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                   CHAPTER 3: Various Views


                         Marti Bombyk

(Special thanks to Elizabeth Axelson, Gloria Klose, Lorraine
Lafata, and Catherine McClary, supervisors of students enrolled in
"Women and the Community" at the University of Michigan, who
provided valuable suggestions for this essay. I also appreciate the
feedback on previous drafts from participants of the Service
Learning Institute.)

When a faculty member starts teaching a service learning course, it
is easy to overlook the significant preparation that must take
place before the course can officially begin. The challenge to
create lectures, exercises, assignments, and discussion topics to
help students analyze (among other things) their placement
experiences, may focus instructor attention on the seminar
component of the course. The seminar component can easily become a
demanding endeavor in itself. Yet, there are several other tasks
related to the placement site and student intern supervision which
the faculty member must fulfill before the term begins in order to
provide a well-run, comprehensive learning program for her

Generating placements for student interns is one of the most
challenging responsibilities for instructors teaching a service
learning course. Like the designing of a course syllabus, the work
takes place before the students arrive for their first class. Only
the final step of this process is visible to the students, the
point where they are given a list of internship possibilities from
which to choose. Though much of the "stage setting" is invisible to
the students, these tasks are fundamental to the whole course
because they provide the platform for launching the students into
the community and the world of work.

From my experience teaching a service learning course, "Women and
the Community," at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and from
constructive suggestions from supervisors who have worked with me
and our students, I have put together some ideas for setting up
placement sites and supporting the supervisor-student relationship.
Hopefully, the procedures and strategies I have found most
effective will be useful to other educators interested in
generating field placements and accredited service learning at
their schools.

         Setting Up Placements: Finding the Intersection

When I develop placement sites, I consider three different sets of
needs and interests: those of the community, those of the placement
sponsors, and those of the students. In this balancing act, my goal
is to find the intersection of these three need sets. (1)

                (figure on page 82 appears here)

               The Community's Needs and Interests

I define the "community" as women who will benefit from the
activities of the student interns. I consider the needs of women in
my local area by taking into account both public identified needs
and needs which have received little or no attention. My knowledge
of identified and unrecognized needs stems from such ordinary daily
experiences as reading newspapers, talking with women about the
concerns of their lives, and walking the streets of my city. As I
consider the needs of local women and placement opportunities which
address those needs, I keep in mind Charlotte Bunch's five criteria
for evaluating feminist reforms (2). Consideration of these
criteria helps me think about the reforms that are needed by women
and the ways in which these reforms should be implemented. Though
any reform will not necessarily meet all five criteria, the greater
a placement approximates one or more criteria, the more confident
I am that it will empower the students as they work to empower
other women:

     1. Does the reform materially improve the lives of women, and 
        if so,which women and how many?

     2. Does it build an individual woman's self-respect, strength 
        and confidence?

     3. Does it give women a sense of power, strength, and        
        imagination as a group and help build structures for      
        further change?

     4. Does it educate women politically, enhancing our ability to 
        criticize and challenge the system in the future?

     5. Does it weaken patriarchal control of society's           
        institutions and help women gain power over them? (pp.    

Organizations which work on relevant issues in ways which
approximate these criteria, and which never oppose them, are more
desirable as placement sites than organizations which do not.
Selecting placement sites is a political act whereby instructors
implicitly endorse the reform goals of those with whom the students
work and learn from in their placements. Because of this, I attempt
to put my "feminist politics in command" by arranging for students
to help women in the community, who are in turn teaching their
interns important skills. In this way, I am able to proudly take
responsibility for the consequences of my work.

The range of reform opportunities in a given locality varies from
city to city. Not every city has a rich feminist infrastructure of
crisis centers, bookstores, legal defense collectives, shelters,
advocacy offices, etc. Fortunately, it isn't necessary to live in
a feminist Utopia to find good placements. Most cities have
organizations which may not be explicitly feminist but which
nonetheless serve feminist goals. Day care centers are an example
of this type of placement site. Most cities, in fact, have too many
organizations which are in need of feminist reforms. Pat Miller at
the University of Connecticut has successfully placed students in
insurance companies with feminist supervisors who teach the
students how to advocate for the women workers and help organize
them. In my view, explicitly feminist organizations are a bonus;
but a good analysis of women's oppression, a sense of strategies
that might help local women, and imagination are the only
prerequisites for developing placements in any city.

          The Placement Sponsors' Needs and Interests

Placement sponsors appreciate the free labor that student interns
supply, but often they impose requirements that student interns
must meet in order to be placed with them. In my course, placement
sponsors have made stipulations which include: good writing skills,
public speaking skills, previous course work or experience in a
particular area, ability to make an extended time commitment (six
months to a year), access to transportation, ability to work
certain shifts, etc.

If an organization seems to be a good potential placement site, I
determine if there are any prerequisites and make note of them. I
include this information in the placement description list I give
students to facilitate the student-placement site matching process
by reducing the risk of misunderstanding, wasted time, and

Finally, I also attempt to discern if a potential placement sponsor
has what I consider to be less-than-honorable motives for wanting
volunteer labor. My particular sensitivity to volunteers replacing
paid employees and volunteer exploitation leads me to make a quick
check of the way the potential sponsor intends to use volunteers
and how they will be treated. I ask if a volunteer program exists
in the organization (a moot question if the entire organization is
volunteer staffed). If they have one, I ask how it is structured
and the effect of the volunteer program on employee morale. I
attempt to determine if there is excessive stratification and
segregation between paid and unpaid workers. If the response to my
questions indicates employee replacement or unfair practices toward
volunteers, I reject the possibility of placing student interns at
that site. 

                  The Students' Needs and Interests

Since student interns are highly dependent on the placement
organization for their educational experience, I consider the
ability of the placement site to meet the following criteria:

     1. Is there an individual at the placement site who will     
        willingly assume the responsibility of providing          
        supervision for the student interns? At a minimum, adequate 
        supervision consists of the supervisor's readiness to share 
        skills and have routine contact with the student interns.

     2. What work will the interns be asked to do and what skills 
        can they acquire? If challenging work is not provided,    
        interns will not be able to develop new skills. Though work 
        considered mundane, boring, or repetitive, (e.g., typing, 
        filing, collating, stapling) is not easy to avoid, I feel 
        it is essential that the proportion of time during which an 
        intern engages in such work not exceed the proportion of  
        time during which she will have exposure to new tasks and 
        be involved in planning and decision-making.

     3. Will the placement provide training for the student       
        interns? If a placement site wants relatively unskilled   
        interns to perform difficult and responsible tasks (e.g., 
        counseling a rape victim), it must provide the intern with 
        the expertise to do the job effectively.

     4. How flexible is the placement for allowing individualized 
        job descriptions? I assess this dimension because students 
        want to know how much an internship with a placement      
        sponsor can be individually tailored to their personal    

     5. How stable is the placement site organization? This       
        criterion is important because a placement site governed by 
        crises can place too much stress on both supervisors and  
        student interns. New organizations are not necessarily    
        "unstable." As long as an organization has adequate       
        resources and realistic goals, it can usually provide     
        students with a secure work place environment. I am       
        primarily concerned with avoiding placements where        
        "organizational craziness" is the norm because I have found 
        that these contexts teach students how not to do a feminist 
        reform. Such truncation of experience is never satisfying 
        for my students.

                    Negotiating the Placements

With my criteria in mind for how I will find the intersection of
the community's, placement sponsors', and student interns' needs,
I begin contacting potential placement sponsors to negotiate
placements. I find this phase of the work to be the most enjoyable
because it allows me to exercise and expand my professional and
personal network. Sometimes I am able to discover a new placement
site that gives me the reassuring and recurring pleasure in knowing
that "we are everywhere!"

My goal in this phase is to create as many placement opportunities
as possible in the time available. My motto is "the more, the
better" because student preferential differences can be better
accommodated with more placement opportunities and because with
many opportunities, I can be more selective when I narrow down and
finalize my placement description list.

I have generated placement leads from reading women's referral
guides, brochures, and handouts available at special events and in
university and community offices. I've looked in the telephone
book, especially under "W" for women's organizations and services.
I've talked with colleagues, students, and friends who are
affiliated with organizations which might meet my criteria.
Especially helpful have been conversations with community activists
who provide me with oral "Who's Who" directories of individuals and
organizations working on feminist reforms. I have also contacted
the local chapters of national organizations such as the National
Organization of Women and the National Abortion Rights Action
League. Not only can these chapters serve as placement sites, they
can also refer me to other promising organizations.

With each contact and confirmed placement, I always ask if they
know someone else who could sponsor placements and if I can use the
individual's name as a referral source. I continue to network until
all leads have been exhausted or until I begin to get a sense of
diminishing returns (it takes more and more effort to negotiate
each placement).

My goals during each contact are:

     1. To give necessary information about the course and its    
        methods so that interest can be generated in sponsoring a 
        placement and so that, once interested, the site has a    
        sense of what will be expected of them if they sponsor an 

     2. To explore the degree to which the potential placement    
        satisfies criteria I have developed for deciding whether an 
        organization is suitable as a placement site.

     3. To determine supervisor/organizational receptivity to     
        sponsoring a placement.

     4. To gather basic information about what a placement with an 
        organization would involve, the names, phone numbers, and 
        addresses of people students should contact, and any      
        prerequisites the organization has.

When I talk with potential placement sponsors, I've found it
helpful to be friendly and not too aggressive about getting an
immediate commitment from the organization. The format I tend to
adopt in my "sales pitch" is to tell the person my name, my
position at the university, how I got their name, general goals and
methods of the course I teach and why I thought their organization
might be suitable for and interested in sponsoring interns. I might
give an example of other organizations which have agreed to sponsor
interns and the kind of work the placements with them will entail.
I let the person on the phone have time to think and I encourage
her or him to ask questions. I offer to call back if they need time
to check with others in the organization before they make a

Once they decide to offer a placement, I attempt to clarify the
nature of the relationship between myself, the students, and the
placement site. I let them know what the next steps are, for
example, when they can expect interested students to begin
contacting them for interviews and setting up the placement. I also
tell them that if students decide to work with them (leaving open
the possibility that though they may offer a placement, no student
might actually choose it), I will send a handout to the intern's
supervisor that describes in more detail how the course will work
and what can be expected throughout the semester. I point out to
them that in their interviews with prospective student interns,
they have the right to tactfully reject a student if they don't
feel the relationship would be viable.

With the final list of placement sponsors generated, I turn my
attention to preparing a lengthy description of all the placement
opportunities to handout to students on the first day of class.

          Preparing Students for their Placements

On the first day of class I give my students a course description,
a syllabus, and the placement description list. The focus of the
first session is on the placements though we also take time to
review the syllabus, course requirements, and to introduce
ourselves to each other. I go over the placements with them and
answer questions about the field work and how placements can be
structured. Their assignment for the first week is:

     1. Consider your goals for taking the course. Think of what  
        you want from the course as you look over the placement   
        opportunities. Do you want work experience in your        
        preferred field? Do you want to explore a new field to see 
        if you might choose it as an occupation? Do you need      
        particular skills? Is there a feminist issue that arouses 
        your anger that you want to do something about to help    

     2. Select two or three placement offerings to explore based on 
        your goals and interests. Contact the preferred placements 
        using information provided in the placement description   
        lists. Arrange an in person interview (if possible, or at a 
        minimum, a telephone interview) with the placement sponsor 
        and attempt to finalize your placement choice by the next 

I tell the students that both they and the placement sponsors have
the right to reject each other if either party considers the match
as problematic. Students are fearful of being rejected so I try to
assure them that if it does happen, it isn't the end of the world
and that it is probably better to be turned down and find a
different placement than to work somewhere where they don't feel
welcome or appreciated. It's useful to conceptualize the process of
finding a placement as similar to the process of looking for a job.
They go through the want ads, prioritize their preferences, arrange
an interview, find out if they are wanted, and, if there are two or
more offers, they get to choose where they think they will be
happiest working. Likewise, if they are turned down for a
placement, the experience resembles being turned down for a job (a
difficult yet common experience we all have to learn to deal with
sooner or later). However, I have found it unusual for students to
be rejected if prerequisites have been made clear; their interest
in and enthusiasm for these self-selected preferences make a good
match between the student and the placement site probable.

After their interviews, students should make arrangements for
finding out if they are accepted by the placement sponsor, they
should make their decisions on where they want to work, and they
should make arrangements for their first session at the placement
site. Most students are successful in arranging their placement in
one week, even if they require individual consultation with me by
telephone or in office hours. Undoubtedly, though, there are always
a few students who have not, for various legitimate reasons,
arranged their placement by the second week of class. For this
reason, I do not begin the seminar component of the course until
the third week.

For the second class session, we continue to get to know each other
and I work on building group cohesiveness to set the stage for the
seminar component of the course. One exercise I use for the second
week both builds group cohesiveness for the seminar and further
prepares the students to begin their placements. I use this
exercise after we have gone around the room reminding each other of
our names and reporting on whether their placement has been chosen,
if so, where it is and, if not, what options they are still
exploring, etc.

I call this exercise "My Greatest Fear." It works like this: Divide
the class into groups of five or six, and if there is space, have
the groups go to separate rooms after the exercise is described. I
tell the students to take out a scrap of paper and jot down,
anonymously, their greatest fear (no matter how irrational) about
working as an intern or at the particular placement they have
chosen. When they are settled in their groups and have written down
their greatest fears, I go to each group, collect the folded
papers, mix them, and then let each student in the group draw
someone else's greatest fear. Then, taking turns, each student
(except those who were so confident they couldn't write down a
single fear) draws someone else's greatest fear. Taking turns, each
student reads aloud the anonymous statement. Sometimes the
idiosyncracy of it gives the writer's identity away, but secrecy is
not a big issue. Then the reader addresses the fear by providing
some reassuring advice on how to view the problem, how to redefine
it, how to handle it, etc. When the reader finishes, other students
can join in and share their insights and suggestions for dealing
with that fear. I avoid participating unless the advice (it's
happened only once) was exceptionally superficial and did not
respond to the writer's dilemma. It is important that I do not
participate so the students learn to talk to each other and to
respect each other's knowledge and contributions. And so, each
student will have, by the end of the exercise, some suggestions for
dealing with her fear and will also have experienced her own
competency by coming up with some concrete advice to help another.
I have found the quality of the advice be considerate, wise, and
practical. The students learn a lot from hearing others' concerns,
some of which might have been their second or third greatest fear.
At the end of the exercise, anxiety is greatly diminished,
self-esteem is bolstered, and the students feel cared for and
caring towards each other.

By the third week virtually all the students are placed into
organizations and many have worked there at least once. The seminar
begins with the topic of volunteerism. We discuss assigned readings
and I give them the following journal assignment to help sensitize
them to the various feminist perspectives on volunteerism and to
help them realize that their volunteer relationship to their
placement is a two-way proposition involving give and take for both

     Critically analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the 1973
     N.O.W. position on volunteerism (3). Next, analyze your role
     as a volunteer with regard to <1> its compatibility with the
     N.O.W. position, <2> what benefits you will gain by
     volunteering, <3> what costs or losses you will incur by
     volunteering, <4> what your placement site gains from your
     volunteerism, and <5> what are the costs to the placement site
     for having you work with them.

Finally, I tell the students to negotiate a job description with
their supervisor in the next two weeks and I give them written
guidelines. Supervisors also receive job description guidelines in
the handout they are sent. I emphasize the importance of clear
expectations and open communication. I remind them that the
supervisor is in that role in order to teach them skills and to
help them, so they should always try to discuss problems with her
as they arise.

For the remainder of the term. I focus my efforts primarily on the
seminar component of the course. I have individual appointments
with each student twice during the semester. I also attempt to call
each supervisor at least once during the semester to check on how
things are going with the student interns.


The placements I have generated and my procedures for supporting
the supervisor-student intern relationship have helped me run a
smooth course which both placement sites and student interns have
enjoyed. My intention is that this description of my approach will
facilitate the work of others who are setting up a service learning
course at their institutions.

Though a considerable amount of time is needed to prepare students
and supervisors, the time spent will help spare everyone a
considerable amount of frustration and resentment. In the long run,
advance preparation and planning makes everyone's work easier and
more satisfying.


1. Alana Smart, National Center for Service Learning. Presentation 
   at NWSA/FIPSE "Project to Improve Service Learning in Women's  
   Studies" Institute, March 1930.

2. Bunch, Charlotte. "The Reform Tool Kit," Quest 1 (1), 1974,    

3. N.O.W. Task Force on Volunteerism, November 1973. Ms., February 
   1975, P. 73


                       Format for a
                 Field Supervisor Manual

I am including here an outline that abstracts the types of
information instructors might include in a handout or manual
adapted for the specific type of course they teach. The furnishing
of written materials is important for several reasons:

     1. It provides a permanent reference that can be consulted   
        anytime without the supervisor having to contact the      

     2. Supervisors need certain information in order to fulfill  
        their basic responsibilities, e.g., what criteria they will 
        use to evaluate the students' work.

     3. The more information about what the internship is and how 
        it can work, the better prepared supervisors are for giving 
        interns worthwhile experiences.

     4. It indicates that you are seriously committed to giving the 
        students quality education.

Before discussing the content of the handout or manual, a word
about "packaging" is in order. The information instructors provide
is best taken when it is written, organized, and typed in a
readable form that avoids academic jargon. Ideally, we want
supervisors to read the whole piece in their spare (???) time. The
handout should be reproduced as a clean, dark copy and, if
possible, put in a folder of some sort to protect it. Be sure to
prepare enough copies for each supervisor (only one is needed even
if they have more than one intern) and make extras in case some get
lost. Keep the original copy for simplified updating and revising
in the future.

The following outline can be adapted to the particular needs of the
instructor, depending on the nature of the course, the number of
supervisors, and time and resources available. I have attempted to
be comprehensive, though different parts may be more relevant for
different instructors:

I.  Title Page: title of handout, name of course, instructor's    
    name, office address, and phone number(s).

II. Table of Contents: include appendices titles and page         
    numbers, if any.

III. Course Description

     A. Goals and pedagogical philosophy of feminist experiential 
        education. (You might also include here a brief description 
        of your women's studies program for people who may not be 
        familiar with its purpose and functions).

     B. How the Course Works

        1. Placement: types and criteria for selection
        2. Seminar: sample topics, time and place                
        3. Instructor-student contact: frequency of individual    
           appointments, etc.

     C. Student Requirements

        1. Number of hours per week in placement
        2. Course grading system, including the type of placement 
           evaluations and the weight of the placement evaluations 
           in the students' final grades

     D. Calendar

        1. When students begin and end work
        2. Due dates for assignments that might involve additional 
           supervisory time, e.g., discussing with the student the 
           history of the organization.

     E. Reference to Appendices: you might include the following:
        1. Course syllabus
        2. Copy of evaluation forms supervisor will receive and be
           asked to complete
        3. Copy of any assignments that might require additional  
           supervisory-student interaction

IV. The Supervisor-Intern Relationship

     A. Describe the process of how students get matched with     
        placements, including interviews and the supervisors' right 
        to reject students who might not be suited to the         

     B. Describe the supervisors' responsibility to orient the    
        student to the placement, including:

        1. Goals and purpose of organization
        2. General way the organization works, e.g., who does what, 
           why, when, and how.
        3. Organizational policies and rules which will apply to  
           interns, e.g., confidentiality of clients, washing out 
           their used coffee cups.
        4. If possible, the supervisor might prepare a handout that 
           covers the major points the student needs to know about 
           the organization. This could be used over again for    
           future interns to help streamline the orientation      

     C. Describe the responsibility of the supervisors to negotiate 
        a job description and written agreement that explicates   
        both parties' rights and responsibilities, including:

        1. Type of training and dates, length of period.
        2. Specific tasks they will do, including how much clerical 
        3. Frequency of meetings with interns.
        4. Expected time commitments and days/hours the student   
           will work.
        5. Date(s) the job description will be reviewed and       
           revised, if necessary (e.g., half-way point).
        6. The days the student will be on vacation and what      
           procedures they should follow if they are unable to make 
           it to work when expected.
        7. Other concerns they may have that they would like      

     D. Emphasize the importance of open communication with the   
        student that can be informal and "on the run" as well as  
        formal. Supervisors should attempt to create a            
        non-threatening and supportive relationship so that       
        students will feel comfortable initiating discussions with 
        them about their concerns, mistakes, frustrations,        
        observations, etc.

     E. Discuss the need for supervisors to be sensitive and      
        respectful of individual differences among students--some 
        will be assertive and self-directing, others will be shy  
        and need more structure, etc.

     F. Discuss the students' needs for constructive feedback and 
        thanks for the work they do.

     G. Reiterate how important the supervisor is in providing a  
        role model for the students. The interns will be affected 
        by their attitudes toward their work and the organization, 
        their values, how they deal with other co-workers, etc. The 
        placement offers the students a stepping stone in the     
        formation and attainment of their career goals and through 
        it they will be socialized into the world of working with 
        others. They are trying to acquire practical skills that  
        will help them get and keep jobs and, hopefully, make a   
        contribution to the improvement of other women's lives. The 
        supervisor needs to be conscious that she is being a      
        teacher and has the power to empower her interns.

V. The Supervisor-Instructor Relationship

     A. How often they can expect you to initiate contact with them 
        to see how things are going.

     B. Discuss how the relationship is designed to benefit both  
        the students and the supervisors/organizations. When the  
        costs outweigh the benefits, it is essential that problems 
        be addressed together and an effort made to solve them.   
        They should contact you if any problem arises (before it  
        becomes catastrophic) and assure them that you are willing 
        to do what you can to solve the problem, mediate, etc.

     C. Benefits the supervisor might receive if any. For example, 
        can supervisors get some staff privileges through your    
        university such as a library card? If material rewards are 
        not possible to offer (and it is often the case that they 
        aren't), you might discuss how the contact provided with  
        the internship can be used to further their organizational 
        or personal goals,e.g., the women's studies program can   
        announce and help advertise events sponsored by the       
        placement, or job openings in the organization. The program 
        might be able to provide referrals, contacts, and         
        information to the organization. The program could offer  
        support in times of crisis, e.g., letters of endorsement, 
        petition signatures, fundraising help. You might so arrange 
        that announcements or flyers from the women's studies     
        office be sent to the supervisors so that they will know  
        about speakers the program is bringing, classes being     
        offered, etc.

     D. Give sincere and appreciative thanks to the supervisor and 
        the organization for participating in the internship.  


If the supervisor will be working with more than one student, recommend that 
they arrange such discussions in groups to save time. Or one student can share 
her information with the others.

                  THE INTERNSHIP PROGRAM 
                       AT WEAL FUND
                      Maxine Forman

"I wish it were felt that women who are labouring especially for
women are not one-sided or selfish...We care for the evils
affecting women most of all because they react upon the whole
society, and abstract from the common good."
                                 Josephine E. Butler, ed.,        
                                 Introduction, Woman's Work and   
                                 Woman's Culture, 1896

The Women's Equity Action League Educational and Legal Defense Fund
in Washington, D.C. is a non-profit tax-exempt organization whose
goal is to secure legal and economic rights for women by conducting
educational and research projects, by monitoring the implementation
and enforcement of laws prohibiting sex discrimination, and by
supporting significant legal cases. The intern program of WEAL
Fund, sponsored by the Ford Foundation in 1976, invites students
and other individuals to work with us for a period of several
months to see, first hand, the kind of work a women's rights
organization does. As auxiliary workers, interns help the Fund
fulfill its goals while they learn about the administration and
staffing of an organization, improve their research and writing
skills, increase their understanding of women's issues and
feminism, acquire work experience, and gain new perspectives on the
process of social change.

Since 1976 approximately 180 interns from throughout the nation,
ranging in age from 15 to 70, have participated in the program. The
majority are voluntary interns who receive $4 a day to help defray
the costs of volunteering; some receive academic credit from their
university or college as well. Voluntary interns spend two-thirds
of their time on a research project and the remainder on
administrative and clerical duties. The administrative internship,
a paid position, is usually reserved for an older woman returning
to the work force; she spends the major portion of her time on
administrative and clerical tasks, and a smaller portion on a
special project. The legal internship, also a paid position, is
offered to a second or third year law student who helps the staff
provide information and referral services to those requesting it,
assists in the preparation of materials informing women of their
rights, updates and maintains the docket of legal cases supported
by WEAL Fund and assists in efforts to monitor regulatory

                  Who Are the Interns?

"Interns are more trouble than they're worth." No doubt you have
heard that statement at least once. I have said it myself at times
when there was unusual pressure to produce under rigid and
difficult deadlines. In such instances one would like interns to be
better than bright, have extensive work experience, possess top
notch research and writing skills, require no supervision, type
65-100 words per minute and ask few questions--in short, to
function like competent and experienced staff members. And
sometimes we are pleasantly surprised.

But common sense dictates that few individuals seeking experiential
learning opportunities have such qualifications. Fortunately, WEAL
Fund's philosophy and flexibility allow staff to choose some
interns who may have more energy than experience and more
commitment than skills. Although we give priority to individuals
who have leadership potential, research and writing skills, and
background in women's issues, we select interns who come from
various educational experiences and backgrounds, with not only
different levels of skills but also varying levels of commitment to
the women's movement. We subscribe to the notion that if one
scratches a woman one will discover a feminist underneath, and
structure interviews with an eye (or shall I say a finger nail)
toward discovery. For example, while some applicants are
experienced feminists and advocates, others are simply enthusiastic
learners with good skills who think that the concerns of women can
be reduced to "equal pay for equal work." Sometimes an applicant
will emphasize that she herself has never experienced sex
discrimination, but then goes on to reveal, unwittingly, instances
in which she was in fact a victim of sex bias. In such cases we
usually welcome the opportunity to raise a consciousness, offer the
internship and make special efforts to provide the intern with
every chance to learn how sex bias and discrimination operate. As
one might expect, these individuals are often more profoundly
affected by the internship than those who came with a feminist

Most of WEAL Fund interns are students, but some are career
changers, women returning to the work force, job hunters or retired
people. Their academic and employment backgrounds span fields from
music to psychiatric nursing; their goals range from making a
contribution to society to seeking a different perspective on work
to gaining recent job experience and new data for a 10-year-old
resume. What WEAL Fund interns have in common, however, is the
ability to communicate their interest in women's rights and the
Fund's work, a desire to improve their present skills and learn new
ones, the ability to write concisely and clearly or the desire to
develop this skill, the willingness to commit 15-35 hours a week
over a three month period and, most importantly, the potential to
use this experience to promote positive change in their own lives
and communities, or on their campuses.

                Learning and Making a Contribution

The intern program is an integral part of WEAL Fund. After a two
day orientation led by the staff, interns select an investigative
project in one of WEAL Fund's areas of concern. These include
educational policy, employment discrimination, women and sports,
women in the military, women's access to fellowships and training
and the economic problems of older women. Under the supervision of
a staff member interns do basic research for developing and
updating kits and publications, learn to respond to requests for
information, and assist staff members in project and administrative

The supervisor meets periodically with the intern to review project
work and to revise, if necessary, the job description and its goals
and objectives, both of which were jointly developed during the
first week. WEAL Fund views the supervisor as a facilitator who can
help bring the research project to life by explaining its rationale
and potential, and who can help the intern use there sources of the
Fund as well as of other organizations and agencies in the
Washington, D.C. area. Although project deadlines and meeting times
are mutually agreed upon by intern and the supervisor, the intern
sets her own priorities and manages her time so that she can
complete her project work and also take advantage of other
opportunities the program offers. These include brown-bag lunches
on women's issues with invited guest speakers as well as out-side
meetings, hearings and conferences. Attending these events provides
opportunities for interns to gain knowledge and to understand how
strategies are developed, how decisions are made and how leadership
styles differ. For example, interns attending a meeting at the
Pentagon could observe the leader of a coalition of women's
organizations change the rules at a briefing in which coalition
members were supposed to sit passively and listen to information
prepared for them, a singular lesson in both leadership and
assertiveness. Similarly, an intern accompanying a staff member to
meetings of the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education
broadens her understanding of educational equity issues, group
dynamics and strategies for changing policies.

It is somewhat unrealistic to work with an organization for a brief
period of time and expect to make a substantial contribution to its
work. Nevertheless, this is the expectation of many interns. We try
to emphasize that contributions are made in many different ways.
Initiating a new project, building upon, or completing one already
developed, are all ways to contribute. In each case, staff members
help the intern structure a project that can be completed within a
short time, with the understanding that the resulting product may
or may not be published, but will be used as the basis for further
work on the issue. Examples of past intern projects include:

     - developing a brief paper on women and social security and  
       analyzing proposals for reform;

     - researching the status of women in higher education and    
       updating WEAL Fund's paper, Facts on Women in Higher 

     - developing comments on equal opportunity guidelines set    
       forth by the National Endowment for the Arts;

     - developing and publicizing a brief report which focused    
       attention on the employment of women scientists and
       engineers at 50 leading colleges and universities;

     - reviewing stacks of Title IX complaints submitted to the   
       United States Office for Civil Rights to assess the quality 
       of their resolution (a joint project with the National     
       Education Association);

     - analyzing public comments on proposed Title IX Athletic    
       Guidelines to determine public sentiment (a joint project  
       with the National Advisory Council on Women's Educational  

     - collecting, preserving and making available for study the  
       personal papers of Black women, the records of Black women's 
       organizations and other materials documenting the history of 
       Black women in the U.S. (a joint project with the National 
       Archives for Black Women's History);

     - developing a paper on women, registration and the draft for 
       inclusion in WEAL Fund's Women and the Military kit;

     - developing a paper on financial aid opportunities for older 
       women who are seeking education and training to reenter the 
       work force;

     - researching the status of women as fellowship winners and  
       review panelists at the National Endowments for the Arts and 
       the Humanities as well as at other fellowship programs; and

     - assisting WEAL Fund's SPRINT project staff in research and 
       answering requests for information on Title IX and sports.

In addition to work on an individual project, each intern
contributes to the organization as Intern of the Day, spending a
portion of her time every week assisting staff members with typing
labels, xeroxing, collating, filing or preparing mailings. This
assignment gives the intern a glimpse into the importance of
"women's work" as well as insight into the concept of equal pay for
work of equal value.

Recently staff and interns found an unexpected opportunity to make
a contribution to the Fund. In less than a week's time, they
planned and executed a large reception to honor Elizabeth Janeway
on the publication of her new book, Powers of the Weak. Without the
help of interns in developing mailing lists, preparing invitations,
making follow-up phone calls to invitees, contacting the press, and
hosting the reception itself, the event probably would not have
been the success that it was.

                 What the Interns Take with Them

While each of the 180 individuals has had a different experience,
discussions with interns reveal a number of recurring themes.
First, interns are impressed by the organization's struggle simply
to stay alive, both financially and ideologically, at a time when
funding is scarce and the country is leaning toward conservatism;
proposal writing, direct mail campaigns and other fund-raising
activities rarely fit into an intern's prior conceptions of the
work of a women's organization. Second, interns are amazed at the
amount of nitty-gritty support activities necessary to maintain a
productive, visible organization; they learn that stuffing
envelopes, typing, xeroxing, filing, recording contributions and
sending out thank-you notes, and sorting and routing mail--simply
managing an office and staff efficiently--are critical tasks.
Third, interns begin to develop an understanding of the legislative
and regulatory process, as well as an appreciation of how slowly
goes the process of change; so many interns come to Washington in
awe of the power of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), e.g., and
leave in awe of the power and persistence of the groups who exert
pressure on OCR to enforce anti-discrimination legislation that has
been so long in coming and is in such constant danger of being
eroded. Fourth, and perhaps most significant: many interns
emphasize that they never before had the opportunity to work so
closely with women, especially in an all women's organization where
they are in a position of authority. Interns take with them a
healthy respect for the power that results from the information
sharing, networking and strategizing that are so much a part of the
way  Washington women's organizations have an impact on public    

One concern, however, that is often expressed by interns is how
they will react to the sexism they will undoubtedly encounter when
they return to their campuses or to a job which is not concerned
with feminist issues. Some fear they will find it difficult to
handle; they had lost touch with the "real world" feeling protected
in an organization staffed almost entirely with women whose primary
goal at work, and often during leisure time, is to secure equal
rights for women. They wonder if they will be able to change
conservative attitudes. Other interns, however, feel strengthened
by the support they found in the experience. They leave WEAL Fund
armed with new documentation, facts, statistics, and ideas--ready to
wage battle with any and all enemies of the cause--or at least
eager to engage a skeptic in animated debate. In any event, interns
find the experience a valuable one. A former intern expressed it

     I realize that having interns can sometimes be disruptive to
     a functioning staff, but am glad that you feel the
     inconvenience is worth the effort. Working at WEAL Fund has
     raised my expectations of myself. Time and effort are
     conducive to achievement. Thank you for a very valuable
     learning experience.


                 I. THE INVISIBLE WOMEN

                     Carolyn Mulford

(This article originally appeared in "Synergist", Journal of
ACTION's National Student Volunteer Program, Spring 1980, Vol. 9,
No. 1, and is reprinted with permission.)

As the police car turned into the alley a figure hunched down
behind an open garbage can.
  "Pull over, Susie," said the passenger to his partner. "I just
saw one of the bag ladies at the back of that restaurant. She'll
freeze if she stays out on a night like this."
  "Let me handle it," said Susie as she stopped the police car.   
  "She's more likely to listen to another woman." She stepped out
and called, "Got a problem, lady?"
  Clasping the garbage can for support, a woman on the far side of
middle age pulled herself up. "Just out for a walk," she said with
dignity. "Thought you were some hoodlums. That's why I hid."
  "It's pretty cold tonight, almost zero with the wind factor.
We'll give you a ride home."
  "Thank you, but I need the exercise." She shivered.
  "I can't leave you here," the officer said gently but firmly. 
  "I ain't breaking no law."
  "It's got nothing to do with the law. You haven't got any place
to go, have you?"
  "I'm no vagrant. I've worked all my life," said the woman
proudly. Her voice faltered. "I just don't see how this could
happen to me."
  The officer opened the back door. "Come on, we'll take you - "
  "Not the crazy house!" cried the woman, shrinking back.
  "Course not. It's a place where you'll be warm and welcome, but
you'll have to work." She took the woman by the arm and propelled
her to the car. "They'll help you get back on your feet."
  A few minutes later Susie drove up to an old brick school
  "This is it, the Madison Center, part of the House of Ruth."

                     * * * * * * * * * *

The night resident finished binding the young mother's two broken
ribs. Glancing at the two preschool youngsters and baby asleep in
one chair, he asked softly, "What do you plan to do now? Will you
call the police?"

The woman shook her head. "It was just an accident. I fell

"I suppose you got those bruises on your cheek from running into a
door last week. Mrs. Smith, these beatings will get worse. You must
do something to protect yourself - and your children."

She gulped. "What can I do? I have no family within 1,000 miles, no
friends who live where he couldn't find me, no money. I left the
house in my gown after he fell asleep because I couldn't stand the
pain any more." She wiped away tears. "You tell me where I can find
food and shelter for me and my children with no money, no job, not
even any work experience. I've barely got the cab fare to get back

"There's a place I know about. We refer someone like you to them
two or three times a month. You get dressed while a nurse makes a
phone call."

Half an hour later, the woman gave her last cent to the cab driver
who had taken her to a large, somewhat decrepit house on a side
street in an inner city neighborhood.

He didn't growl about the smallness of the tip. Instead he said,
"Good luck, lady. You listen to them folks in there. This shelter
is supposed to be secret, but you aren't the first woman and kids
I brought here in the middle of the night. Lots of folks got
trouble bad as yours, and the House of Ruth helps them - long as
they are ready to help themselves."

                  * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Seven blocks from the Capitol, a car moved slowly down busy
Massachusetts Avenue in the early morning rush hour. The driver
pulled over, jumped out of the car, ran around it, and took two
large suitcases from the back seat. He opened the front door. "Come
on, Mother. Get out."
  "I want to go home."
  "You can't. We're leaving for Hawaii in three hours and we won't
be back for two weeks. Now get out!"
  "I can stay by myself." 
  "And start another fire? The whole house could have burned down
without you waking up." He sighed. "It's not a nursing home or a
hospital." He reached around her thin shoulder and tugged her from
the car. "Doris found out all about the House of Ruth when she gave
them that bunch of old clothes. It's a nice place."
  She clung to him. "It's for people who've got nobody."
  He jerked away. "I'll check on you in a month."
  She sank on to a suitcase as the car sped away. She didn't move
until a young woman came out of a huge old brick house and
approached her. The old woman stood up. "I have no son. I have
nobody. But I can still knit."
  The younger woman picked up a suitcase.


Scenes like the preceding occur daily throughout the nation, but
frequently penniless, battered, and unwanted women have no shelter
to go to.

The House of Ruth grew out of the recognition of the unmet needs of
a growing number (currently about 5,000) of homeless and destitute
women in Washington, D.C. Founded four years ago by a former
sociology professor, the House of Ruth is a nonprofit organization
that provides shelter and sustenance, support and counseling,
referral and information to women who have no other source of
assistance. Its three sections are the headquarters and residence
(capacity: 35), the Madison Center (capacity: 65), and the shelter
for battered women and their children (capacity: 12). Reflecting
the District's population pattern, approximately 80 percent of
those who come to the House of Ruth are black.

Students, from grade school to graduate school, have contributed
significantly to the shelters' operation from the beginning.

A brief history of the House of Ruth illustrates the pragmatic
philosophy underpinning its operation, the need and potential for
replication by small but determined bands in other parts of the
country, and the suitability of such shelters for service-learning
experiences for students of all ages and interests.

It began in the early 1970's when Veronica Maz, a Georgetown
University sociology professor, helped organize a soup kitchen
called So Others Might Eat (SOME). She soon saw that homeless men
had places to go at night, but such charitable institutions as the
Salvation Army and gospel missions had few places for women. The
women who came to the soup kitchen spent the night in the parks,
the railway station, the bus station, doorways, unlocked cars,
wherever they could find a spot. To most of the population, and to
virtually all the social service agencies, they were invisible.
Caught in an increasingly vicious cycle of dirt and dissolution,
most found it harder and harder to combat the causes that had
started the downswing.

The women were of all ages, races, religions, and social classes.
They had an infinite number of stories to tell - an expensive car
repair while moving somewhere to take a new job, the death of a
breadwinner after a bank-breaking illness, eviction leaving them
with no place to live, flight from an abusive relative or mate,
release from a public hospital or from jail, computer or
bureaucratic foul-ups delaying retirement, unemployment, or public
assistance checks. For some women, the problem was short term, its
solution awaiting the arrival of assistance from family or friends.
They simply had to survive a few days. For others, the problem
dominated the future as well as the present, its solution not even

The women had in common immediate basic needs - food, shelter,
friendship. In large part they were the victims of a changing
society in which family and friends cannot be taken for granted, in
which caring for the unfortunate is seen as a public rather than a
personal concern.

Committing all her time, Dr. Maz organized Shalom House, which had
a capacity of nine. She recalls, "That is where we learned from
practical experience that we needed a larger place. You have to
start with a small place to get the experience."

The next step was to search for a bigger house. Dr. Maz walked the
streets of the inner city looking for something suitable. She saw
"For Sale" on an old tourist home midway between the train station
and the bus station (two favorite hangouts of the homeless) and
knocked on the door. The owner told her she would rent her the
house for $440 a month. At the time Dr. Maz had $1, but she raised
the $440 from individuals in less than two weeks. She moved in with
12 women who had been living in a nearby park - and had to find
food for the next meal. And they did, by going to individuals,
Catholic nuns who had some leftovers, and a Safeway manager with
food that would have been thrown away.


The former tourist home became the House of Ruth and remains its
head-quarters as well as a shelter. Its name is derived from the
Biblical story of Ruth, a young widow who supported herself and her
widowed mother-in-law by gathering the grain missed by harvesters.
Dr. Maz is a gleaner par excellence, it is part of her philosophy
and her mode of operation, and she believes that others can start
shelters by adapting her techniques.

One of her basic tenets is: "You always deal with individuals, not
with groups. You can deal with a group after you are organized and
established. Groups deal with groups." Another is: "Start with what
you have. You don't need enough money for a year to open a shelter.
After all, you don't wait until you've saved a year's rent to lease
an apartment." Still another: "You start in their community. The
ghetto has its own communication system. People tell people. If we
started giving sandwiches out - which we wouldn't do - at 10:15, by
noon we would have 200 people in line."

Giving things away is not part of the House of Ruth philosophy.
Those who come to it share the responsibility for the shelter -
cooking cleaning, maintenance - and must take action, in so far as
they are capable, to find a home, a job, a training program, or
whatever assistance they need. Those who do nothing because they
are unwilling to exert any effort find themselves back in the park.
Those who do nothing because they are unable to function are
referred to the proper agency and receive assistance in getting
that agency to take action. Everyone must obey certain basic rules,
such as no drinking or drugs, no coming in after 11 p.m. curfew,
and no violence. The police not only bring women to the House of
Ruth but also take them away.

Before the House of Ruth accepts a woman, a screener determines
that she has no other alternatives - family or friends or public
assistance. At head-quarters and Madison Center, the women have
three days to work out a plan of action with the social workers and
counselors. This may mean applying for a training program, public
assistance, or a job; contacting relatives or friends who could
provide cash or a place to live; entering a drug abuse program; or
anything else that may lead to self-sufficiency. While waiting for
responses (which may require weeks rather than days) the women help
operate the shelter and participate in its numerous activities -
workshops, physical examinations, counseling.

Improving personal hygiene and appearance frequently are the first
priorities for the homeless. Hot showers, delousing, and clean
clothes - donated by the community or made to order by residents or
volunteers - improve both the self-image and the reception given
the women by social service agencies or potential employers.

The battered women with children have different priorities and
problems. They face possible bodily harm and may be taking criminal
or civil action against husbands. They also must support -
emotionally and financially - others as well as themselves.
Currently, the shelter for these women permits them to stay up to
a month, though the social worker in charge, Cookie Wheeler, hopes
to extend the residential period to six weeks. She also attaches
great importance to continuing assistance after they leave and
advocates establishing second-stage housing for small groups of
former shelter residents so that they may be mutually supportive.

All the shelters continue to be a resource for those who have come
and gone, and the Madison Center is striving to become a genuine
multiservice center for the women of the surrounding low-income


The aim of all the assistance given - by staff composed mostly of
social workers and former destitute women, by student and community
volunteers, by the residents - is to enable the individual to meet
her needs. Dr. Maz says, "Homeless and destitute women are people
no one wants. They are lonely, so you have to deal with loneliness.
If you don't deal with this, you cannot do anything. Having dealt
with the loneliness, our goal is to help her find some sort of
economic security and comfortable housing."

Wheeler makes a similar statement about the battered woman with
children. "She needs someone to get irate with her, to be on her
side, to unload to, to teach her to trust again, to go out to lunch
with away from the kids, just to be there."

Because of the necessity of one-to-one attention to emotional needs
and only slightly less intensive attention to economic security,
student and community volunteers' involvement is essential. The
volunteers function as part of the House, not as aloof angels of
mercy or as detached observers.

In discussing two Georgetown University students who were spending
the summer gathering statistics on the homeless and abused, Dr. Maz
commented, "If they are going to do research, they have to be part
of the woodwork. They do everything, such as going to the hospital
with a woman on a bus. You talk to people as you do things with
them. Immediately you get involved in service here because it's all
we are. It is our philosophy that it is a work-oriented program,
people helping people. We need friends, not psychiatrists."

Services are personal, not institutional. One graduate student
began her service-learning experience by managing the laundry room
and talking informally (mostly listening) to the women who came
there. With this experience to lean on and to break down her own
shyness, she became an official counselor to whom the women would
be directed. And they still came to her informally.

The residents receive support from others in everything they do to
put their lives in order. This ranges from having a high school
student's hand to hold at free dental clinic to having a law
student whisper encouragement at a hearing charging a husband with
assault and battery.

Dr. Maz is enthusiastic about all students' participation, but she
feels children have something special to offer - an unbiased view
of the residents. When she first moved into the former tourist
home, her gleanings included a class of seventh graders ready and
willing to help with the clean-up and modest decorating. They
worked alongside the residents, relating to them easily. "They
dealt more with the women than the college students do because they
are not afraid of them. The college students see themselves apart
from the homeless and destitute. Because they are educated, they
think it could not happen to them, but the younger ones see the
person as a totality."

Generally students rather than teachers initiate the involvement.
The former sociology professor says, "Professors still teach in a
vacuum. The problem is that most professors don't have any
experience in this area at all, and few understand that students
need a formalized structure for their learning experience."

The House of Ruth provides some of this structure - a training and
orientation program, supervision, introduction to all facets of the
operation. For students and professors who request it, staff
members also prepare evaluations, advise on and provide material
for papers, give conference time and counseling.

The director of the shelter for battered women with children
remembers the importance to her of her service-learning experience.
"I was panting to get out of the classroom. What made it exciting
for me was not the teacher, although she was encouraging and
accommodating, but the social worker and the freedom she allowed

Most of Wheeler's supervisory experiences are positive, though
students receive higher marks than the professors. Examples of
student contributions to the shelter for battered women include:

- Students from Walt Whitman High School, Bethesda, Maryland,
surveying rental agencies to determine who would accept women with
children and women on public assistance;

- A Senior majoring in government at Mt. Vernon College acting as
advocate for women seeking Medicaid, trying to get their children
into day care centers, applying for public assistance (Wheeler
says, "She was aghast at seeing how the government operates. As the
result of having been here she knows much more about what she wants
to do in government.");

- A (Capuchin) seminarian from Washington Theological Union
counseling children he termed "blatantly violent" and battered
mothers who tended to be in turn seductive, motherly, and finally

- Antioch Law School second- and third-year students acting as
victim advocates (Wheeler points out, "When the case goes to the
grand jury, he comes in with an entourage, but she has not told a
soul. She has not told her brothers because she is afraid they
would kill him. She has not told her friends because she could not
face them. Without an advocate from here, she goes alone.");

- Students in the Social Action Program of the Stone Ridge Country
Day School of the Sacred Heart, Rockville, Maryland, caring for the

Wheeler would like to have students to assist in a multitude of
other ways, including planning menus and buying or obtaining food,
picking out the better dresses from those contributed for the
thrift shop and setting up a designer thrift shop; advising on
starting small business or cottage industry; setting up
second-stage housing for residents who have left the shelter;
repairing and maintaining the house; writing and designing
publications explaining the program; fund raising or soliciting
contributions of goods from businesses.


At any one time more than a dozen students from almost that many
schools and colleges are likely to be working four to twenty hours
a week for academic credit at the House of Ruth. Most seem to be
attracted by the prospect of helping battered women rather than the
homeless and destitute - the invisible (and less glamorous) people.
Awareness changes attitudes, however, and few express regret that
their experience is with a group for which, initially, they have
little empathy. Even graduate students with some life experience to
draw upon often express wonder at their own naivete in dealing with
the women and the social service agencies ostensibly serving them.
Students go through a form of culture shock, and many survive it
determined to come back as seasoned volunteers when their formal
obligation ends. Many speak with sadness of women who have lied to
them, manipulated them, become their friends, and then disappeared.
Happy endings cannot be taken for granted.

The experiences of two students illustrate the diversity of
backgrounds of students who have served successfully at the House
of Ruth and the depth of the learning experience both had.

Last spring Julia Pistor, a senior at the exclusive Georgetown Day
High School, had to choose a project to which she would devote full
time for six weeks. She considered using the time to write poetry,
but she felt she needed to become acquainted with people she had
not encountered in her sheltered life in the white, affluent part
of the capital. She went to work at the Madison Center as a staff

A poised, quietly self-confident young woman, she recalls, "I found
it very frightening that first day. I left wishing I wasn't there
because I felt I was inept, that the women really resented me, did
not like me. Now I realize they were just looking at me to see who
I was. I went back because I wanted to do it, and I knew first days
are often horrible. After my third day I really enjoyed it."

Among the women she remembers most clearly: a vendor who could not
understand how it could happen that she would not have a place to
stay; a woman who accused Dr. Maz of trying to murder her,
threatened violence, and had to be sent to the public mental
hospital; a woman who claimed (falsely) to have lost her Dutch
passport and would speak to no one except Julia but left suddenly
without saying goodby; a woman who found both an apartment and a
job so she could have her son with her; a 17-year-old girl who had
nowhere to go.

Julia answered phones and the door (both screening processes), did
intakes (filling out forms, calming the women down, orienting
them), gave workshops on creative writing and hygiene, escorted
women to social service agencies, offered ideas for job hunting,
and listened. She says, "The House tries to let me do everything.
I became part of the staff."

To her surprise and delight, she formed some strong friendships.
She ended on a note of optimism: "I used to be cynical about being
upper middle class. These women are not cynical or bitter, and I am
less so."

A part-time graduate student in criminology at the University of
Maryland, College Park, and a full-time credit counselor, Teresa
Gilchrist grew up in the ghetto neighborhood where one of the three
House of Ruth shelters now is located. She wanted to contribute to
her old neighborhood and found the chance through a women's studies
course with a service-learning component. She thought nothing could
surprise her.

The first day there she saw a lot of familiar faces, women that she
had gone to school with as a child. It brought tears to her eyes to
see what had happened in their lives, to see the "thin line between
volunteers and residents."

Working as a counselor, she has found herself listening to women
from all walks of life, from the very educated to those who never
got out of elementary school. Many are simply "down on their luck."
She found that each one had to be dealt with in a different way. A
registered nurse whose mother was dying of cancer "needed a place
to stay rather than counseling." She left when she received word of
her mother's death. A 17-year-old woman who was five months
pregnant rejected advice to go to a home for unwed mothers because
she feared it would take her baby from her.

Counseling sometimes required her to expand her knowledge, as when
a young mother just released from the public mental hospital asked
her help in finding out how to get custody of her infant son again.

Gilchrist gives the House of Ruth high marks as both a service and
learning experience, though she thinks that some of the volunteers
get more from the homeless than they are able to give.


The staff members of the House of Ruth are quick to point out that
the nation's capital is not the only place where shelters are
needed. The problem affects urban and rural areas, prosperous and
impoverished communities. Often government funds are not
forthcoming, at least in the beginning. The House of Ruth has
established sufficient community support that it now receives
limited funding from the District's Department of Human Resources
and rents the Madison Center, once an elementary school, from the
city for $1 a year.

Dr. Maz believes her tactics can be successful in many other
places. She is working with groups in several cities and welcomes
students (and others) who wish to come work with the House of Ruth
- no one simply observes - to learn how it operates. As she says in
describing how she learned to start a shelter for the homeless and
destitute, "I had been a student and I had been a professor. I
started applying all those things I had learned about basic
psychology and sociology."


Address inquiries to House of Ruth, 459 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.,
Washington, D. C. 20001.

                      II. RAISES NOT ROSES

                          Ellen Cassedy

A group of employees from a small Boston publishing company called
the 9 to 5 Organization for Women Office Workers' complaining that
the women were earning salaries well below the posted minimum of
their salary range and that men received longer vacations and
better pensions. A Hampshire College sociology major interning at
9 to 5 helped them meet off company premises for a brainstorming
session, researched laws on discrimination and overtime, prepared
a written summary of their grievances and recommendations for
change, and rehearsed them for a meeting with management in which
they eloquently presented their case.

They won higher salaries, better benefits, an end to sex
discrimination in policies, and the right to meet regularly with
management to discuss future problems.

This is just one example of how students who will soon be joining
the work force and women workers with job problems are teaming up
through the Working Women Organizing Project in cities across the
country. As they attack widespread issues of unequal pay, lack of
fair promotional opportunity for women, and disrespect for working
women, student and employee learn a great deal from one another.

Organizing among office workers--who make up fully one third of the
female work force nation wide--began in Boston and Chicago in 1973,
spread to Cleveland, San Francisco, New York, and Dayton two years
later, and now involves Hartford, Washington, Philadelphia,
Cincinnati, and many other cities. Such organizations as 9 to 5
(Boston), Cleveland Women Working, and Women Organized for
Employment (San Francisco) quickly find an eager constituency which
has never before had a vehicle for its concerns. Neither trade
unions, government anti-discrimination agencies, nor management
policies have ever protected the rapidly growing clerical work
force from low pay and other discriminatory practices.

Through organizing, working women are learning to build support
systems within their companies, mounting public pressure against
discriminatory employers and improving the responsiveness of
government anti-discrimination agencies.

The working women's organizations represent the beginning of what
seems likely to be a massive organizing effort within the next
decade. The white collar industries are an unorganized enclave that
is unlikely to remain unorganized for long. But because the effort
is only beginning, and because serious issues of livelihood are
involved, the organizing is slow and cautious. Tactics which are
second nature in community action organizations are out of the
question when the target is not just a government official--he's
the man who could fire you from your job.

Students have carried out projects essential to the work of these
organizations both in the initial stages and after the organization
has established itself. In the Boston area, for example, 9 to 5 has
worked with students from Boston University, Simmons College, the
University of Massachusetts, Harvard Divinity School, Hampshire
College, Yale University, Suffolk Law School, and Antioch College.
All of the students received course credit for their work.
Supervision was handled jointly by 9 to 5's staff director and
university instructors.

High school students also have volunteered, usually after school or
during the summer, and have contributed substantially.

Several aspects of the organizing make student participation
particularly useful. One of these is the need for flexible
schedules. Unlike members of some women's advocacy organizations or
community action groups, office workers are not at all flexible
about their time. They are trapped at their desks from 9 until 5
and often have family responsibilities after work.

While the organizations must have spokeswomen who are of the
constituency, they also need an auxiliary staff which is available
during the day to do a large variety of organizing and research

Because it is a new movement, the concepts are clear and simple
enough for newcomers to understand--and must be kept so. The focus
is on practical action and results, on reaching a very broad range
of people, on constant outreach, on stirring things up and starting
office grapevines one by one by one. It's an endless amount of
work, and it is simple to orient people to it.

Because of the great fear of firing--a justified fear--and women's
traditional fear of speaking up, working women do not tend to act
militantly unless they are very sure they are right. Their
employers tell them not to discuss their salaries with their
co-workers. Affirmative action plans are kept locked in the personnel office.

It's a rare worker who understands the Civil Rights Act or the
National Labor Relations Act. Can your employer pay you one salary
and the woman right next to you another? Can you be fired for
refusing to make coffee for your boss? Is your salary fair?

A great need exists for facts, statistical research, and legal
information. As future employees, students have this need as much
as current employees, and it is an excellent legal education for
them to compile this information for working women.

A note on attitude: Community organizing history is littered with
stories of the bright college student who walked into the ghetto,
or the rural town, or the factory, and tried to tell the people
what to do to improve their lives.

We tell students who work with us not to let their own
preconceptions color their interactions with working women. Their
own view of what people should be able to do about their job
problems is probably unrealistic. Their own view about what is
bothersome about a clerical job may well be off the mark for most
office workers. Don't assume that the woman you are interviewing
finds typing boring just because you do. Don't expect to be the
spokeswoman for working women--instead, give them the support they
need to speak for themselves.

We also give students a great deal of supervision in their first
contact with working women to make sure they absorb these points.
We see our students go through a rapid education process which
involves a growing respect for working women and their concerns.

The benefits to the student are many. Even minimal contact with the
exigencies of a campaign gives them a taste of advocacy organizing.
They learn to work with a great variety of people and to assess
their needs and interests quickly and objectively. They learn to
analyze a social problem, such as unequal pay scales, and think
about who can solve that problem, who will ally to press for the
solution, who will resist the solution. They learn what goes into
deciding upon a level of militancy and how to pace a campaign so
that its beneficiaries don't drop out. They learn how important it
is to pay attention to detail in organizing and advocacy work. One
lost membership card, one misplaced word, will have repercussions.
Quick, thorough follow-up with people who may have attended the
first meeting of their lives can be invaluable.

Students also gain a thorough knowledge of the job market and job
rights. This makes up for a very unfortunate gap in secondary and
post-secondary education. Women entering the work force rarely
understand the structure of the industries they select
from--insurance, banking, publishing.etc. They don't know how to go
about setting good career goals, or what kind of company will
support them in this.

Students who work with working women's organizations become some of
the best educated new employees ever to hit the job market.

In setting up a working women's organization, the first job--one
student volunteers can do admirably--is to get the facts about the
"problem." Are working women in your city discriminated against?
It's easy to find out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Several students spend a week in the library comparing men's to
women's pay, finding out how many women are the sole support of
their household, seeing what the differences (if any) are in the
educational background of women and men.

Other students pound the sidewalks looking for the largest
employers, the common gathering points for working women, the most
busy transit exits. They visit the Chamber of Commerce and compile
a comprehensive picture of the economy of their town. They visit
the Women's Bureau of the U. S. Department of Labor, or write away
for publications on women workers. They compile a fact sheet on
working women in their city. At this point, they know more than the
average citizen about how their town works.

High school students are capable of doing much of this work,
preferably as a class project with close cooperation between the
teacher and the organization's staff. The organization could
outline the project and direct students to sources while the
teacher does most of the day-to-day supervision.

The next step is to contact the constituency. How do working women
feel about their work? It's not easy to reach working people on job
issues. Stand on a busy street corner some morning at 8:55 and try
to imagine how you would go about getting to talk to these
preoccupied, hurrying people.

That's exactly what students from Harvard Divinity School did as
part of a credited field education project. Working with 9 to 5 eight
hours a week, they were soon leafletting before and after work
with issues questionnaires to be mailed to the organization.
(Statistically, a return of as low as one percent is good.) At
lunch they walked through the city doing street surveys. They
visited high school business courses to inform women who were about
to enter the work force.

High school volunteers could do most of these tasks--if allowed out
at lunch and during the day.

All this street work would be unnecessary if women were able to
walk into offices or company cafeterias and organize openly. Those
days are yet to come.

High school or college volunteers can compile the results of the
questionnaire. Then the organization has some information to convey
to those respondents who signed their questionnaires. In doing this
college students or the organization's staff can begin one-on-one
lunch time interviews--the heart of the organizing in the early

Even college students need a good deal of supervision in this
phase, and I do not recommend that high school volunteers attempt
this. We counsel students to be personable, supportive, and to
listen carefully to what the women are telling them rather than
trying to instruct the workers or tell them what to do. That part
comes later.

After students discuss their interviews with each other and with
experienced staff and decide on a course of action, they can be
more directive in their interviews.

From the interviews come some women who are interested in sharing
the work of building the organization. The next step may be a
public meeting to bring the issue out into the open, provide a
place to bring recruits, legitimize the cause, and teach some
lessons about legal rights.

It is vital for working women to understand their legal rights
before taking action against an employer. College volunteers can
play a major role in educating them. For example, under independent
study, two University of Massachusetts women's studies students
planned a legal rights workshop for women working in universities.

The students visited government agencies for handouts on the laws
prohibiting sex discrimination, governing overtime, and covering
the right to organize. They called the American Bar Association for
specialists in sex discrimination cases and labor law and found two
lawyers to make short presentations.

They then set to work translating the government publications into
simpler language, and illustrated their legal fact sheet with
examples culled from the questionnaires that had come in.

They involved the interested women they had met at lunch in
planning questions to ask the lawyers, drawing up a sex
discrimination quiz, baking refreshments, and recruiting friends
and co-workers by word of mouth.

A staff supervisor showed the students how to lay out a leaflet to
be posted on campus bulletin boards, and they mapped out a plan for
covering the several colleges in the area. They knew some
secretaries from their own campus and also knew which offices it
was easy to walk into and which were off limits to passers-by.

The result was an excellent workshop. It helped to launch several
on-campus groups of office workers who went on to win improved
policies. For the students, the result was a first-rate knowledge
of organizing techniques that can be applied to any advocacy group,
political campaign, or service organization; a thorough knowledge
of employment rights; and insight into the situation of working

This legal rights workshop, and others like it in other industries,
set the stage for visits to government agencies to learn their
functions (and eventually file charges against discriminatory
companies), sessions on how to build support among co-workers,
assertiveness training workshops, and a one-page newsletter
highlighting job problems that had surfaced in the legal rights
workshop. This was distributed monthly as an ongoing outreach tool,
recruiting additional members and prompting policy reforms at the
companies targeted. Students were involved in every stage.

These early stages are duplicated in the formation of every working
women's organization. As the organization becomes more established,
other creative uses of students' talents become possible. Below are
some examples.

Harvard Divinity School students prepared a travelling show on
working women's concerns and presented it to church groups after
Sunday services throughout one semester. The working women among
the parishioners they reached not only became members of 9 to 5 but
also set up an ongoing support network for themselves through their

During National Secretaries Week (the last week in April)
kindhearted boses reward their secretaries with a bouquet of roses
in return for a year's worth of uncompensated overtime, substandard
salary, and lack of recognition. Since the rise of the working
women's movement, women have sounded the slogan "Raises, Not
Roses," held public hearings on the rights of working women, won
the endorsement of mayors and city councils, and turned the tables
on employers by rewarding them for their job performance.

A Boston University communications major did a two-month project on
the theme of National Secretaries Week. She prepared a fact sheet
on the pay and status of working women in Boston offices, added
spirited quotations from 9 to 5's officers, and sent the packet to
every news source in the Boston area.

She followed up with phone calls and succeeded in scheduling radio,
newspaper, and TV interviews featuring secretaries eager to talk
about the rights they felt they deserved along with their bouquets.
The student also prepared a flyer on speaking to the press for use
by the women recruited to be interviewed.

Meanwhile, other students distributed rose buttons and job issues
questionnaires asking office workers to evaluate their companies
according to a Bill of Rights (see page 11) drawn up by 9 to 5. With
the results of this street survey, the organization targeted
particular job problems, prepared an assertiveness training
workshop for working women, and identified particular companies and
groups of working women who were interested in pressing for

By writing to the Department of Labor, 9 to 5 learned that a major
bank's equal employment policies were about to be reviewed by
federal investigators in connection with the bank's federal
contracts. A team of student volunteers set out to maximize
employee participation in the review, to guarantee its accuracy,
and thereby to prompt improvements.

For one week the students surveyed employees as they came to work.
The results showed that the bank was falling down on job posting,
job training, and accurate job descriptions for equal employment
issues relevant to the up-coming government review.

The students followed up with in-depth one-on-one lunch time
interviews with survey respondents. Students and employees prepared
a report and met with the government investigators to present an
invaluable picture of how women and minorities really fared at the

Improvements in job training and benefits for clerical workers
resulted. In addition, employees and students received quite an
education in their legal rights and in employer policies that work
for and against these rights.

For a senior honors project, students from Simmons College did the
design work on a 9 to 5 publication called "Working Women's Buying

Five sociology majors launched a career counseling and job bank
service. They read materials on job interviews, including
information on what questions a prospective employer may not
legally ask a job applicant. They made charts of career ladders in
several industries, researching the subject by interviewing 9 to 5
members and by making appointments with personnel officers at major
companies. They made arrangements to receive job opening bulletins
from large employers and to call others weekly for this

Then they submitted articles to community newspapers announcing the
new service. They soon began receiving both applications and
requests from employers. The women using the service got a far more
accurate picture of the job market than they would have at the
average employment agency because of the educational materials on
hand. Needless to say, the students themselves had become expert
job-finders as well.

High School students could maintain a job bank for high school
seniors. They would go through many of the same procedures the
college volunteers did, possibly in cooperation with the school's
guidance department.

For the most part, secretaries and file clerks did not participate
in the women's liberation marches of the 1960's. They did not learn
karate or enroll in women's studies courses, by and large. Yet the
ideas of women's equality, equal pay for equal work, and fair
treatment for working women have had a profound impact throughout
American society. With economic pressures propelling more and more
women into the work force and the inflation making their meager
salaries worth less every year, an urgent need for change has hit
the female job ghetto.

Students can contribute greatly to making that change, and in doing
so serve their own interests.

The Working Women Organizing Project coordinates joint campaigns
among the working women's organizations and helps spread the model
of the established groups to any new city where there is a show of
interest and sufficient resources to launch such a project. High
school or college students who want to learn about the
possibilities of establishing an organization in their area may
request information and advice from the Working Women Organizing
Project at either: 1258 Euclid Avenue, Room 206, Cleveland, Ohio
44115, (216) 566-8511 or 140 Clarendon Street, Boston,
Massachusetts 02116, (617) 536-6003.


     Lizette Bartholdi, Laurie Bushbaum, Debra Horn, Denise
     Johnson, Kimberly M. Reynolds-Heiam, Karen Theiler, Robin

This paper was composed by the students in the first field learning
seminar offered by the Women's Studies Program at the University of
Minnesota, under the direction of Cheri Register. Each of the
students earned four credits for one quarter of work on an

Laurie worked at an organization that was set up to record the
history of and promote traditional women's work. She transcribed
taped oral histories and prepared for the grand opening of an
office, exhibition area and consignment shop.

Debbie worked as an administrative intern in the Minnesota Women's
Center organizing the center's resource files for eventual

Kimberly worked with Twin Cities NOW drawing up information on
women's suffrage and the ERA for presentation to high school
classes and for a radio program.

Lizette worked at a shelter for battered women doing phone
counseling and referral.

Robin started a consciousness-raising group in her neighborhood.
She and seven other women explored women's issues in our society
for an eight week session.

Denise worked with a senior social worker in child protection,
exploring aspects of the social services through field work,
seminars and interviews with professionals in various areas of
social services.

Karen worked with WAVAW (Women Against Violence Against Women) on
an educational project on violence, pornography and rape

   How and Why Did We Make the Decision to Do an Internship?

For all of us, the desire for an educational experience outside of
the classroom and/or university was a major determining factor in
deciding to do an internship. Women's studies, by nature, affects
all aspects of our lives, and by doing an internship we hoped to
focus on our particular interests in a non-academic setting. The
other major reason that we chose to participate in an internship
was to explore how feminism and women's issues coincide with the
"working world." Some of us are graduating this year and used our
internship to test out job possibilities for the future. As
Kimberly said, "An internship provides a vehicle to combine
academics and `real world' experience. It is an excellent way to
test one's interests." For Robin, an internship was an opportunity
to "cast about for things you've always wanted to try."

    What is Involved in Preparing for an Internship
              and Choosing an Agency?

Many of us entered our internships without first critically
evaluating our own expectations and needs as interns. An internship
is more time consuming and demanding than we first realized; our
level of commitment was crucial to our overall experience. A lot of
our expectations were too high and had to be revised. Even though
we were committed to our internships, they were substituted for
only one class and we began to realize the time limitations of a
short-term internship.

One mistake that some of us made was to over-emphasize our
responsibilities to our agency. It is important to remember that an
internship is to benefit both the intern and the agency. We would
have had more "successful" internships had we clarified, before we
started, our attitudes and needs about work. Laurie voiced her
experience with her internship by saying, "One of the most
important lessons I learned in my internship is that the structure
of an organization, such as its work environment and work patterns,
is equally as important to me as the purpose of the organization.
I realized that I work best in an open, communicative environment
but also one that is very organized and task-oriented, that works
at a fast, but efficient pace. I assumed that because I would be
working in a feminist organization, everyone would work together
well and I would fit right in. But, just because an organization is
feminist doesn't mean that everyone involved will have the same
ideas about the work environment."

          How Do You Write a Contract and What
            Do You Take into Consideration?

In some instances, contracts are not necessary. Robin, for example,
worked alone; she was her own supervisor and evaluator. She was
pleased with this arrangement. Some of us who did have contracts
with our agencies experienced problems. We included in our
contracts information about work schedules, general duties,
responsibilities, and interests, but in some areas lacked
specificity. We often ran into unforeseen problems such as being
assigned tasks that we really did not want to do. To overcome this
problem, Denise suggested that the contract not be written until
the second or third week of the internship. We think this would
have prevented us from blindly committing ourselves before we had
a realistic direction within our agencies.

The biggest mistake Lizette and Laurie made in their contracts was
not providing for adequate supervision and evaluation. We found it
to be terribly frustrating not to have one specific person as a
supervisor or a specific time to meet with her. Lizette expressed
this frustration about supervision at her agency by saying, "If I
had worked with one other staff member closely I know I would have
learned more of what goes on at the shelter and I would have had
more of a place there. My problem was I didn't know whom to ask
questions of. I never saw the same people twice. I now feel that
this should have told me something. No one knew what my work was
there, so it was all up to me. I strongly feel now I should have
asked a staff person to schedule time to work with me so I would
have had a sense of continuity and someone I felt at ease with
asking questions."

Laurie found problems of evaluation at her internship. She

     The one thing I wish I would have paid more attention to in my
     contract is the process of evaluation. I allowed for my
     supervisor and the other staff members to evaluate me at the
     end of the internship, but I did not foresee the need for me
     to evaluate in return. I think it would be a good idea to
     write into contracts a brief weekly mutual evaluation. That
     way, problems or questions can be taken care of before they
     get too big. It could have made it easier for me to make my
     feelings known. I would have had a set time to do that rather
     than having to initiate a confrontation.

That was not experienced by everyone, though. Denise had a very
positive system of evaluation. She added, "Meeting with my
supervisor was the most helpful tool in meeting my goals. I would
make appointments with her, with her encouragement, for about an
hour a week in which we could discuss my internship from my point
of view. We would discuss what I wanted to be doing, and she would
show me her case load and possibilities of where I could
participate with her clients." By meeting periodically one had a
chance to re-evaluate the goals or change the scope of the

            How Does One Sustain Interest,
              Enthusiasm and Commitment?

Commitment came easy because we chose projects that we had been
meaning to work on before the internship opportunity, or ones which
would be testing grounds for jobs after college. Once the project
has been chosen, the problem of discipline arises. One suggestion
made by Denise was setting up a time schedule for working on a
week-to-week basis. A time schedule affords personal discretion in
a busy school week. She also suggested, "...talking about one's
internship may help the motivation to continue--that's where a
support group helps." We found that ta]king with others about
problems and successes in a seminar setting provides a means of
support and review of a project. A supervisor who can oversee and
answer questions or provide personal support also helps, since some
of us relate better in a one-to-one situation than in a group

Karen used her contract as a means of disciplining herself.
"Discipline was easy for me since I attended a weekly meeting with
WAVAW about community safety as well as a weekly seminar with other
interns. In this way I could set up specific weekly goals with my
supervisor and review what I had accomplished each week in the

          What Do You Do with Emotional Build-Up
               or "Burn Out" on a Project?

Emotional build-up or "burn out" seemed to occur at different times
for reasons as unique as each intern. One of the more common
origins of "burn out" was a feeling of powerlessness while working
with people who lack the means or will to change their situations,
such as battered women and abused children. Others included
personality conflicts and incompatible goals in a group situation.
To avoid such problems or to cope with the emotional aspects of
each internship, we tried methods ranging from physical activity to
using one's right to say "no." Robin suggested handling the problem
of "burn out" by "spacing yourself so that you don't work too
steadily at the project but instead take little vacations from it.
Get away from it for a better perspective. Because I live very near
all the women in my Consciousness Raising group, I sometimes need
to leave responsibility for continuing CR sessions day and night.
I get away from it by working on projects for other classes, by
going to my job, and sometimes just saying I don't have time to
talk right now." Lizette related, "Weekly seminars helped to
relieve some anxious feelings in a supportive environment. For some
an ongoing journal would help, just somewhere to vent those burning
ideas and problems. Another thing that helped me was riding my
bike." We explored different alternatives for venting the emotional
build-up or even making positive use of it. Karen added, "Another
answer to emotional build-up is humor. I don't take myself so
seriously that problems get to me. `Burn out' is good sometimes
just to make you aware that your energy is limited and must be used
to its best advantage. One way to deal with this is allowing
distance from a project in order to redirect your time and energy."

          What Techniques Do You Use to Analyze
        and Abstract from the Internship Experience?

As a group there was a fairly consistent consensus that a
combination of reading and discussion with other people, whether in
a formal seminar setting or informally with friends, helped clarify
what we were doing and learning in the internships. Journals did
not prove to be helpful to everyone. We all agreed that some people
are journal writers and some are not. We felt that the option of a
journal should be left up to each individual. The reading proved to
be thought and emotion-provoking for several of us. Karen said,
"Reading accounts of rape and brutality were too much for me,
especially after hearing of experiences within our group. I found
that I could only read one article a week because I became too
furious." And Kimberly commented, "The reading material sustained
my interest and activated my motivation. I was dealing with the
long struggle of women in history. The history of discrimination
provided fuel for a fire that burns so naturally inside of me."
Thoughts and ideas from the internship, discussion and reading were
brought up at our weekly seminar. We felt that having a consistent
format for discussion helped us understand our purposes and
expectations better.

           How Can You Use Your Internship as a Step
          from Being a Student to Not Being a Student?

The transition from student to non-student was seen differently by
each of us. As Karen said, "I do not see myself as moving from one
point to the other. I consider myself a person working and learning
as best I can wherever I am." Most of us found that the internships
provided us with valuable real world experience that traditional
university classes lack. Internships allowed us to employ our
skills and, test our interest in areas of possible employment.
Denise pointed out that an internship could be very valuable on a
person's resume when one begins looking for a job. For all of us,
internships provided a look at our creativity, self-discipline and
personal interests. Kimberly said, "I would recommend choosing an
internship that requires you to be at a certain place at a specific
time, if you are unsure about your level of self-discipline. This
allows you to assess what your abilities are and allows time to
gradually improve them."

      How Do You Carry Knowledge Back and Forth from Reading
             and the Classroom to Your Internship?

Our experiences with women's studies courses involve a lot of
reflecting and processing of information. Women's studies courses
attempt to deal with real life situations, not just academic
questions. The internship was a good bridge for testing our
academic learning outside the institution. We felt that outside
reading and classroom discussions were interrelated with the
internships. Robin said, "Ideas I bring from my group tie into the
work I'm doing in the classroom and to my past women's studies
classes. There are issues common to all women such as how much do
biological differences have to do with sexism and what happened to
women's history?" The discussions in our weekly seminar were
helpful for Karen: "The classroom experience was great to question
some of the things I was doing. It forced me to define terms to
others and made the programs clearer in my mind. I also received
second opinions as to whether others thought the program was
effective or not, which was useful."

           How Do You Remain True to Your Values? How Does
            the Internship Test Your Definition of These?

We all chose internships we felt would broaden our feminist
ideologies. Denise stated, "The internship provides an opportunity
to test our feminist ideologies to see if they hold up outside the
classroom. It may change for one may discover the real world is
different than pictured from a distance. Lizette encountered an
ethical dilemma: "When there were staff problems at the shelter I
didn't know if I'd be betraying the staff or not if I spoke to
residents at the shelter about the conflicts." For Robin, "...the
only way my internship tested my definition of feminism was when I
had to be quiet and accept as reality women who said they were
happy with what I considered to be truly oppressive ways of living.
I had to decide that it was unfeminist of me to screech my beliefs
at other women."

             How Do You Know When You're Done?

Most of us will continue our internship projects in some way. If
the internship part was to be over at the end of the quarter, this
condition was set up in the contract stating exactly how long we
would each spend with the people or agency involved. It was
important to us to wrap up the project and to get feedback from the
person or persons we were working with. Denise had a two hour
discussion with her supervisor about her experiences and what was
learned from them. A promise to continue with the relationship on
a non-professional basis was a nice end to the internship. Robin
and her CR group spent the last of eight sessions wrapping up ideas
discussed throughout the quarter with a pot luck lunch afterwards.

The internship may be finished for a number of reasons, the
termination of the quarter, the accomplishment of goals or the
expectations of the contract met. Kim felt that "I knew when I
finished because I had attained a satisfactory number of my
expectations that I had laid out at the beginning of the project."

      How Do You Get Out or Continue On with the Internship
                  Once the Quarter is Over?

Debbie felt it is important to have in mind a vision of the end
when starting. She thinks of the internship as being on a
continuum: "Where I leave off someone else will be ready to take
over. From the beginning then, I think that it is important not to
be possessive about your project. When it is over you have to be
ready to evaluate and leave it or stay on in another capacity."

Continuing on when the internship is completed may be done by
changing the role from an intern to a volunteer. Debbie may
continue on as a volunteer worker at the Women's Center. Denise
will change her relationship with one of her clients from that of
social worker to that of a volunteer big sister. Robin hopes to
continue on with the CR group but without taking total
responsibility for the running of the group. She also hopes to use
her communication skills developed in her internship in some area
of counseling women, possibly in a feminist organization.

       How Do You Decide What You Have Learned
           and What is Most Important?

Self-measurement is a primary tool used by all of us in evaluating
our internships. Kim thought "if one learns something that will
enhance further and future learning, it is important," whereas
Debbie felt "it was asking myself if I had learned something that
I could put into use in other situations. It is important to me to
be able to apply what I learned to new experiences and situations."

Comparing the goals we set for ourselves at the onset of our
respective internships with what we felt we had accomplished was a
concrete way of assessing our internships. Input from supervisors
and advisors along with sharing experiences within our group aided
in evaluating our learning experiences. In place of a final paper,
in which we had intended to pull together our experiences with
research and present it to the group, we decided to write this
article. Preparation for writing this proved to be beneficial to us
for we each answered the questions as they related to ourselves. We
chose to share them in this article in hopes of aiding future

     How Do You Define Success and Failure in an Internship?

Defining success and failure in an internship is difficult. There
is always something more that could have been done, especially when
you are setting your own goals and disciplining yourself. There is
no absolute measure of success or failure in doing an internship.
Karen said, "Success and failure in an internship come from
analyzing each experience. If goals are not met one has to decide
if it is because of personal failure, simply bureaucratic problems
or even luck." Kim felt, "Success is coming away with a feeling
that both the individual and the organization benefitted in some
way. Failure doesn't equal an internship that didn't go as planned.
An internship can go through major reconstruction and still be a
very successful project. This is especially true when one's goals
are primarily under the heading of `learning.' There is also a lot
to be learned from an internship that flipflops in mainstream."

          How Do You Know When You've Succeeded?

"I knew when I'd succeeded when I felt that I had learned a lot
from the process, that it had changed me, made an influence on my
life somehow, whether or not the project itself was a success or a
failure," said Robin. The criteria for success as Denise saw them
were "...when we felt good about the internship, when we were glad
we participated in the internships, and when we felt we had
accomplished at least some of the goals that we had set up for
ourselves in the beginning."


                   AT A RAPE CRISIS CENTER

                       Stacey Zlotnick

From January to May 1980, in the last semester of my senior year,
I took part in a service learning internship sponsored by the
University of Maryland Women's Studies Program. I spent between ten
and twelve hours a week at one of the most comprehensive rape
crisis facilities in the country, recognized as a national model
for the cooperative network it had coordinated between the police,
social service agencies, and hospital personnel. Besides
twenty-four hour emergency gynecological treatment and laboratory
analysis, the center provided ongoing group counseling for adult,
adolescent, and child victims, as well as individual counseling,
couples and family counseling, and around the clock hotline

As an intern at the sexual assault center, one of my primary
responsibilities was to conduct a telephone follow-up service for
rape victims who had discontinued contact with the center. Often,
these women would come to the center for gynecological treatment
and the lab tests necessary for legal prosecution, schedule an
appointment for individual counseling, and then fail to return.
Some women had difficulty coming to the center because they lived
far away, or lacked the money or means necessary to travel. Others
chose to dam up the memory of their rapes by becoming absorbed in
the daily routine of their previous lives, so that contact with the
center was clearly a threatening or disturbing experience. And then
there were the others, the shut-ins, who were simply too
fear-ridden or depressed to abandon even their doorsteps, much less
travel to the center.

I was to telephone each woman, inquire as to how she was feeling
both emotionally and physically (could she sleep, eat, and return
to work?), obtain any information she had concerning the status of
her police report or criminal trial, remind her of the center's
counseling services, and offer her my moral support. For each
victim there was a case history, sometimes pages and pages in
length, focusing on the biographical sketch of the victim, the
detailed events of her rape, and the psychological distress she
suffered in the aftermath. And after reading their stories, after
knowing who they were, where it had happened, and when and how it
had occurred, I had to telephone these women--women whose bodies
had been raped and abused by their fathers, their brothers, their
ex-lovers, and strangers--and ask them how they felt? My God, what
a ridiculous, worthless, waste of breath. From the first to the
very last telephone call, I would dial, then hold my
breath--mentally rehearsing each line, pretending that mere
optimism was a painkiller.

Mostly, to my relief, no one answered. Or the operator would cut in
on the line to tell me that the number I was dialing had been
changed to an unlisted number. Relief again. When I did reach a
woman, my questions were often met with hurried replies, as she
nervously guarded each word, afraid that her husband or parents
would discover she had been raped. 

But occasionally, someone would be grateful that I'd called, and
she'd tell me her story. She couldn't sleep at night, had lost her
appetite, and was afraid to go out alone. She was depressed, just
couldn't clean up the house, or concentrate on her schoolwork; she
just didn't know what had come over her. And I'd smile, slip some
painkiller into my voice, and tell her that it's a natural
reaction, it's to be expected--and all the while I knew that I
couldn't sleep, or eat, or go downstairs to the laundryroom alone.
But what else could I tell her? That just last night before
starting my car, I'd glanced in the rear view mirror four times,
checking for a head, a hand, a gun to emerge from the back seat?

At first, I thought that the frustration I was feeling was caused
by my struggle against the obvious limitations of telephone
counseling, for at best I could deliver only temporary comfort and
support to the victim. However, as a co-counselor in the weekly
group therapy sessions, I soon learned that my frustration was with
the scotch tape and paper clip method of psychotherapeutic
carpentry I was being trained to provide. When a woman said she
cried for no reason every night, she was told to pamper herself
with a bubble bath. If she complained that she was terrified to
leave her home alone, she was told that this was a normal reaction
that would dissipate with time. And yes, she was assured, in time
she would be able to have sex with her husband without feeling
frightened or paralyzed. Her anger, frustration, and tears were
labelled the normal symptoms of rape victimization, and then
brushed under the rug.

I never sincerely felt that I was helping anyone; tomorrow or the
day after, I knew that there would be another little girl, feet
stirruped, back flat on the examining table, whose well-trained
legs would flop apart impassively at the tap of the doctor's hand.
I was fighting a make-believe crusade against rape, and in fact, I
was helping to safeguard it: by training women to adjust to their
rapes, to cope with their anger, they never got the chance to ask
why in the hell it had happened to them in the first place?

In spite of my discontent, I never once dared to tell anyone how I
felt. Outside the group counseling sessions, I saw my supervisor so
minimally, that there was only time for her to ask me how
everything was going as she passed me in the corridor, and for me
to assure her with a nod and a smile, "I'm fine." Maybe it was the
way she'd tell me how everyone said I was doing such a good job, or
that thank God I wasn't like the other intern that had to be
supervised every minute, that made me realize that I was expected
to behave. To admit that I was upset or frustrated was to admit my
inability to work independently; and, if I couldn't work
independently, then I needed to be supervised. And it was very
clear, that my supervisor had neither the time, nor the desire, to
drop her important responsibilities to "babysit" me.

For the others, it seemed that the way to survive was to objectify,
to see each rape as each victim's horror--to bring it outside
yourself where it couldn't stab at your insides. They were
counselors and they saw clients--people who suffered emotional
distress to life's experiences. In this case, the experience just
happened to be rape.

Once, I did try talking to one of the other student interns. Except
to her, rape was something she could never quite imagine what it
would be like. But you see, I could. Maybe that was my problem, I
really could imagine it.

I had never before considered myself to be a political person. In
the past, I was a feminist because as a self-confident, ambitious
woman, I believed that I had the right to any opportunity that was
available to a man. And like most women, I glided through life
thinking that oppression was a radical fanatic's exaggerated idea
of day to day sexism. But now, oppression means thinking twice
before deciding to walk alone at night. It means to sham a strong
and fearless stride as your heart pounds, and your eyes glance
backwards, and your feet wish they were wearing sneakers instead of
sandals in case they had to run.

I never met most of the women--they were names on police reports,
voices on telephones--but I will always know the reality of their
fear. And because of our shared consciousness, I will never again
be able to sit sheltered in a sterile bubble with an anesthetic
smile, and tell some woman that she must learn to cope with her
anger, and incorporate the experience into herself. Women must be
taught to recognize their anger for what it is, a rebellion against
patriarchal oppression, and not an idiosyncratic rape symptom
devoid of rational/political meaning. I have realized the
inadequacy, the injustice, of traditional psychotherapy, and I
distrust any bit of research, regardless of how renowned the
author, that refuses to consider how politics affects the emotional
lives of women. That means a lot of my education and training has
been a lot of garbage.

Admittedly, no learning can occur in a vacuum. Without the ongoing
study of feminist literature, the concern of my co-seminar
classmates, and the tire-less support and encouragement of my
co-seminar teacher, I might have walked away from this experience
unchanged, blaming myself for my frustration.

To the next woman embarking on a similar journey, I wish her three
things: the perceptiveness to see, the strength to endure, and a
shoulder to cry on.


                      Toni Johnson

Last semester I interned on a student-originated project about the
career advancement of women. The placement was unique in that the
project was directed and maintained entirely by undergraduate
students, and although there was a faculty adviser, his role was to
give suggestions and lend support rather than actively supervise
the work. Because the funding agency believed that such autonomy
would promote a more intense learning experience for the students,
the student director was empowered to hire the project
participants, also students; apportion stipends; and generally see
that the program was carried out in accordance with the project

The purpose of the project was to provide and analyze a structured
support system aimed at enhancing the academic and career
motivation in undergraduate women who had already displayed a
certain degree of ability but who may have been stifled by social
expectations and/or internalized psycho-social barriers. It was
originally designed for female students from the university's
incoming 1979 class with combined Scholastic Aptitude Test scores
of 1100 or above. A structured seminar format utilizing a "core
manual" was implemented, and the issues that were contained within
the seminar were selected in an effort to "promote active
strategizing of achievement behaviors."

I was pleased to be given the opportunity to work on the project,
to do something that I considered worthwhile and vital to improving
the status of women. I began the semester with high hopes and
optimism; however, by the end of the term, I was angry and
disillusioned. As a Black woman, I perceived my treatment during my
internship as racist and condescending. My feelings have not
absolutely changed, but now, almost a semester later, I recognize
how much I have learned from the experience--about myself and about
working with others. This essay is not about racism, nor is it
about the details of my placement, although some details have been
included for clarity. It is about disappointment, conflict, growth
and development. Hopefully my experience will help others to better
cope with their internships, whether the situation is conflictual,
like mine was, or not.

At the onset of my participation on the project, I was given a copy
of the project proposal which contained an abstract of the work to
be done and defined the roles of project staff. Although it was to
be a "team" effort, we each had certain aspects of the program for
which we were to be held responsible. My role within the project,
as was initially presented to me, was that of adapter. The
directors, aware that the core manual had been developed by an
upper-middle class White woman, appreciated the possibility that it
might not address the concerns of women from different ethnic
and/or socio-economic backgrounds. My task, which I shared with
Saundra, another Black woman, was to modify the existing manual,
making it sensitive to the special needs of Black women. In order
to earn six credits, I was also to co-lead an achievement
motivation seminar for Black female students and participate in a
weekly internship seminar required by the women's studies program.

When we began work early in the semester, three of the five-member
team had already been working on the project for some time. They
all knew exactly what had to be done to keep the project running
smoothly and reach the appointed goals within the deadlines
specified. Saundra and I, on the other hand, were not well versed
in the procedures, so we did mostly clerical chores, stuffing and
addressing envelopes, making telephone calls, typing and the like,
since these were the duties assigned to us. We did some library
research for our own edification and to make improvements in the
existing manual, but after a while we came to see that our
responsibilities, as explained to us by our supervisors, the
project's co-directors, were quite different from the actual duties
that we performed. For weeks our work suffered while we aided
others in their work. It became apparent to us that the adaptations
for Black women were indeed of lesser importance to the rest of the

The adaptations steadily fell behind schedule, but Saundra and I
were consistently given other tasks which hampered our progress. In
a few short weeks, we had gone from adapters to office workers,
observers, group leaders and public relations persons--positions
made difficult by our ignorance of the administrative procedures
and research methodology and by the newness of our constantly
changing roles. Unconfident and discouraged, we began to ask
ourselves why we were hired, and if, in good conscience, we could
continue work on the program. We were uneasy not only about our
positions on the project, but also about the merit, or lack of it,
in what we had done for Black women. Whenever we voiced these
apprehensions, we felt that our feelings were glossed over.
Deadlines had to be met and work had to be done. By this time
Saundra and I had succeeded in substituting several articles within
the core manual for pieces we thought more relevant to Black women
and "adapting" only two out of eight sessions in the manual.

I began to feel like a "token" used to gain funds from a granting
agency which was interested in programs including and beneficial to
minorities. If I had not been hired, any Black female undergraduate
body would do. I did much of my work grudgingly and felt resentment
when criticized by the other members of the group. It was clear to
me that the project goals did not sincerely encompass the
enlightenment or motivation of Black women, but rather
unrealistically aimed at being an interracial miracle manual geared
to meet the needs of all women in one fell swoop.

Our dissatisfaction with the program led Saundra and me to search
for insights into the causes of our uneasiness. Our confusion and
feelings of isolation led us to begin to share with each other on
a more personal level. We began to seek out Black women on campus
and in the community. We began looking for literature by Black
women, and we discovered many new things about ourselves, as
individuals and as part of a larger minority group.

We decided that simply adapting the existing manual was not enough
to address the special needs of Black women. We realized that
instead of designing a support system for Black women, we had
simply modified one which was designed for White women, making it
non-alienating to Blacks. We did not feel that such a group was in
the best interest of Black women in a majority White institution;
we felt that major structural changes needed to be made to take
into account the fact that the position of Black women in America
is truly a unique one.

Black women are usually forced to address their needs as Black
people without regard to their sex or as women without regard to
their color. The special issues that one faces when one is both
Black and female are seldom considered. The project had dealt with
race as a peripheral issue, and although in retrospect, I do not
believe the project was racist in intent, it is ludicrous to expect
that Black women can focus entirely on sexism while ignoring their
race, especially where race is an isolating factor as it is on a
majority White campus.

Reluctantly, a compromise was agreed upon. Saundra and I were to
develop appendices especially for Black women to accompany what the
co-directors now considered an interracial manual. This arrangement
was dysfunctional to such an extent that a "team" effort was no
longer possible. Finally, Saundra and I broke off from the group to
continue working on developing our own manual for Black women.
Presently we are investigating funding sources and sharing our
ideas with others in the field.

This internship was the second of two in which I participated as an
undergraduate student. The first was a positive and encouraging
experience. I worked in a supportive environment and learned much
about the agency and its functions. I left the placement feeling
good about myself and wanting to continue in another internship
program. When I began to work on this project last semester, I was
unprepared for its frustrations and anxieties. I ended the term
angry and disillusioned.

Now, as I look back over last semester, the anger has subsided, and
I am thinking more clearly about what I have gained from the
conflict. I think I am more realistic about working and better
prepared to work with others. I know to take initiative without
overextending myself, and I'll think twice before aiding others in
their work, especially when the increased responsibility may mean
taking needed time away from my own commitments. I can now better
appreciate the seminar discussion group and the readings which
accompanied the internship; I realize how much they inspired me to
take steps to relieve what I considered an oppressive situation.
Talking with other women in the class, sharing our experiences,
gave me the support that my work site lacked.

I've learned a lot through turmoil--about power and politics,
role-playing and game-playing, racism and sexism, and Black and
White women, but most importantly, I've learned a lesson about the
"real world." I was very idealistic when I started the term. I
thought that others wanted change as much as I and for the same
basic reasons. I trusted blindly, forgetting that most people are
motivated by personal gain. Now I see that interns are much like
"babes-in-the-woods," easily preyed upon and taken advantage of, as
is any individual new to the labor force if she or he is unprepared
for it. It is important to learn from others and to do your job
according to the mandates of your superiors, but it is equally
important to protect and defend yourself when you believe that you
are right.

No matter how hard I struggled through my internship, I can see
that I am a  better person for it.

                      AS AN INTERN

                       Judy Sorum

Over the past few years, I've spent some very interesting time
talking with women just about to begin an internship as part of
their academic program, who want to know how best to enter that
experience, how to get the most out of it, and how to avoid common
pitfalls. I have, over this time, come to the conclusion that there
isn't much difference between these soon-to-be interns and the rest
of us, women workers, who cope with change and flux, ambiguity and
productivity, in our own work lives. Therefore, I suspect that the
best advice that can be provided to interns is that which comes out
of our own experiences of being new on a job, and out of our own
trials and errors. It is from this perspective that I share some
thoughts--my own as well as those gleaned from friends--about how
to begin and survive internship.

I have found that, when about to enter a new work situation, it is
important to maintain ties with activities that have helped define
us in the past: creative activities, athletic activities, personal
projects. Sometimes our first instinct under the time and energy
pressures of a new work environment is to give up such activities,
and to avoid undertaking new efforts in these areas. It may be
better to do just the opposite--to plan for time specifically
dedicated to at least one important, energizing, grounding activity
unrelated to the work. When I was about to begin my experience as
a White House Fellow, for example, I returned to the serious study
of the piano, which I had abandoned fifteen years before. On the
assumption that the discipline would be therapeutic, I invested in
a beautiful grand piano and began to practice on a regular basis.
The discipline was wonderful, and the music a healthy counterpoint
to the zaniness and challenge of my totally new work environment.
I found that I enjoyed sharing this new interest with old friends,
and that new work colleagues were surprisingly interested in my
taking up this long dormant interest again. It has provided me much

At the same time I started my fellowship experience I also began
keeping a journal. Despite an academic background in literature, I
had never done so before--partially because I objected to having to
write "regularly," and partially because I didn't see its
usefulness to me. I found now, however, that maintaining a
personal, my-eyes-only journal gave me a means of expressing
feelings, ideas, conclusions about the experience I was having. I
have come to believe that the form of the journal may not matter,
and that writing regularly is not essential (in one rough week I
wrote 50 pages; other times I write nothing), but that paying
attention to one's processes and growth and learning is most
important--at least to me. Some internship supervisors require
their students to keep a journal and turn it in; I recommend that
the student keep a strictly personal journal and if anything is
turned in it be a summary, excerpts, or a separate log. I think it
important that we have some place in our lives to express ourselves
to ourselves, without censoring our thoughts and feelings for a
reader. The journal becomes an absolutely private place for the
intern to be thoughtful, crazy, pensive, together, shattered,
rational, emotional.

I also suggest that interns develop a support system in the
work-place. Some people call this "networking," but I am suggesting
perhaps a more selective process to identify people in the
work-setting (and outside it) who are effective, helpful,
sympatica, competent, and willing to share their time and
experience with us. These people know that I'd like to be able to
call on them, that I am new to the work setting, and that I may be
needing their help. While many members of this important
informational and social support system will be other women, it is
also important to consider men a part of this system,and to seek
their support where appropriate. Building such a system gives us a
chance to know these people better: to be curious about them, how
they got to where they are, what their interests are, what things
interest and challenge them--in sum, to see them as whole and
complex human beings, as we would hope they would see us. By
modeling interest in others as whole beings we probably stand a
better chance of being seen and treated as total human beings
ourselves, and not just as temporary cogs in the organizational

Two caveats: as we go about developing and tending this support
system, we should remember that not all women will be interested in
supporting our efforts--as indeed, all men will not be. The idea is
to be selective and to call on those people with whom we feel some
kinship and who are interested in such a mentor/supporter role.
Secondly, we should not overlook the resource and support which
women at various levels of the organizations can provide. Often,
e.g., in our attempts to be professional and businesslike, we model
behaviors toward support staff which we have seen in male dominated
organizations--hierarchical disdain for the contributions of women
in these roles, discounting of their talents and abilities. Many
knowledgeable and talented secretaries and clerks are more than
willing to be supportive and helpful to an intern--if she will
allow that to happen.

In addition to a work-setting support group, a non-work network of
friends has helped me think through work-related problems. Many of
these are old friends, some new--who enable me to develop broader
perspectives on things that I encounter in the work place. They
come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and that makes
their advice even more valuable.

And finally, I have found it useful to think about experiences I
have had, or know of, that seem analogous to a new work
environment. What is this like? How does it resemble something with
which I am already familiar? Often we are so struck by the newness
of a situation, and the things that we don't know, that we miss, at
first, seeing how it is like other experiences we've had. Thus we
are slow to realize that we already 'nave skills and competencies
that are transferable to this new place. It may be helpful to
think, "Well, this is like being the new kid on the block," like
"the first day at summer camp," like "learning sailing," like "the
first week of college." Then we can recall what we did in those
situations that worked well--and those responses that didn't work
well, that we wouldn't care to repeat.

Perhaps because of my training in literature, I also think of
analogues, or metaphors (like being an actor in a Broadway play, or
the director of a ballet) that help me take on new roles, see how
I might do things I haven't done before. The metaphor I find most
helpful comes from my fascination with the work of Margaret Mead.
In a new work situation, I often think of myself as an
anthropologist in an alien tribe--curious, reflective, observant,
trying to learn as much as I can and to work as effectively and
unobtrusively as possible in this alien tribe before I move on.
This way of thinking helps me work with energy and patience without
feeling the need to change "the tribe" to my values (almost
impossible to do in any role, let alone as an intern); it helps me
value much of the rich cultural heritage I am observing.

Beyond these personal analogies, interns can try to understand the
social analogues of the work setting. In many male-organized
work-settings, those analogues will be athletic, military, etc. It
helps to be fluent in these social metaphors even if they aren't
terribly rich for us personally. I have found, for instance, that
playing racquetball with the other (male) special assistants has
helped me better understand their behavior, and mine, off the
court. And it expands my "fluency" in the dominant language of the
work situation.

All my reflections suggest that: as we work with women interns we
can share, from our own experiences, strategies for learning,
growing and surviving in a new situation--for these are, in a
simple sense, what are needed to make an internship work. And for
most of us they are some combination of grounding ourselves in the
transcendent themes of our lives, being as open and observant as
possible of the new experience, and finding fellow travelers along
the way who can help us over the rough spots and celebrate the
victories with us.


                     Kathryn Girard

Sisterhood can be joyous and energizing. It can also be frustrating
and disillusioning. The `personal' cost of working in a women's
center, a rape project or a Women's Studies program is often quite
high. We expect the hours of exciting and tedious processing that
it takes to build such programs. We don't expect pain and confusion
about our worth, skills and values, but these are outcomes of the
feminist group experience for many of us.

Where does sisterhood go wrong? We work in groups dedicated to
learning new skills and taking back our power, yet we may leave
these groups less confident than when we started and feeling badly
about ourselves and the feminist process. Collaboration,
cooperation, non-hierarchical, consensual, collective--these are
the key descriptors of the groups that leave bitter ex-members
behind. For how many of our students is the feminist worksite

I will explore some of the specific problems interns may encounter
in feminist groups, and sketch some steps that a women's studies
program might initiate to assist both the student and the feminist
organization in creating a mutually satisfying internship. Before
doing so, I want to outline some of the limits of this essay.

I am looking only at issues in explicitly feminist groups
believing that feminist rhetoric and philosophy contribute
significantly to the problems our groups encounter. My focus here
is on consensual or non-hierarchical feminist groups (though
hierarchical feminist groups may pose similar problems for interns
in certain areas), because, again, it is the values and
expectations leading to the choice of those organizational modes
that allow certain dynamics to arise. The ideas here are the
product of ten years of work in feminist caucuses and
organizations, and are substantiated largely by the nods, groans
and "ah ha's" that accompany my presentations about organizational
patterns and group dynamics to feminists working in feminist task
groups. In many cases the ideas suggest causal relationships; these
represent my working hypotheses as I explore the likely
relationships among attitudes, ideas and behaviors.

One last comment on the framework for this essay. Many of the
dynamics described here suggest failures in feminist,
non-hierarchical groups. This critical view must be understood in
the context of my beliefs that the struggle to translate feminist
rhetoric into organizational structures and personal behaviors is
essential and worthwhile; that we must not deny the failures, but
rather, learn from them. We must prepare our students toward this
end as well. To explore issues student interns are likely to
confront in feminist worksite placements, it is necessary to look
at the nature of many feminist organizations. Several common
characteristics and patterns described here should be kept in mind
when arranging a practicum experience.

     Desire for, or assumption of, equality: In our hearts I think
     we expect and wish feminist organizations to provide us an
     experience of equality among our sisters, to function holding
     true to some notion of equality.

     Missing accountability mechanisms: Procedures for insuring
     that tasks are accomplished appropriately, and for responding
     when they are not, are frequently fuzzy, avoided or

     Job rotation or open job selection and job changing: Job
     rotation or self-selection of tasks and jobs are ways that
     groups have tried to enable women to develop new skills and
     follow new interests. The changing and rotation of jobs are
     also intended to demystify certain types of work and to
     maintain an equality of skills, knowledge and power.

     High staff turnover: This bane of many feminist organizations
     is self-explanatory, and its causes are probably
     familiar--salaries that are too low (where they exist at all),
     and work that is overwhelming.

     Participatory or consensual decision-making: While there seem
     to be fewer task groups and organizations functioning with an
     explicitly non-hierarchical structure now than in earlier
     years, many groups operate with a modified hierarchy and
     attempt to make decisions in a consensual or participatory
     manner. Compromises are made in the structure such that the
     director, for example, may have overall authority and be
     perceived by the larger institution or community as being "in
     charge," but actual decision-making authority and
     responsibility is delegated to groups or the entire staff. In
     some cases a modified hierarchy is an attempt to maintain two
     fronts--an external hierarchy for incorporation or credibility
     purposes, and an internal non-hierarchy for ideological ones.
     `Decentralization' and `small group autonomy' are two other
     characteristics related to this type of organizational

     Desire to meet the needs and expectations of others: As women
     well socialized in this society, many of us do not say "no"
     easily in the face of obvious need. In addition to being a
     personal neurosis, this pattern is also an organizational one.
     All organizations face the problem of fitting individual
     needs, program needs and larger community or institutional
     needs into a workable and effective whole. Women's
     organizations--including and perhaps especially feminists
     ones--suffer from women's issues at the organizational level.
     For the only women's organization on a campus or in a town,
     this pattern is exacerbated.

     Constant survival focus and crisis orientation: Very few
     feminist organizations go through a year without having to
     worry about how to survive the following year. Issues of
     effectiveness are constantly being thrown up against issues of
     survival; often, long-range planning is neglected.

     Underfunded, understaffed and "undereverythinged" compared to
     goals and services: Most feminist organizations are
     inadequately staffed, severely underfunded and incredibly
     overworked. (For example, a survey of women's centers across
     the country found that typical women's centers, reaching over
     2,000 women a year, had 5 part-time staff and ran 9 programs.)
     The resulting strain is easy to predict. Feminist groups
     always aspire to accomplish far more than their available
     resources would seem to allow.

     Marginality: This is a characteristic familiar to most women's
     studies programs as well as other feminist groups, since
     neither is funded nor "housed" so as to be a part of the
     mainstream of our communities or academic institutions. A
     small budget and small staff doing work that is generally
     considered unimportant may bring greater freedom, since fewer
     people care to pay serious attention, and that can be a real
     advantage. On the other hand, the risk to survival is
     significantly increased.

     Equalization of rewards: Even where salaries are graduated,
     the belief that rewards should be equalized is often
     present--sometimes as an undercurrent, sometimes as an
     explicit issue. Frequently there is some attempt to equalize
     other concrete rewards, such as vacation time, and/or more
     intangible rewards, such as inclusion in social activities.

     Confusion over issues of power and leadership: Confusion often
     seems to arise around the appropriateness and meaning of
     power. We want our organization to have the power to effect
     changes but, within them, individual power is often perceived
     negatively. Covert norms and problematic dynamics around power
     often center on an assumption that everyone in the
     organization has, or should have,equal power (something that
     is virtually impossible); or on an assumption that if someone
     has power, then someone else has had it `taken away' (which is
     sometimes true, and sometimes an assumption that obscures how
     frequently we `give' our power away); or on an assumption that
     no one `should' have power (also virtually impossible). These
     assumptions tend to prevent us from dealing with the reality
     of our differences.



These are some of the characteristics of the organizations into
which we are sending our idealistic, hopeful Amazon feminists. This
essay is a plea to send them in armed. The first step in that
direction is to examine some implications of these organizational
patterns for interns.

The desire for or assumption of equality becomes problematic when
the equality of members is translated into sameness. We believe in
and are fighting for equality through our work; realizing equality
in our work place is very difficult. We frequently end up reducing
equality to the simplest and most concrete idea--sameness: same
treatment, because that is a clear marker of equality, and same
status or level because we know that there will be no power

This assumption has several implications for people coming into the
work place. An intern or a new staff member requires some basic
training and orientation, but the teacher-student, trainer-trainee
relationships appear unequal and there may be widespread discomfort
with such explicit inequities. Otherwise, it is hard to explain the
ongoing stories of interns given correspondence to answer, articles
to write, issues to research, phones to answer, clients to see--
with no introduction to the organization or the task and with no
initial supervision.

The polite avoidance of skill differences affords few favors. An
undergraduate for whom her placement is a first job typically lacks
the skills to negotiate for training. She may have as great a
discomfort with the teacher learner dichotomy as staff members, and
therefore initially appreciate the assumption that she can just
pick up on her new job. Such initial appreciation can quickly fade
if the task is overwhelming or not familiar. Tension is compounded
when a student internalizes the problem and sees her difficulties
as her failure, her problem.

Another problem arises from warm-hearted, well-intentioned messages
of equality to interns and new staff. Interns, especially full-time
ones, may be told that they are to function as equal members of
the organization, but the reality is that they cannot: they lack
the history, information and influence or power among group members
and the leadership skills or position of older members. The message
and the experience are dissonant and confusing. Again, inexperience,
socialization and expectations of the feminist work place
contribute to the student's feeling that confusion is her

A different kind of problem stemming from the assumption of
equality occurs when we approach an intern with that assumption and
therefore omit a thorough assessment of her skills and abilities.
A fine intention can result in assigning the intern either to tasks
below her actual skill and ability level or to tasks beyond her
current abilities. In the interests of not treading on individual
equality, the intern receives an experience of total frustration
and disappointment, which often turns to anger and resentment, or
an experience of intense anxiety, fear of failure and the belief
that the problems are her fault.

Our goal as women, of coming to know and to validate our strengths,
is not aided by the assumption that "of course I can start
counseling rape victims tomorrow." We do not need to create and
perpetuate an Amazon myth. The dynamic that arises from allowing
women to attempt as much as they want (or the organization wants)
without adequate training or support, coupled with a common
individual pattern of internalizing problems as personal failures,
is not productive to a student's learning.

One final point about issues for interns related to assumptions of
equality: the more radical students are the ones most likely to
have the most difficult time. The student who just started to think
about women's issues is not as likely to hold heartfelt
expectations about the experience of sisterhood in a feminist
internship setting. More radical students, who have already
acquired a zealous spirit and an Amazon persona, are more likely to
enter the organization expecting the experience of equality that
the other members of the group think they are prepared to give. In
a radical organization they are likely to receive the rhetoric and
some of the behaviors that on the surface seem appropriate, but
that then increase their confusion and pain when the experience
"doesn't feel good."

The lack of clear accountability mechanisms is connected to the
assumption of equality. Feminist organizations often speak
passionately about their accountability and responsibility to their
community. Individual members also speak, with a great deal of
feeling, about their responsibility to be true to their community.
Individual members also speak, with a great deal of feeling, about
their responsibility to be true to their own convictions, values
and political beliefs, and express strong feelings of
responsibility toward the other women in the organization. The
problems arise at the level of accountability for completing tasks
related to the organization's purpose. Accountability at that level
is often seen as too hierarchical, intruding on personal autonomy
and undermining individual power within the group. It is rare to
find clear systems of accountability--systems set up so that
someone else knows to do, by when, and is responsible for
intervening if I don't do it.

Even in more hierarchical and professional organizations with
clearly defined staff responsibilities, accountability mechanisms
may still be inadequate because of a great hesitancy to intrude
into another's work, to make direct statements, such as, "You
didn't do X." (It is interesting how the Women's Movement and our
socialization combine to burden us with beliefs and behaviors of
Superwoman, on the one hand, and emotional fragility with regard to
criticism and anger on the other.)

One clear implication is that interns can end up without
supervision. No one has that role among the regular staff, and
frequently no one is quite comfortable in that role. Or, the staff
may dutifully create a supervisory accountability system for the
intern, who then becomes the only one in the entire organization
whose work is checked! Either way, the intern suffers the effects
of negative dynamics.

Interns also can be victims of "crisis accountability,"
accountability mechanisms that only come into play when work due a
month ago is needed. A crisis meeting is scheduled and, for the
first time, the intern may hear both the groups' expectations of
and responses to her. Because of the crisis, others in the
organization may already be at the point of thinking of terminating
her or changing her job.

Two other characteristics of feminist groups--staff transiency and
job rotation--serve to compound the problems with accountability.
Both these patterns mitigate against the development of staff
members' skills to the point where they themselves can feel
sufficiently competent and "expert" to supervise an intern. Too, if
there are few or no existing training, accountability or
supervisory mechanisms among the staff, those assigned such tasks
with an intern are likely to lack the skills and experience to set
up effective systems. They also may find it more comfortable to
"let the intern learn like I did," ignoring the differences in time
between an internship and regular staff position.

Participatory decision-making, consensual decision-making, and non-
hierarchical or modified hierarchical structures can all create
problems for interns. In addition to time and commitment,
successful participation in these structures requires: listening
skills; the ability to see similarities and to allow differences;
a willingness to be the only person in the room who articulates a
different point of view; clarity in defining and exercising one's
right to say no when "no" in a consensual decision-making process
is a veto: clarity in defining and exercising one's responsibility
to support a majority decision in democratic decision-making. It
takes a lot of verbal ability to participate, as well as
information about issues and familiarity with procedures.

It seems only fair that in choosing a practicum in a non-
hierarchical or consensual organization interns realize the skills
and abilities that effective participation in such organizations
requires. Such prior knowledge can help them maintain the focus on
`learning' how to participate, and in developing selected skills.
More typically, the intern is left to struggle with the confusion
of participating in an egalitarian structure while feeling
decidedly unequal.

Those working only a few hours a week in an alternative
organizational structure will not have the time to participate in
the key elements of the organization's process. Thus, no matter how
friendly everyone is to her, the intern is likely to have an
experience of being an outsider. Again, the stronger the student's
expectation to experience the camaraderie of sisterhood and
equality, the more painful and confusing her actual experience will

Even if an intern is working almost full time while placed in an
organization, the limited duration of the practicum prevents
in-depth participation for most people. She may have the time to
attend all the meetings, but she will still be without experience,
knowledge and relationships to support truly equal participation.
She, too, will still have the experience of being an outsider. We
need to be aware of the stress created by internships that require
an intense commitment and involve very complex relationships for a
three month period of time.

A common carryover from our socialization as women is a feeling of
being responsible for meeting the needs and expectations of others.
In feminist organizations, this often means we assume that if we
are going to meet the needs of the women "out there," surely we
must meet the needs of the women on our staff as well. From an
organization's point of view, then, one problem with any intern is
that she is yet another person whose needs must be met and somehow
fitted into the organization's activities. For example, if an
intern is shy in groups, isn't it our responsibility to help her
feel more comfortable and to take the time to try to include her,
to help her become more verbal and a more active participant? After
all, we are in the organization both to help each other grow and to
accomplish important work. The balance between those two aspects of
our purpose is difficult to maintain, even more difficult when we
each bring a personal compulsion to meet the needs of others. This
compulsion builds a group or organizational norm which leads
members to expect that their needs have a clear place in the
organization's life.

The burden of this dynamic on the organization should be clear. The
set-up for the intern is that her situational needs (the need for
supervision, the need to integrate her learning goals with the job
tasks available, the need to be oriented and trained, etc.) do
create a substantial demand on the organization. This fact, coupled
with whatever personal needs and expectations an intern may bring,
can lead the regular staff to focus resentment on her because, on
both emotional levels, they do not want any additional
responsibility. Remember, most feminist sites set up internships
because they are desperate for help and already severely

Interns are also affected by the other aspect of this personal and
organizational dynamic. When the organizational norm is one of
responding to all requests for help, information or assistance,
whether or not they fall within the group's stated purpose, an
intern may quickly find herself dealing with situations and
problems that are, at best, inappropriate to her chosen learning
goals and, at worst, overwhelming and scary. The group norm often
does not support the refusal to "take on" the situation or problem.

Ever present survival issues and a crisis orientation stemming from
underfunding and overwork make successful internships difficult.
Lack of long-range planning usually means that many organizations
cannot guarantee that the internship originally negotiated will be
the one implemented. Instead, an intern may be directed to work
that is very much in reaction to immediate events and represents
the "easiest" thing an intern could be asked to do. Short-range
planning and the search for where the intern can fill in or be of
immediate help might result in the intern's spending her time
answering the phone and providing information on request. While
chances are that this assignment would provide other staff with
more time for more "important" work and might provide the intern
with a sense of the range of women's needs in the community, it is
less likely to be of enduring value to her or to the organization.

In those feminist organizations attempting to equalize concrete
and/or intangible rewards, two types of problems may emerge for
interns. One is that the organization may feel guilty about the
lack of salary and compensate by: (1) allowing the intern to do
things they would not ordinarily prefer her to do (which may lead
to covert resentment or an unexpected attack); and/or (2) inviting
the intern to participate in meetings or activities beyond her job
description so that she will at least feel included and "good"
(which usually leads to confusion and rapid burnout for the

The other problem is that most feminist groups are terrible when it
comes to praise--a key intangible reward. Usually, there is an
absence of positive feedback among staff members. The intern, then,
doesn't get rewarded by the formative feedback and praise she
needs. And most interns don't get the other major intangible
reward--that satisfaction of seeing the product of one's work and
its impact.

Marginality is the one characteristic of feminist organizations
that offers advantages with fewer pitfalls--at least for interns.
The major advantage of marginality is the greater freedom the
organization may have to create internships that enable students to
test out new skills and abilities, and to take on significant
responsibilities. The only pitfall is that a placement in an
alternative marginal organization may carry less professional
weight and credibility when it comes to job hunting.


Interns and their women's studies supervisors can take steps to
avoid many of these pitfalls and to ensure a successful internship.
Some of these are:

       1. Pre-practicum seminars or planning sessions, where the  
          student's intellectual and emotional needs, goals and   
          expectations are explored, clarified and realistically  
          modified in terms of the constraints in a time-limited  

       2. The setting of learning rather than doing goals for the
          practicum. A focus on doing goals can lead to frustration
          when situational factors necessitate a change in the
          intern's assignment. A focus on learning goals can
          provide a basis for accepting or rejecting changes, and
          can provide a perspective from which to reflect on and
          analyze activities.

       3. Practicum seminars or weekly individual meetings for the
          purposes of processing the personal and emotional
          material generated from the practicum and maintaining a
          focus on the student's learning goals. Such seminars and
          meetings can mitigate against internalizing of problems
          and allow students to function as participant-observers
          at their placement sites.

       4. Prior involvement with the placement site, by the women's
          studies program staff, to establish minimum requirements
          for supervision, to explain the purpose of the internship
          from the academic side, and to gather information to use
          in deciding whether or not an organization can provide an
          adequate internship experience.

       5. Providing (requiring) a course, seminar or module on
          feminist or alternative organizations prior to or
          simultaneous with placement at a feminist work site.

In closing, there is one final point I would like to make. The
strong desire to create our feminist visions now is often a block
to the actual realization of those visions. We need time to define
our visions more clearly, and time to develop the personal skills
necessary to implement them. For me, this is a central purpose of 
women's studies. Our task is to teach our students to be creative
rather than reactive in responding to the cultural norms, values
and models that surround and are a part of us.

We and our students can only move from reaction to creation by
accepting, rather than denying, the problems we have and the
obstacles we face, personally and organizationally. We need to
encourage the acknowledgement of fears, hopes, confusions and
expectations around power, leadership and equality. We need to find
and teach that difficult balance between patience and gentleness
with flaws, on the one hand, and demands and expectations for
change, on the other. We need to validate that it makes `sense' for
the changes we are seeking to be personally confusing and
difficult. Not only are we struggling with the residue of our
socialization around power and leadership and our experiences of
their being used against women, but we are also attempting to
create organizations free of the types of power and leadership most
familiar to us. The role models are very scarce: our students have
the right to know the complexity and enormity of the undertaking,
and the cost of the superwoman, Amazon myth.


                       Patty Gibbs

(I am indebted to my social work colleagues at West Virginia
University for some of the conceptual material on contracting which
was worked on conjointly stemming from our experience with social
work seniors in their field placement.)

This essay will outline and elaborate on specific strategies and
learning tools for optimizing the student's service learning
experience. Since it is important in service learning to (1)
efficiently and effectively orient the student to the agency, (2)
identify the tasks, obligations, responsibilities, and learning
objectives of the student to the three primary parties
(student,instructor, field supervisor), (3) assimilate the student
into the agency milieu as quickly as possible, and (4) process and
continually evaluate the student's performance, it is crucial to
devise instruments that will guide and facilitate this process.
Each of the following tools will be discussed: learning contracts,
logs, journals and grading approaches.

Although it is more effective and productive to utilize all of the
tools in combination during the service learning experience,
several factors such as structure and duration of the course itself
will determine the practicality of this ideal. Choosing specific
tools most suited to your individual course needs and maximally
utilizing these will serve to strengthen both the direction and
clarity of the experience.

                     Learning Contracts

The learning contract is one of the most essential elements for
guiding service learning and providing a gauge for assessing
student performance. Contracts should reflect the learning needs of
the students, the educational mission of the women's studies
program of which the practicum is a part, and the service needs of
the agency itself. Sample learning contracts can be found in the

The learning contract should be finalized in the first few weeks of
the placement. A student should begin writing a rough draft at the
outset of the experience working closely with her field supervisor.
The faculty-based instructor can aid students in refining the
contract. Ideally the three primary parties should meet to discuss
and finalize the contract. All three should sign the finalized
version after it is typed which should then be duplicated so each
has her own copy.

The purpose of the learning contract is threefold:

     1. It makes explicit for the three primary parties the roles 
        and responsibilities of each.

     2. It is a reciprocal agreement of the student's learning    
        objectives and strategies for achieving them.

     3. It forces the student from the outset into greater        
        connectedness with the agency as she attempts to relate her 
        learning goals to the service delivery system of that     
        agency. (1)

The contract is divided into eight parts:

1. Cover Sheet - It is helpful to have accessible basic information
necessary for management of the service learning experience, and
the contract cover sheet can be an invaluable time and energy saver
for faculty and field supervisors alike. Some pertinent data might

          Student's name
          Home phone

          Service Learning Agency
          Director of agency (if applicable)
          Field Supervisor

2. Description of Agency - This brief description will further
acquaint the instructor with the agency and facilitate the
student's acclimation to the agency milieu. The description should
include such relevant information as: type of agency, services
provided by the agency and client/consumer population served.

3. Learning Goals - The semester learning goal should reflect the
ultimate purpose or interest toward which total efforts by the
student will be directed. It should be service-oriented, i.e.,
stated in terms of services offered by the agency in which the
student will become involved. The statement should include
identification of the specific (or general) client/consumer
population whose needs are addressed by the agency through its
service delivery efforts. For example, "to provide resource and
counseling services to victims of domestic violence and their
families" would be an acceptable service-oriented goal statement
for the student.

The academic or career goal statement should explain how the
service learning experience will contribute to the short-term and
long-term goals of the student with regard to her education and/or
career aspirations.

4. Learning Objectives - These statements are student-centered (as
opposed to service-oriented learning directives) and carry subtopics
(methodologies) identifying the separate efforts by the student
which collectively accomplish the primary service-oriented goal. In
order to clarify the difference between learning goals, objectives,
and methodologies the following examples are offered:

          Goal - To provide family planning services (birth control
          information, free pregnancy tests, and unwanted-pregnancy
          counseling) to individuals and/or couples in the
          Monongalla County of West Virginia.

          Objective - To learn and fully understand all available
          birth control options for females and males.

          Methodology - By reading Our Bodies, Ourselves by the
          Boston Women's Health Collective.

To formulate the objectives it is helpful for the student to ask
questions about her learning needs related to the particular agency
setting in terms of: (1) knowledge (what facts, information, etc.,
do I want/need to learn in order to function effectively in this
agency?), (2) skills (what skills do I want/need to develop and
refine during this experience?), and (3) attitudes (are there
particular attitudes I need to modify, discard, or acquire in order
to serve the client/consumer population?).

The knowledge objectives may deal with, for example, particular
information on domestic violence such as the cycles, the relevant
statistics, the factors influencing habitual return to the husband
by the victim, etc.; or students might identify certain
policies/laws with which they need to become acquainted.

Skill objectives might include communication skills (interviewing,
active listening, empathic responses), research skills (date
collection and processing), skills in organizing (such as calling
and chairing meetings, networking, recruiting volunteers)--the list
could go on forever.

To explore attitudinal objectives students can consider the
following: their own sexist conditioning that may emerge in the new
work movement; or they may need to learn to respect the choice of
the client or person with whom they work, as in the situation where
the domestic violence victim chooses to return to her husband.
Students should also expect to find themselves adopting
unanticipated attitudes during the placement which could be
counterproductive if not dealt with properly or rechanneled
constructively. A case in point became apparent during a panel
presentation at the Women's Studies Service Learning Institute. A
young woman from the University of Maryland who was placed at a
center for sexual assault victims spoke about her experiences in
placement. As she did, the rage, and hurt elicited in her by the
nature of the social problem with which she was dealing began to
surface, leaving her tearful and obviously distressed. I gleaned
from that experience how crucial it is for the instructor to be
able to anticipate such reactions, especially in some service
delivery agencies. Attitudinal objectives which identify in advance
potential trouble spots and outline strategies for dealing with
them will greatly benefit the student.

5. Methodologies - These are strategies, actions, methods, and
procedures which will facilitate accomplishment of the objective.
Each learning objective will have several methodologies listed
under it that will lead to its accomplishment.

For example, if the learning objective were "gaining knowledge of
teenage pregnancy and its ramifications," strategies or activities
to accomplish this objective might include: "reviewing the
literature on the problem; reviewing any applicable research;
interviewing relevant professionals who deal with the problem such
as physicians, social workers; securing permission to visit a home
for pregnant adolescents and interviewing them."

6. Specific Information for Managerial Purposes - This list of data
is beneficial when made explicit in the contract, even if it
appears to be no more than an itemized laundry list.
       A) student tasks/responsibilities - These should include 
          projects expectations for record keeping, dress, meeting
          attendance,etc.; work hours (shift work if applicable);
          and any other relevant data, including information that
          might also be reflected in one of the learning objectives
          (for instance, "organizing a Big Sister Program").

      B)  Inclusive dates of the experience and recognized vacation 

       C) Identification of resources made available to the student 
          by the agency such as supplies, travel money, work space, 
          clerical support (if applicable), mailing privileges,   
          training of any kind, etc.

7. Obstacles to Effective Functioning - This should be a list of
possible problems of anticipated barriers that might hinder
accomplishment of the objectives, including deficiencies in
knowledge, skills, resources, attitude, or environmental

8. Method of Evaluation - This section would address the criteria
and methods by which the student's performance would be assessed.
Periodic conferences during which the student, instructor, and
field supervisor meet to review the learning contract and discuss
the progress of the student might be one vehicle for assessment.
Ongoing evaluation may occur during individual weekly supervisory
sessions between the student and her field supervisor or
faculty-based instructor. Written assignments may also be a part of
the total evaluation criteria.


The logs contain the objective accounts by the student of her daily
activities and general productivity in the agency. All other
activities related to the service learning experience should also
be included whether or not those activities take place in the
agency itself. Examples of the latter would include extra meetings
attended after work hours, reading done at night, and other tasks
performed as a part of service learning although not actually
carried out in the agency.

There should be a dated entry which lists all activities and their
purpose for every day of placement. For instance, "wrote a letter
to the Department of Welfare to give them the information they
required to determine Mrs. Smith's eligibility for services, a
release for the information had been secured" would be a long entry
that reflects both the task and the reason for doing it. Other
entries might include such items as "typed address labels for our
newsletter," or "answered the hotline all morning: did crisis
counseling with two women." The student might then want to outline
in the log the specifics of these two situations for possible
discussion during a supervisory conference in order to obtain
feedback on her intervention skills. The student would not,
however, process her feelings about the counseling situation or
apply conceptual material to the incidents and her handling of
them. This is done separately in the journal which is covered in
the next section. The log is specifically for entering objective
accounts of activities--laundry lists so to speak--as opposed to
being designed as a tool for processing the experience in any way.

By reviewing the logs the instructor and field supervisor can
assess whether or not the student's tasks and activities are
all-inclusive and/or appropriate to the particular learning
experience or intervention with the client/consumer. In this way
the log serves as an instructional tool. Logs also aid the
instructor in providing the agency and field supervisor with help
and guidance for strengthening the learning experience by
identifying activities in which the student might become engaged
which are relevant to the educational mission of women's studies
service learning.


The journal is supplemental to the log and serves as a vehicle for
the personal and professional development of the student. In it the
student reflects on how she feels about all facets of the
experience. Through the journal the relationship of the student's
placement experience to other feminist issues can be explored.
Students can also utilize the journal to formulate potential
corrective action strategies for the problems they come to realize
are facing women as a group.

The structure of the journal will depend on the structure of the
service learning course itself. If there is a concurrent classroom
seminar, the journal might have a slightly different focus, i.e.,
increased application of conceptual material to placement
experiences based on readings, lectures, and so forth. Regardless,
the journal is an instrument to draw together and synthesize the
multiplicity of contents in the experience, and can be quite useful
in a variety of ways. The faculty advisor and field supervisor may
find journal material helpful in setting agendas for supervisory
conferences with the student. The student may be able to get in
touch with underlying realities that might have otherwise gone
uncovered without consistently recording reactions from which
themes might be seen to emerge. Secondly, although students may be
reluctant at times to articulate certain feelings or reactions in
face-to-face conference, they do it with greater ease when
approached more indirectly: through the journal. A student's
emotional reaction to any facet of the placement so recorded can be
noticed and hopefully dealt with before it is exacerbated. In this
way the journal can alert the faculty advisor and the field
supervisor that a conference is in order and help the instructors
to set timely agendas for the meeting.

The journal is not a one-way street. It is essential that the
faculty advisor give the student feedback through the journal.
Making notes in the margins, giving personal comments, answering
questions posed, identifying resources for further reading, or just
giving the student a pat on the back for a job well done are all
forms of valuable feedback for the student, particularly if there
is not a co-seminar to bridge the gap between the theory and the
field. In order for such feedback to be useful to the student, it
should occur often and consistently. This requires that journals be
turned in at least every two weeks and that instructors are
conscientious about getting them back immediately to the student
with their comments and/or reactions.

Keeping in mind the needs of the student and expectations of the
course, the instructor should devise a format for the journal that
will aid the student in processing her experience and structuring
her thoughts about women in contemporary society--their roles,
oppression, and the social structures which perpetuate women's
problems. Instructors may want to design the format to correspond
with topics being covered in the co-seminar and include "study
questions" under each topic for the student to consider in the
journal. Particular attention should be paid to structuring the
topics to coincide directly with the purposes and context of
service learning. For example, the introductory topic may be "the
feminist workplace," or "sexism and stereotyping," or any other
foundation concept. The instructor can then provide a handout with
pertinent questions for guiding the student's thoughts as she
explores the topic. Such an approach should not be so inflexible as
to discourage use of the journals to process other contents in the
learning experience. It is important that the journal be an
instrument that not only synthesizes the experience but also
facilitates related intellectual and personal insights.


Almost universally in academe, student performance is placed on a
letter-grade ledger. Individual assignments suffer this same
unfortunate form of appraisal. Although these marks are supposed to
be "objective," most of us who teach realize that for a variety of
reasons we cannot always be as scientifically objective in our
assessments as we might like to be. Often we are biased because we
consider additional contingencies which should not be taken into
account. Such subjectivity is certainly one of the more negative
aspects of letter grading. Pass/fail grading for a course is often
only begging the question of bias because if does not altogether
alleviate it; such a system only allows greater latitude for
instructor error. In addition, pass/fail grading does not get at
the more insidious concern of the grading paradigm: the fact that
for the most part grading criteria are a product of a male-centered
educational concept. I feel that it is important as we teach our
students to seek alternative and creative solutions/responses to
the problems facing women, that we are cognizant of our
responsibility to do likewise.

One alternative grading schema, especially appropriate for
self-directed learners using contracts and journals, places the
onus of the grading problem where it belongs: with the individual
student. To implement this approach, sometimes called "contract
grading," instructors would establish a hierarchy of assignments to
be completed for the course with those of lesser importance heading
the list and proceeding to the assignment which is most difficult
and comprehensive, for example, a term paper. Grades would be
assigned by the instructor to the hierarchy of assignments
commensurate with the degree of difficulty. Individual student
assignments would be graded on a pass/fail basis and any passing
paper would be counted toward meeting the grade toward which the
student is working given the hierarchy; therefore, completion of
the entire list of assignments would earn the student an "A,"
completion of all but the most difficult one would earn the student
a "B," and so forth.


Educators in general have recognized that the value of learning
lies in the student's ability to take all pieces of acquired
knowledge and put them to use--apply them to human existence. Since
learning is such a dynamic process, it requires many avenues for
attainment. Women's studies service learning as an educational
strategy affords the opportunity for students to engage in an
exciting and meaningful learning experience where theory and
practice are intricately interwoven. Because of the special nature
of service learning, special educational tools and techniques are
required. The ones outlined in this essay are a preliminary
attempt to provide some guidance and structure as women's studies
service learning continues to take shape and develop.

In order to facilitate optimal learning for the student, a variety
of tools are required. Learning contracts are invaluable for
prompting the student to become an active and self-directed
participant in her learning experience. Through formulating
learning objectives the student becomes more invested in both the
process and product of her learning. Journals and logs provide data
useful in many respects to all parties engaged in the educational
endeavor. Assignments which sharpen analytical skills lay the
foundation for an approach to problem-solving critical in
facilitating social change.


1. Although a learning contract is desirable and necessary for an
intern working in any setting, the following description is
specifically geared toward work within a social service agency.
Additions, deletions and substitutions should be made where needed,
for students working in government and public policy or business



     Inventory of Knowledge, Skills and Attitude Objectives (1)

Along with defining the parameters of women's studies service
learning, the instructor must also be able to provide direction for
the tasks and responsibilities that face both the student and the
field supervisor. Providing direction to the student involves
helping formulate the desired learning outcomes. To do this we must
first decide what we want students to know as a result of service
learning. Additionally we must ask: what do we want students to be
able to do? Are there underlying attitudinal objectives we want
students to achieve related to the goals and philosophy of feminist
field experience? The answers to these questions crystallize a
tripartite model for categorizing student learning: knowledge,
skill and attitude objectives. What follows is an outline of those
objectives in a form intended to provide a blueprint for
instructors of service-learning courses in women's studies.

Although this inventory may appear at first glance to be rather
ambitious, a closer look will reveal that such expectations are not
out of line with the broader goals of women's studies
service-learning. If we are interested in educating social change
agents who will be effective in their mission, then it is clear
that we need to explicate all of the objectives which we want
students to meet through their experience. Further, feminist
education has been committed to testing out new curricular
approaches while remaining sensitive to the need for strengthening
the legitimacy and credibility of the learning program. The
proposed inventory serves as a starting point for service learning
educators to modify as necessary in assessing the needs of their
particular academic situation.

                  Inventory of Knowledge Objectives

A. Knowledge of the Organizational Context

     1. Knowledge of the agency

        The student should be able to:

        1.1 Explain and describe the agency's purpose, programs,  
            focus, goals.
        1.2 Demonstrate a working knowledge of the agency policies 
            and procedures.
        1.3 Identify limitations of services or service gaps.
        1.4 Identify and appraise the formal and informal structure 
            of the agency.
        1.5 Describe the relationship of the agency to other      
            service organizations in the community.
        1.6 Compare the agency structure to the ideal feminist    
        1.7 Relate one's own activities to the broader goals of the 

     2. Knowledge of the agency as an organization

        The student should be able to:

        2.1 Discuss the impact of the agency structure            
            (hierarchical vs.lateral) on agency functioning, citing 
            both functional and dysfunctional aspects of each     
            organizational model.
        2.2 Describe the characteristics of a feminist workplace.
        2.3 Discern the difference between informal, collaborative, 
            consensual decision-making and decision-making based on 
            a model of power and domination.
        2.4 Describe the difference between a bureaucratic approach 
            and a collective approach to task accomplishment.
        2.5 Explain the role and function of organizations in     
            contemporary society.
        2.6 Understand the difference with regard to service      
            delivery between organizations as means and           
            organizations as ends.
        2.7 Discuss the impact of organizational structure on the 
            individual worker.
        2.8 Understand the organization as instrumental to social 

B. Knowledge of the Community Context of Service Learning

     3. Characteristics of the community

        The student should be able to:

        3.1 Describe the structures and processes (e.g.,          
            government, industry, politics, etc.) of the community.
        3.2 Understand the needs and characteristics of any       
            distinct population in the community and identify the 
            influences which make them unique (e.g., rural poor,  
            minority ghetto, etc.).
        3.3 Assess the needs and concerns of that portion of the  
            community to be served by the agency.

     4. Knowledge of resource systems

        The student should be able to:

        4.1 Identify the major ways needs are met, stress is      
            alleviated, and concerns are dealt with in the        
        4.2 Demonstrate a working knowledge of the resources      
            available in the community that are appropriate for the 
            service of the agency.
        4.3 Understand the importance of and the difference between 
            formal and informal resources.
        4.4 Describe self-help as an approach for meeting human 
            need and explain its relationship to more formal and  
            structured resources/services.

C. Knowledge of Intervention

     5. The steps of the problem-solving process

        The student should be able to understand and distinguish  
        between each of the following:

        5.1 Initial contact or involvement with the problem       
        5.2 Assessment of the situation based on inputs from the  
            client, significant others, or any other source of    
        5.3 Definition of the problem(s): immediate--precipitated 
            the contact by the client with the service,           
            underlying--factors that are perpetuating or          
            influencing the immediate problem, 
            obstacles to change--factors that stand in the way of 
            problem solution and need to be dealt with if change is 
            to occur.
        5.4 Goal identification--both short-term and long-term.   
        5.5 Selection of strategies to achieve goals.
        5.6 Agreement with client/consumer on the roles and       
            responsibilities of all participants in the           
        5.7 Implementation of the plan and termination of the     
            service when goals are achieved.
        5.8 Evaluation of outcome of service, i.e., was the       
            intervention successful or not?
        5.9 Possible follow-up to see if change is being  

D. Knowledge of Communication

     6. Communication process

        The student will have a working knowledge of:

        6.1 Components of communication: sender, message, factors 
            that color or distort the message (such as receiver's 
            value system), and receiver.
        6.2 Verbal and non-verbal communication, the importance of 
            each, and the need for congruence.
        6.3 Characteristics of effective communication.

E. Knowledge about Social Change

     7. Achieving social change

        The student should be able to discuss:

        7.1 Factors that promote process of change.
        7.2 Factors that hinder change and contribute to the status 
        7.3 Different levels of change, personal vs. societal.

F. Knowledge of Feminist Perspective

     8. Sexist society and feminist resolution

        The student should be able to:

        8.1 Identify the social forces that shape the lives of    
            women in general (and the student's life in           
            particular), differentiating personal and societal    
            responsibility in shaping self.
        8.2 Recognize instances of sexism in everyday life, i.e., 
            in the media, interpersonal relationships, encounters 
            with societal institutions, etc.
        8.3 Compare the parallel of discrimination based on sex   
            with discrimination against other minority groups. 
        8.4 Understand the multidisciplinary approach to studying 
            and acting on the concerns of women.
        8.5 Demonstrate an ability to apply theory to practice. 
        8.6 Discuss the male orientation in our culture and       
            describe how this impacts methodology in a variety of 
            fields of study.
        8.7 Discuss how sexism (in whatever manifestation) impacts 
            on individuals, identifying conversely how the effects 
            of sexism in individuals tend to maintain and         
            perpetuate a sexist society (i.e., how sexist         
            individuals impact the institutions to which they     

                   Inventory of Skill Objectives

A. Communication Skills

     1. Skill in interviewing

        The student should be able to:

        1.1 Establish rapport and build trust as a part of the    
            helping relationship.
        1.2 Demonstrate sensitivity to the non-verbal communication 
            of others as a source of information.
        1.3 Purposefully use good eye contact, appropriate gestures 
            and facial expression, comfortable yet alert body     
            posture, and well-modulated, fluent vocal qualities   
            when working with others.
        1.4 Listen effectively to others.
        1.5 Gather information, interpret information, and        
            appropriately share information with others as a part 
            of delivering services to clients/consumers.

     2. Skill in written communication

        The student should be able to:

        2.1 Write letters effectively as a means to achieve       
            predetermined goals.
        2.2 Use agency forms to gather data without allowing such 
            structure to interfere with the interpersonal nature of 
            the helping relationship.
        2.3 Record activities in case records to ensure continuity 
            of service (if applicable).
        2.4 Prepare written work in clear, fluent, and            
            understandable language.

B. Helping Relationship Skills

     3. Skill in use of self

        The student should be able to:

        3.1 Utilize assertion as a tool for both enhancing        
            self-development and enacting broader social change.
        3.2 Function with self-confidence and self-reliance.
        3.3 Accept and act on feedback from others. 
        3.4 Effectively express oneself appropriate to the        
            situation, whether formal or informal. 
        3.5 Recognize one's own limitations.
        3.6 Organize time and tasks effectively.
        3.7 Deal with ambiguity productively so that structure can 
        3.8 Utilize supervision and consultation with others.     
        3.9 Function in a leadership capacity when called for.

     4. Skill in the problem-solving process

        The student should be able to: 

        4.1  Identify and assess the problem(s).
        4.2  Detect the antecedent conditions and causative factors 
             influencing and maintaining the problem situation.
        4.3  Identify available resources, strengths, and          
             motivations for problem resolution.
        4.4  Involve the client/consumer in all phases of the      
             intervention effort.
        4.5  Generate alternative solutions and creative responses 
             to the identified problems.
        4.6  Set goals which can be realistically achieved.
        4.7  Identify concrete and action-oriented short-term and  
             long-term goals with priorities for their achievement.
        4.8  Generate a variety of methods and strategies to       
             successfully accomplish goals.
        4.90 Establish a timetable for the work.
        4.91 Carry out the activities as planned.
        4.92 Coordinate and monitor all facets of the intervention 
        4.93 Evaluate service effectiveness.
        4.94 Modify service efforts/programs based on evaluation.

     5. Skill in working with clients/consumers

        The student should be able to:

         5.1 Develop a supportive and non-judgmental climate for   
             facilitating all work with others.
         5.2 Engage clients/consumers in a way that demonstrates   
             great sensitivity to their needs and individual       
         5.3 Table one's own biases and agendas when working with  
         5.4 Maintain flexibility in one's style in order to avoid 
             alienating any client/consumer (e.g., avoiding talking 
             over the client's head while at the same time being   
             cautious about not talking down to them). 
         5.5 Functioning as an enabler and facilitator in the      
             growth/change process of others.
         5.6 Helping others gain a better understanding of their   
             situation without diagnosing, labeling, or trying to  
             uncover "unconscious" motivations.
         5.7 Demonstrate sensitivity to one's own and the client's 
             feelings surrounding the termination of services when 
             goals have been achieved.
         5.8 Plan strategies that will ensure that the achieved    
             change will remain stable after termination of        
         5.9 Utilize follow-up as a means for monitoring maintenance 
             of achieved change.

     6. Skill in the use of groups

        The student should be able to:

         6.1 Use groups as a vehicle to promote individual change.
         6.2 Mobilize groups to accomplish tasks which could not be 
             accomplished by individuals alone.

     7. Skill in locating, developing, and/or utilizing resources

        The student should be able to:

         7.1 Negotiate both formal and informal channels to discover 
             available resources and the services they perform. 
         7.2 Utilize formal and informal networks as resources     
             (i.e., agency-based vs. family support systems or     
             self-help groups, etc.).
         7.3 Refer clients to other resources.
         7.4 Develop resources that will address unmet needs in the 
             community (an example might be to develop a support   
             network for divorced women).
         7.5 Interpret the needs of clients/consumers to established 
             agencies which might be capable of meeting those needs. 
         7.6 Identify gaps in services.

     8. Analytical skills

        The student should be able to:

         8.1 Critically assess conditions in the environment       
             (interpersonal, developmental, social, cultural,      
             psychological) which contribute to maintenance of the 
             problems being dealt with.
         8.2 Distinguish between fact and distortion of fact       
             (propaganda, stereo-types, etc.).
         8.3 Substantiate conclusions with appropriate and adequate 
             evidence and data.
         8.4 Exercise inductive and deductive thinking.
         8.5 Determine what data is needed and how best to collect 
         8.6 Manage and order data.
         8.7 Discover relationships between data.

     9. Skills in effecting change

        The student should be able to:

         9.1 Develop leadership in indigenous populations. 
         9.2 Productively advocate for others in any way possible  
             that will serve to better meet their needs (i.e.,     
             changes in laws and policies, exceptions to laws and  
             policies, motivate client to exercise her rights,     
         9.3 Reach out to clients who may not have initiated contact 
             but whose needs have become apparent to the agency.
         9.4 Help others by teaching them useful skills (parenting 
             skills, technical skills, employment skills, etc.).
         9.5 Develop community education programs as a means to    
             effect change.
         9.6 Utilize organizational contexts to promote social     
         9.7 Maximize one's own skills and abilities to be directed 
             toward change efforts. 

              Inventory of Attitudinal Objectives

   1. Attitudes related to self

      The student should work toward:

         1.1 Developing confidence in one's own abilities and skills.
         1.2 Increasing self-esteem, strengthening self-concept, and    
             achieving personal power.
         1.3 Developing pride in one's work and achievements. 
         1.4 Receptivity to cooperative work and collective efforts.
         1.5 Accepting responsibility for controlling one's own life in 
             every way possible.

   2. Attitudes related to others

      The student should work toward:

         2.1 Respecting the worth, dignity, and individuality of human  
         2.2 Appreciating and being sensitive to the needs of others.
         2.3 Valuing the right of others to make their own choices.
         2.4 Becoming non-judgmental and able to accept differences in  
             others with regard to socioeconomic class, race, age, sex, 
             lifestyle, or sexual preference.
         2.5 Investing in trust building between women.
   3. Attitudes related to change

      The student should work toward:

         3.1 Developing a strengthened feminist perspective.
         3.2 Realizing the fallacy of fixed and dogmatic precepts for   
             understanding the condition of women.
         3.3 Willingness to revise opinions, judgments, etc., in light of 
             new evidence.
         3.4 Adherence to the conviction that equality for women is a   
             desirable social reform.
         3.5 Commitment to improvement of the condition of women.

Of interest to both service learning instructors and their field
supervisors is "Supervision: A Sharing Process," by Delores M.
Schmidt, Child Welfare, Vol. III(7), July 1973.


1. See also, "Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes Students Acquire from
Women's Studies: Published Research," in Women's Studies Graduates,
Elaine Reuben and Mary Jo Boehm Strauss, NIE Publications,
September, 1980.


                          Nancy Ashton

Evaluative measurement is very important to running an effective
service learning program. I will discuss the process of assessment
by describing two different but related aspects of evaluation:

     1. Assessment of each student's field experience and         

     2. Evaluation of the effectiveness of a service learning     
        course or program

Evaluation can be tailor-made for individual students and for each
service learning program. In each case, one needs to consider the
following questions:

     - What are the purposes of the evaluation?

     - What criteria will be used to measure the individual student
       or program?

     - How will information relevant to the criteria be collected 
       and analyzed?

     - Who will have access to the final evaluation?

                  Evaluation of Students

The obvious reason for gathering information about a student's
field experience is that she is getting credit and generally, a
grade for the course. But ongoing evaluation feedback should be
provided to the student during her placement so she can improve her
performance if necessary. The evaluation of the student's work
accomplishments, personal development, knowledge and skill is also
helpful in providing the student with some manageable assessment of
what she has learned and accomplished during her field experience.
Finally, material from student evaluations can also be useful in
entire service learning or program.

Learning Goals and Objectives

The process of assessing the performance and experience of students
is fairly easy and straightforward if each step in the process if
followed sequentially.

Step One: The student generates learning goals and objectives in
collaboration with her faculty and placement supervisors. The
objectives should be pedagogically sound, they must relate to some
public (service) need, and they must be individualized to fit each
student's skills and desired goals.

Step Two: A learning contract should be developed that states the
goals, the objective behaviors to be undertaken in working toward
those goals, how and by whom the student will be evaluated, the
criteria to be used, and the time frame involved. To develop the
contract the student will also need a prior analysis of the job at
the particular placement site, an analysis of what knowledge,
skills and attitudes she brings to the field experience and what
she hopes to gain, as well as what the placement sponsors will hold
her responsible for accomplishing (these should all have been
completed at the time of the student-placement matching process).

An example of this contract follows:

    Goal             Criteria for       Behaviors           Evaluator
                   Assessing Growth

To write letter     Improvement in      Writes reports       Field and
                    writing             and other            faculty
                                         written work        supervisors

Be able to           Test measuring      Studies the         Field 
understand and       knowledge of the    law and uses        supervisor
use Title IX         law                 it in case    

Become more          Ratings of student  Gives 3-4 pre-       Self and
confident in         presentations       sentations to        field
speaking before                          community            supervisor
large groups                             groups          

Feel better          Psychological       Rewards self         Self and
about myself         measure of self-    for accompli-        supervisor
                     esteem              shments, asks   
                                         for construct-
                                         ive feedback

To know              List appropriate    Composes              Field 
community            resources for       referral              supervisor
resources for        women in case       booklet     
women in crisis      studies

It is important to reiterate that many aspects of the experience
will be evaluated. Service learning is especially distinct from
traditional classroom evaluation of students in that aspects of
learning, in addition to cognitive acquisition (new skills, values
clarification and attitude changes) are assessed. The specific
skills and objectives outlined in the learning contract will also
be stated in the mid-term and final evaluations. Each of the goals
of the learning contract will be evaluated according to the
agreement reached by the three individuals involved: some behaviors
to be evaluated by the placement supervisor, some by the faculty
supervisor, some by the student, and most by some combination of
the participating parties.

Step Three: Conduct a mid-term evaluation to measure the student's
progress. Constructively go over this with her providing a guide
post for her progress. Modify the contract if it seems unworkable.

Step Four: Conduct final evaluation and share it with the student.

                   Measurement Techniques

Both supervisors can submit `ratings' of the student that either
follow a structured format of specific questions assessing
pertinent attributes, or a more `global overall evaluation.'
Ideally, on-site observations can be made by the faculty supervisor
in addition to the regular monitoring done by the placement
supervisor. The faculty supervisor also meets with the student
periodically on campus for discussions of the field experience.
Meetings can include `co-seminar sessions' and/or individual,
dyadic or small groups (depending on institutional possibilities).

The student herself can provide important data. Possible activities
include: maintaining a `diary or journal' analyzing her performance
and her experiences at the placement, or a series of `critical
incident reports' in which she describes several incidents
throughout the field service experience. These reports should
describe how the student responded in each specific situation and
what she believes she learned or gained from the incident. The
student could also write a lengthy `self-analysis' of her
experiences and/or provide a `report of her accomplishments.' Some
service learning contracts may include `specific products' to be
completed by the student such as reports, self-evaluations, grant
applications, research papers or even examinations covering
pertinent concepts and methods.

Use of `standardized assessment scales' can measure attitude
changes, skill acquisition or accumulated knowledge. For more
information on validated measure see "Women and Women's Issues:
Handbook of Tests and Measurements" by C.A. Beere (Jossey-Bass,
1979) and "Measures of Educational Equity" for Women by K.L.
Williams, B.J. Parks and C.J. Finley (American Institutes for
Research, 1977), and materials available from CAEL, listed among
the Selected Bibliography in this Handbook.

             Service Learning Program Evaluation

The second area of evaluation may not seem to be as immediately
relevant or important as the student evaluation, but it is
necessary and advantageous for a number of reasons. Evaluation of
the entire service learning program can be used to determine how
well the goals of the program are being met. Information on the
effectiveness of the program can be used to improve future
programming, to make decisions about modifications of the program
for college administrators, or to justify increased funding and
other institutional resources and support. Thus, there are several
potential audiences for whom the evaluation results may be

`Clearly defined goals' are as necessary for this evaluation
process as they were for the assessment of the students. It is
advisable to set `short-term and long-term objectives' ahead of
time and to set up ways to evaluate each one. All (or at least
many!) aspects of the program should be evaluated, including such
components as: pre-placement orientation and training of students,
the process of student-placement match, satisfaction of placement
agencies, impact on students and, if possible, impact on the
community (such as a client group that the agency serves), adequacy
of supervision, co-seminar experience and perhaps a cost-benefit

The program personnel must define measurable goals and objectives
of the entire service learning program, then devise ways to measure
and quantify the activities and outcomes relating to the
objectives, then collect and analyze the necessary information to
assess accomplishment of the goals and objectives and communicate
the results to the appropriate groups and individuals. This
evaluation process must be constructed in line with a given
program's goals and resources.

In addition to an assessment of the actual outcomes in relation to
the planned/hoped-for outcomes, it is also possible to evaluate the
course or program over time in order to analyze the effect of other
structural changes on the service learning component. One can also
use a contrast-group design in which a comparison is made of
service learning students with similar students not involved in the

Some general data sources include `existing records' from the
program, the school and the placement agencies; `information from
the program participants' (students, placement, staff, clients of
the placement agencies, faculty); and `experts' who are brought in
to rate, test or observe the students and the program functioning.

I recommend multiple measures to provide a "rich" evaluation using
many modes of assessment. This will be more helpful to the program
and also allows for the possibility that some measures will
indicate successful attainment of program goals while other
measures may be more ambiguous or may even show failure. Realistic
definition of specific objectives will facilitate valid evaluation
of separate components and goals.

Evaluation of Service Learning Examples:

         Objectives                     Ways to Assess

Increase feminist consciousness  Give students one of the feminism
of participating students        scales that have been validated. 
                                 Could compare their results with
                                 students not in the program.

Train students to be able to     Assess student oral or written 
support a feminist position      presentation of an argument on a 
with evidence                    particular topic

Provide students with            Total the number of participating 
opportunity to learn job         students and summarize the overall
relate skills                    evaluations (by placement        
                                 supervisors) of their job        
                                 performance. Follow up students  
                                 for future job placements.

Help students see the            Have students fill out an 
connections between Women's      evaluation form.
Studies and social action 

The goal-setting phase completes much of the necessary background
work for program evaluation. The choice of measurement indices can
be varied for each individual and program, and these follow
directly from the goals. Once these steps are taken, completion of
evaluation is very easy, and it provides invaluable feedback for
the student and the program.

                    IN WOMEN'S STUDIES

                      Ruth B. Ekstrom

     Service learning programs in women's studies involve
experiential learning through placement in an organization or
agency that is working for social change for women. Evaluation of
service learning programs in women's studies combines the problems
of evaluating women's studies programs and the problems of
evaluating experiential learning programs.

     In this paper I use the term evaluation to mean determining if
and how well the goals of a program have been met. I will
differentiate between two-types of evaluation: (1) formative
evaluation, which is intended to help develop or improve the
program, and (2) summative evaluation, which is intended to judge
the overall effectiveness of the program.

     Evaluation Plan:  Before evaluation can begin, an evaluation
plan must be developed.  This plan should cover the following

      1.  What are the purposes of the evaluation?
          Examples: Should the program be continued?
                    Should the program be redefined or priorities 
                    How effectively is the program operating?
                    Should personnel/resources be reallocated?

     2. What performance standards will be used to determine if the 
        stated goals have been achieved?
                    Need to specify criteria and relate them to
                    Need to specify the amount and direction of
                    change/difference that will be considered as
                    indicators of success.

     3. What information/data will be collected and how?
                    Need to select or develop instruments.
                    Need to decide who will provide information.
                    Need to get cooperation from all who will be
                    Need to decide on time schedule and
                    individuals responsible for data collection.

     4. How will the information/data be processed and analyzed?
                    If more than compiling and summarizing is
                    involved, analytical procedures must be
                    selected (assistance from evaluation
                    specialists may be needed).

     5. To whom and how will the evaluation data be reported?
                    Need to include all involved/interested
                    individuals--program personnel, other college
                    staff, students, business and organizations,
                    funding agencies, other colleges with similar
                    programs, etc.
                    Brochures, newsletters, speeches, etc., may be
                    needed as well as formal reports.

     6. How much will the evaluation cost?
                    Need to set up a budget for all activities.

     Purposes of Evaluation: It is important for you to think about
why you are doing the evaluation before you begin to collect any
information. Different kinds of information are needed to answer
different questions. It is also important, at this point, to think
about who will receive the evaluation information. Different kinds
of information are needed if the Women's Studies faculty is
revising the service learning program than if the information must
be presented to the administration or a funding agency to obtain
money for program support.

     Goals and Performance Standards: Specifying program goals is
the first step in beginning an evaluation. A process for developing
and ranking goals in women's studies is described in Guttentag et
al. (1979).

     Two kinds of goals are involved in service learning: (1) new
knowledge and skills (cognitive goals); and (2) new attitudes,
beliefs, and values (non-cognitive goals). Table 1 shows some
abilities that liberal arts students might acquire in experiential

     Sometimes goal statements for service learning programs have
already been developed as part of learning contracts between the
student and the faculty member supervising the program. Two sample
activity sheets for contract learning are shown in Figure 1.
Learning contracts usually specify: (l) the goal(s) or
objectives(s) of the learning experience; (2) the activities that
will be done as part of this experience; (3) the product that will
be prepared by the learner; (4) the criteria that will be used to
evaluate the product; and (5) the time frame in which the
experience will occur. Such learning contracts are useful because
they help define for the student `why' they are doing the
activities in the service learning experience.

     Another form of goal statements is competency lists, such as
the "I Can" lists (Ekstrom, Harris and Lockheed, 1977). An example
of part of one list, for Advocate/Change Agent, is given in Table
2. Although this list was developed to identify prior learning
competencies of adult women who have done volunteer work and
community service, it is equally applicable for defining the goals
of sponsored experiential learning programs for college students.

     The next step is to decide what kind of standard you will use
to determine if the goals have been achieved. You may have an
`absolute' standard (the student will be able to do the following
things; the student will achieve a specified test score), a
`growth-based' standard (the student will show an improvement in
ability to do the following things; the student will show an
increase in self- confidence), or a `comparison-based' standard
(the women's studies service learning student will score higher
than similar students who were not enrolled in the program).

                           Table 1

              Some Possible Goals of Service Learning


     Ability to:

          Analyze quantitative data
          Build a conceptual model
          Design an experiment or experience
          Develop a comprehensive plan
          Experiment with new ideas/techniques
          Gather facts and information
          Generate alternatives
          Imagine the implications of an action
          Make decisions
          Organize information
          Set goals
          See how things fit into the "big picture"
          Test theories and ideas


     Ability to:

          Adapt to change
          Be personally involved
          Be sensitive to people's feelings
          Be sensitive to values
          Commit oneself to objectives
          Deal with people
          Influence and lead others
          Listen with an open mind
          Seek and exploit opportunities
          Work in groups

         (Adapted from Fry and Kolb (1979))

                          Table 2

                  Advocate/Change Agent

     Advocacy is an activity on behalf of an individual, a group,
or an issue which is designed to improve conditions, programs, or
services. Advocates working areas such as legal rights, housing,
education, environment, and social welfare and attempt to change or
improve existing conditions.

In carrying out my work as an advocate/change agent, I can:

     - Identify areas where change is needed (see `Problem        
       Surveyor' for related skills )

     - Select methods and data which will document the need for   
       change (see `Researcher' and `Problem Surveyor' for related 

     - Define and delimit the basic issues in a problem area

     - Demonstrate knowledge of the basic concepts relevant to an 
       issue in fields such as:

          - legal rights (civil and criminal)
          - housing and community planning
          - education
          - environment
          - welfare and social services

     - Describe the public policy issues relevant to a problem

     - Demonstrate knowledge of the processes of change using: 
          - theoretical model(s)
          - real-life examples

     - Describe methods which can be used to bring about change   
          - lobbying
          - political campaigns
          - public relation

Evaluation Design.  

The design is closely related to the goals and standards. An absolute standard 
will require only one administration of whatever tests or measures are used;
this will typically be done at the end of the program. A growth-based
standard means that the student must be tested twice, once when
s/he enters the service learning program and again when s/he
finishes it (pre- and post-testing). A comparison based standard
also involves pre- and post-testing of the students in the service
learning program. Tests should also be given, at the same time, to
a similar (comparison) group of students. The comparison group
might be students enrolled in other kinds of field work
experiences, students in other women's studies courses, or students
who are taking other kinds of courses related to the service
learning program (e.g., sociology). Sometimes comparison studies
are done only with a single testing at the end of the program. The
problem with this design is that you cannot tell if the service
learning students and comparison group students were different
before the start of the program.

Kinds of Measurement  

There are several different ways to measure the outcomes of experiential 
learning. These include:

   - Standardized or Existing Tests: The chief advantages are its
     ease and that the results can be used to compare the students
     with individuals in other schools and colleges. Another
     advantage is that the results may be more readily accepted by
     people outside of the women's studies program. The chief
     disadvantage is that there are few standardized tests
     appropriate for evaluating women's studies programs and
     service learning. There are three good sources of existing
     tests to use in women's studies programs. These are: the
     American Institutes for Research's "Sourcebook on Measures of
     Women's Educational Equity", their "Measures of Educational
     Equity for Women", and Beere's "Women and Women's Issues: A
     Handbook of Tests."

   - Locally Made Tests: The advantage of this approach is that the
     test can be made more specific to the goals of a particular
     program. While you may be able to use local tests to compare
     women's studies students with other students on your campus,
     you rarely can use local tests to make comparisons across
     campuses. Another disadvantage of locally made tests is the
     time and effort required for test development.

   - Demonstrations or Simulations: This involves having the
     student show others how s/he does something. A demonstration
     involves a real situation (such as watching the student
     counsel other women) or a videotape of the real situation. A
     simulation involves acting out a situation (asking the student
     to show how s/he would counsel for certain hypothetical
     problems). In both cases one or more judges or raters are
     asked to watch what is being done and to use a rating scale to
     indicate the quality of the student's performance.

   - Essay/Portfolio/Diary: The chief advantage of this approach is
     its individuality and flexibility. However, this also makes it
     more difficult to make comparisons across students. If an
     essay, portfolio or diary is used, it is important to specify
     the expected content and how it will be graded. Essays,
     port-folios, and diaries are usually used in a single,
     post-test experimental design and are rated against an
     absolute standard. Tests and ratings are easier to use in pre-
     and post-designs that involve measuring growth or making
     comparisons across groups.

Types of Tests and Measures  

Most teachers are familiar with the use of multiple-choice tests or essays 
to measure knowledge so I will not discuss this here. Instead, I will 
concentrate on noncognitive measurement involving attitudes.

     There are four methods commonly used in attitude measurement:

     - Unobtrusive Measures: This involves obtaining information  
       without the subjects' awareness. It includes the use of    
       physical evidence (e.g., which books show the most wear),  
       archives and records (e.g., who requested counseling), and 
       observations (e.g., who uses certain tools or exhibits     
       certain kinds of behavior).

     - Ratings by Others: These are used in observations,         
       demonstrations and simulations. Rating scales are selected 
       or constructed. These scales help to define the standards  
       and objectives for the judges. In using ratings by others, 
       it is important to be sure that all judges are using the   
       same criteria. One common problem is that judges tend to get 
       a general impression of the student and mark everything high 
       ("halo effect") or low instead of treating each item on the 
       rating scale separately. Also, ratings by others may be    
       invalid if the raters suspect that it may also be used to  
       rate them (e.g., pupil ratings done by a teacher may be   
       distorted if the teacher thinks that these ratings may    
       affect her/his salary).

     - Self Report: This is probably the most widely used method of 
       attitude measurement. The advantage of self-ratings is that 
       the individual has better insight into her/his own attitudes 
       than an observer. The chief disadvantage is that the       
       individual can usually determine the purpose of the        
       evaluation and make responses that s/he things are expected 
       rather than what s/he truly believes.

     - Disguised Techniques: These involve asking someone to      
       complete several sentences or a story or to tell a story in 
       response to a picture. This kind of measure is often       
       difficult to validate. One common problem is that people   
       react to parts of the story or picture that were not       
       intended to be the main stimulus. 

Making Your Own Tests and Rating Scales 

If you decide to develop your own tests or scales, there are six basic 
steps in the process:

     1. Develop a test "blueprint." This should be an outline of  
        all the subject areas or topics to be covered and some kind 
        of indication of the relative importance of each topic.

     2. Decide on the kind(s) of test(s) or test items that you   
        will use for each area (see the next section for examples) 
        and write draft items and scales. It is usually wise to   
        write more items than you need.

     3. Review the items and scales (or have someone else review  
        them) to see that you have covered all the topics in your 
        "blueprint," that the items and instructions are clear and 
        easily understood and that there are no errors of fact.

     4. Try out the items or scales. Pick a group of people that  
        are as much as possible like the group who will finally use 
        the test.

     5. Review the test for reliability and validity. Reliability 
        means that a test measures the same thing consistently;   
        people who take the test more than once will not get very 
        different scores unless they have learned more about what 
        the test measures in the period between the two tests. If 
        a test has a group of items about a given topic, one way of 
        measuring reliability is to compare (correlate) scores on 
        the odd-numbered items with scores on the even-numbered   
        items. Validity means that a test measures what it is     
        supposed to measure. This usually involves using some kind 
        of external criterion standard. For example, a scale of   
        attitudes toward feminism might be validated by showing   
        that women who support ERA or who are members of a feminist 
        group, such as NOW, score higher than women who oppose ERA 
        or who do not belong to a feminist group. You may also want 
        to compare each test item or scale with the score on the  
        entire test or group of tests.

     6. Discard items and scales that do not appear to be reliable 
        or valid or that do not work as you had expected.         
        Reassemble your final items according to your test        

     If you do develop your own tests, especially if they work well
for you, it is important for you to share them with others. Be sure
to explain, when you share a test, the kind of program for which it
was designed.

     Two of the most commonly used techniques for getting self
ratings or ratings by others are the `Likert-type Scale' and the
`Semantic Differential'.

     The Likert scale involves statements which are rated on five
points. (The typical scale is 5 = strongly agree; 4 = agree; 3 =
not sure; 2 = disagree;and 1 = strongly disagree. Some people use
a four point scale and eliminate "not sure" to force people to take
a side.) When writing or selecting statements for a Likert scale,
avoid neutral statements and avoid compound or complex sentences.
Be sure to use both positive and negative statements. Try to vary
the sentence structure but keep the vocabulary understandable.
Sample Likert-type items (taken from the Questionnaire on the
Occupational Status of Women) are:

          No man really prefers to have a female boss.

          Complete equality for women is unrealistic.

          Women need more alternatives for employment than are
          currently open to them.

     The Semantic Differential is based on a set of bi-polar scales
against which a stimulus is rated. Most Semantic Differential
scales are answered by putting a checkmark somewhere along a seven
point scale. A typical item might be:

Women bosses are:

    Good  |______|______|______|______|______|______|______| Bad

  Strong  |______|______|______|______|______|______|______| Weak

 Give in  |______|______|______|______|______|______|______| Stubborn

     Semantic Differentials are relatively easy to construct and to
score. These scales tend to be fairly reliable. However, if the
scales are too long the people taking them tend to get bored. One
author recommends that there be no more than 15 stimuli (such as
"women bosses") and no more than 15 to 20 bi-polar characteristics
(such as good-bad) on which each is rated.

     An Example of Evaluation in Women's Studies. One well-known
evaluation in women's studies is Project WELD (Formative Evaluation
Research Associates, 1977). This was a study of internships,
women's studies courses, and skill development classes in eight

     The attributes studied in Project WELD are listed in Table 3.
These attributes were measured by an Experience Inventory, shown in
Table 4.

                            Table 3 
                      Attributes Evaluated

     Assertiveness skills          Professional/technical skills

     Communication skills          Sense of women's historical past

     Decision-making skills        Sense of women's present

     Discrimination-coping skills  Your creativity

     Feminist perspective          Your independence

     Leadership skills             Your openness to new experiences

     New career goals              Your personal potential

     Personal role models          Your professional potential

     Professional female           Your risk-taking
     role models

     Professional male             Your self-confidence
     role models

                             Table 4

                      EXPERIENCE INVENTORY

INSTRUCTIONS: Below is a learning inventory of skills and qualities
which students may or may not gain as participants in your program.
This form seeks your assessment of whether opportunities exist for
the development of these skills and qualities and your assessment
of the quality of student experience. If you can think of
additional skills or qualities, please add them at the bottom of
the inventory.

Have the following been
increased or affected                            |  Traditional  |
by your experience in:                           |  Curriculum   |
                                                 |               |
                             |Yes Quality* No|   |Yes Quality* No|
|  |Sense of women's         |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|  |historical past          |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|  |-------------------------|---|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|  |Sense of women's present |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|I |-------------------------|---|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|D |Feminist perspective     |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|E |Professional female      |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|A |role models              |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|S |-------------------------|---|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|  |Professional male        |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|  |role models              |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|  |-------------------------|---|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|  |Personal role models     |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|  |New career goals         |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|  |-------------------------|---|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|  |Assertiveness skills     |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|  |-------------------------|---|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|S |Leadership skills        |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|K |-------------------------|---|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|I |Communication skills     |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|L |-------------------------|---|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|L |Decision-making skills   |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|S |-------------------------|---|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|  |Professional/technical   |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|  |-------------------------|---|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|  |Discrimination coping    |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|  |skills                   |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|  |Your self-confidence     |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|  |-----------------------------|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|  |Your independence        |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|A |-----------------------------|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|T |Your risk-taking         |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|T |-------------------------|---|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|I |Your openness to new     |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|T |experiences              |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|U |-------------------------|---|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|D |Your creativity          |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|E |-------------------------|---|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|S |Your personal potential  |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|  |-------------------------|---|-------|---|---|---|-------|---|
|  |Your professional        |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|  |potential                |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|  |Other                    |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |
|  |Other                    |   |       |   |   |   |       |   |

*Quality Scale: 5 = Excellent    3 = Good     1 = Poor
                4 = Very Good    2 = Fair     0 = Not Applicable

     In addition to completing the experience inventory, the WELD
students were asked to list the strengths and weaknesses of the
program, to list ways in which the program could be improved, to
rate their satisfaction with the program, to rate the impact that
the program had on them, and to compare the program's impact with
the rest of their educational experience.

Data Collection and Analysis

     Sometimes available information (from existing tests and records) 
can be used instead of collecting data for evaluation. The chief 
advantage of using available data is that it is easy to do.  However, 
there are also problems. Available data may not be complete or it may 
vary so much from one type of placement to another that meaningful 
comparisons are impossible.

     Once you have developed or selected the tests and other data
collection instruments (such as questionnaires), you must decide
who will provide the data. It is not always necessary to obtain all
information from all students, especially if large numbers of
students or several colleges are involved.  In evaluating a small
program in a single college, however, it is probably wisest to
collect information from all program participants.  Project WELD
compared students in three kinds of programs in eight schools. To
do this they selected a random sample of 270 students who had been
involved in each kind of program; each of these students completed
a questionnaire. In addition, the project obtained information from
50 faculty members and from 25 intern employers.

     Interviews can be used instead of questionnaires if you are
dealing with a relatively small group of students. Interviews are
especially helpful informative evaluation where you may not always
know all the possible answers. In addition, people are often more
comfortable in confiding sensitive information to an interviewer
than they would be in writing it down on a questionnaire.  Also, an
interviewer can ask additional, follow-up questions depending on a
previous response.

     Data analysis in an evaluation does not have to be
complicated. In Project WELD, the analysis included the percentage
of students in each program answering "Yes" to each attribute item
on the Experience Inventory, the average quality rating for each
attribute item in each of the three programs, the percentage of
students giving each impact rating, and the percentage of students
giving each satisfaction rating. In addition, the number and
percentage of students suggesting specific types of program
improvements or additions was shown.  Computations showing the
significance of the differences between percentages and average
ratings of programs is sometimes used in evaluations.

     If you want to try some more elaborate data analysis
techniques, you will find books like Anderson, Ball and Murphy's
Encyclopedia of Educational Evaluation or Guttentag and Struening's
Handbook of Evaluation Research helpful.

     Evaluation data should be reported in such a way that it is
impossible to identify a given individual. Many evaluations also
combine data so that a given course, placement or school cannot be

Reporting Data 

     The information from the evaluation should be shared with others.  
Just who these people are depends on the purpose of your evaluation.  
Typically, all of the individuals involved in the women's studies 
service learning program (students, faculty, and agencies/organizations 
providing the placements) will be given a copy of the evaluation report. 
In addition, copies (sometimes shortened, edited, "executive summary" 
versions) may also be sent to deans and other administrators. If the service
learning program has been supported by funds from the institution,
Federal or State programs, or a foundation, these people should
also share the information.  Evaluation information is, indeed,
often required when a program has received Federal money. Finally,
it is important that you share your evaluation instruments and
outcomes with other women's studies service learning programs.

References and Resources

American Institutes for Research. Sourcebook on Measures of Women's
     Educational Equity. Palo Alto, CA: American Institutes for
     Research, 1979.

Anderson, S.B.; Ball, S.; and Murphy, R.T. Encyclopedia of
     Educational Evaluation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1975.

Beere, C.A. Women and Women's Issues: A Handbook of Tests. San 
     Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1979.

Bose, C. E., and Priest-Jones, J. The Relationship Between Women's
     Studies,Career Development, and Vocational Choice. Washington,
     D.C.: National Institute of Education, in press.

Ekstrom, R.B; Harris, A.M.; and Lockheed, M.E. How to Get College
     Credit for What You Have Learned as a Homemaker and Volunteer.
     Princeton, N.J.: Educational Testing Service, 1977, 1979.

Formative Evaluation Research Associates, Inc. Project WELD:
     Women's education:Learning and Doing. Ann Arbor, Ml: FERA,

Fry, R., and Kold, D. Experiential learning theory and learning 
     experience in the liberal arts. New Directions in Experiential
     Learning, 1979, 6, 79-92.

Guttentag, M., and Struening, E.L. (Eds.), Handbook of Evaluation
     Research.  Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications, 1975.

Guttentag, M.; Brush, L.R.; Gold, A.R.; Mueller, M.W.; Tobias, S.;
     and White, W.  Evaluating women's studies: A
     decision-theoretical approach. Signs, 1979,3(4), 884-890.

Millsap, M.A.; Bagenstos, N.T.; and Talburtt, M. Women's Studies
     Evaluation Handbook. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of
     Education, 1979.

National Student Volunteer Program. Evaluating Service-Learning 
     Programs.Washington, D.C.: ACTION, 1978. (Pamphlet No. 4300.7)

Sackmary, B., and Hendrick, H. Assessment of the experiential
     learning of women for college credit in the area of women's
     studies. Paper presented to the National Conference, Council
     for the Advancement of Experiential Learning, San Francisco,
     October 1977. (ED 155 208)

Williams K.L.; Parks, B.J. and Finey, C.J. Measures of Educational
     Equity for Women: A Research Monograph. Palo Alto, CA:
     American Institutes for Research, 1977.