Unite and Inspire: Inside the club dedicated to empowering women at Bucknell

‘We’re still far from full equality’

In an effort to make Bucknell a launchpad for women to excel in their careers, some of Bucknell's women formed the club Unite & Inspire (U&I), formerly known as ATHENA. To understand more of what they do on campus, we asked the president of the club, Caldwell Harden, a Junior and Political Science and Economics major, a little about it.

What is U&I?

We're a group that really works to develop women leaders. We have three main branches we work for: empowerment and education of women on this campus, and philanthropy outreach as well. Both within our community and in the greater Susquehanna Valley community.

What’s the goal of U&I?

To have an outlet for women to feel comfortable coming to us on this campus. Not necessarily with issues, but just what they’re experiencing. We then see how we can maybe change that and learn from it.

Caldwell Harden in front of the 'Proud to Be' campaign

Caldwell Harden in front of the 'Proud to Be' campaign

What’s the history of the club?

Athena was originally founded at Bucknell in spring of 2015, so it’s still a relatively young club. I would argue, though, that in the short amount of time we’ve been here we’ve really had a big impact. We’ve grown in membership, and that has really inspired (no pun intended) a change in the past few years, including the name change.

Why did the board decide to change the name from ATHENA to U&I?

We made a conscious decision that we want both men and women to be included in the discussion, and we felt that the name ATHENA, since Athena was a Greek Goddess, may make some men feel like they can’t participate, or that we were being exclusive. We also wanted to be open to different gender identities. We realize it’s not black and white, but that people fall many places on the spectrum.

What demographics generally show up to meetings?

We are primarily female, and we do skew towards the younger years. I would say that's because as people get older they commit to fewer clubs, and they usually take leadership positions in that club so they don’t really have time to be part of more clubs. I would also say that we have more first year members because they’re new on this campus and they’re looking for a way to meet more people outside of their halls.

Last year's executive board at Pennsylvania's Conference for Women

Last year's executive board at Pennsylvania's Conference for Women

What kind of events (fundraising, charity, debates, etc.) does U&I hold to reach its goal?

We host a fitness fundraiser that benefits 'Family Planning Plus.' We also do different activities. Last year we did a blanket making activity for children in hospitals.

We also do an alumni dinner every year where graduates come back and talk about their experiences and what it's like to be a woman advancing in the workplace.

Does U&I identify as a feminist club?


Why do you feel it’s necessary at Bucknell?

I would say it’s necessary everywhere. We’re still far from full equality. Until we reach that, there will always be a need for something like this.

Every year, U&I's membership expands, and though it's only two years old, it's one of the fastest growing clubs on campus. The women hold meetings in the IEA Multipurpose Room every other Tuesday at five in the evening.

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