Allyship for women in the arts

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Utah Valley University held a ‘Dialogue on Inclusion’ prepared by the inclusion committee within the School of Arts, with speaker Briettny Curtner of UVU Student Affairs. The event was hosted by the Women’s Success Center, and guided participants in a discussion titled “Allyship: Women in the Arts.” 

The intention of this F.O.I. was to educate peers about the meaning of allyship and how to support women in Utah. Curtner guided participants through an open conversation about the disadvantages women face and what we can do to address them. Participants also shared stories of the examples they have witnessed of these disadvantages and shared their thoughts and feelings.  

Curtner related allyship to women in the arts by sharing a story from the New York Times that reported, “In the past decade, only 11 percent of all work acquired by the country’s top museums were women.” 

Women are not only being underrepresented in museums but they are also being paid less, according to a report stating that female freelance artists earn 96 cents for every dollar earned by males. 

An article published last year by the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Utah’s ranked as the worst state for women’s equality for four years in a row. “In Utah, there is this common mindset that women should be at home, while men are in the workforce,” says John-David Sorenson, an academic advisor for the School of Arts at UVU. 

Prioritizing the awareness of subconscious biases and actively recognizing the disadvantages women face can have a significant impact toward social change and equality. 

“In the three years I have worked as an academic advisor in the School of Arts, I have had many female students tell me they need to get the easiest and quickest degree possible so they can be done in time to accompany their male partner to graduate school,” said Kristy Giles, academic advisor for the School of Arts at UVU. “I have never once had a male student tell me the same thing about their female partner.” 

When women are taught that their education is less important than their male counterparts, they can miss out on opportunities for self-development and the pursuit of meaningful accomplishments. It also creates discrepancy and inequality.

To practice allyship, seek to understand your own privilege. Having privilege doesn’t mean you don’t have your own disadvantages and hardships in life. “When talking about privilege, it’s a conversation about others; don’t center yourself,” said Maddy Tarantelli, assistant professor of music at UVU. Recognizing your privileges will make your intentions towards others more productive, helping to overcome marginalization. 

When someone is facing an issue due to a privilege they don’t have, Curtner suggests saying, “What you’re navigating is difficult. How can I help?” Validate and support others, listen and learn. 

“Allyship is homework without a due date, it’s the extra credit that leads to personal growth and development,” said Curtner. By being an ally, we can work toward change for the better within UVU, Utah, the United States, and the world. 

The Dialogue on Inclusion event will be taking place twice more over the semester. The dates and guest speakers have not been announced yet, but more information regarding these events and inclusivity can be found through UVU’s Foundations of Inclusion website.