/regional. Usually at this meeting, the group also decides on local/regional membership dues. Experience has shown that $8.00 to $10 per person generally provides sufficient funds for activities, although it may be different in your region.
At the next meeting, most groups like to start with a major "kick off" event in order to attract more members and to establish the group as important and useful. A noted local/regional speaker may draw a crowd or a panel discussion on some issue crucial to the membership, which will draw people (ie: "Can one have a caareer and a relationship too?" or "Toward a feminist Sociology"). Provision of beverages and munchies also warms things up. Other activities at this and subsequent meetings include:
- How-to workshops: how to write a vita, how to publish, how to prepare for a job interview, how to find a non-academic job, how to conteract sexual harassment on the job, how to obtain a grant, how to write a dissertation, etc.
- Paper presentations and feedback: an SWS member may present a paper (in progress, first draft, final draft) of interest to the membership; discussion and feedback will follow.
- Pot-luck dinners: purely social gatherings for fun and networking.
- Professional issues panels: a range of discussants tackle controversial issues in the profession (ie: does feminist research differ from traditional research methods?).
Many local/regional SWS groups participate in various innovative activities including:
- Organize a telephone tree to quickly inform members about congressional legislation requiring letters, or about new jobs in the area, etc.
- Contribute grants to other feminist groups or causes in the area.
- Send a local representative to other feminist groups in the area to provide mutual help and exchange information on joint projects.
- Bring in special interest speakers on local/regional political issues and discrimination cases,etc.
- Newsletter mailings which include: announcements of upcoming events,new teaching/research/other job availability in the area, items of general interest to the membership, reports on past meetings, etc.
- Sponsor sessions or at least a meeting/hospitality room at regional Sociological conventions for SWS membrers to network.
- The above suggest only some of the many activities in which local/regionalgroups participate. More ideas can be obtained by reading the reports published under "Regional News" in NETWORK, talking to the Membership Chair, or contacting other local/ regional groups.
Available help during the development stages:
A chapter in the initial stage of development may apply for financial assistance from the Chapter Liaison for postage or other purposes. Up to $35 in assistance may be obtained by contacting the Executive Office. (Please save and submit your receipts.)
If your membership is somewhat spread out geographically, it helps to rotate meetings between various key locations. All members of the chapter can then share the burden of traveling a long distance equally, over time. If your group covers an entire region (ie, the South), your membership will probably rely heavily on communication by newsletter. Members also may organize an SWS meeting, social, workshop, paper session, etc. at regional sociology meetings.
If your group is isolated geographically, try to draw members from related social science disciplines (history, anthropology, economics, etc.) — many women in such departments share the same professional and feminist concerns and it will add diversity to the chapter. If your group meets with caution or resistance from other women or from your department, talk to the Membership Chair; she can offer some advice.
If your group wishes to recruit more non-academic sociologists, past experience indicates that contacting such people is more difficult (there are no centralized listings of names and affiliations). A combination of networking (using the contacts with non-academic sociologists already possessed by the group) and phone calling to various agencies will produce a list of names to contact.
Encourage local members to join the main SWS. They will receive access to the members' newsletter Network News, the listserv, and the journal Gender & Society.
Be sure to keep in touch and share information in the Network News. We all benefit from it! Good luck!