Community Productions

2009: Rethinking Assumptions: The Quest For Gender Equity In East Central Illinois


A radio documentary created by University High School students looks at how the fight for gender equity took place in Central Illinois.

“Rethinking Assumptions: The Quest for Gender Equity in East Central Illinois” features interviews with 13 women and two men who discuss how the struggle for gender equity has left an imprint on their lives. Students in the class of 2012 conducted the interviews.

Some of the interviewees experienced discrimination or missed opportunities because of gender bias. Others worked to end this discrimination.

Janet Morford, the Uni High teacher who supervised the project along with WILL-AM’s Dave Dickey, said she found it interesting that many women in Champaign and Urbana had come here because of the UI, but had been unable to work on campus because their husbands were employed by the UI. “So many talented women came here and had to reinvent themselves because of the university’s nepotism policy,” she said.

“Another interesting thing we saw in the interviews was the tension between gender and race,” Morford said. “We found that some people were torn between loyalty to members of their racial group and to their gender.”

Some African-American women suggested that it was more important to stand up to racism, and to stand by African-American men, than to confront gender bias. Others spoke compellingly of the double burden of having their capabilities questioned on the grounds of race and gender, and recalled how these attitudes on the parts of others only strengthened their own determination to excel, she said.

The documentary will be broadcast on WILL-AM (580) at 11 a.m. July 3 and at 6 p.m. July 25. The program also looks at how reproductive rights and women’s safety mobilized people on college campuses in recent years.