Weekly women’s circle inspires to lead future female youth discussions


Child Development Professor Shrija Dirghangi is one of the leaders of the new weekly women’s circle group. Photo credit: Kelsi Sibert

A new weekly women’s circle began Feb. 20 with the goal of teaching Chico State women how to encourage and guide future local girl groups.

Shelley Hart and Shrija Dirghangi, two child development professors, put together this 10-week program to help support women at Chico State. These weekly meetings focus on several topics such as setting boundaries, interpersonal relationships, money management and mental health.

“This program is a structured program, (like an) intervention, which we ultimately want our students to use with youth in the community,” Dirghangi said.

One of the goals of the program, besides giving women support, is to eventually train female students to lead similar support groups with young girls in the Chico area.

“After these women have participated in the women’s circle, we hope that some of them will like it so much that they will want to facilitate the same circle for adolescent girls in the Chico community,” Dirghangi said.

The women’s circle is a collaboration with the counseling center and sessions will be held in the student service center room 430 every Tuesday. Each week a new topic will be discussed.

During the hour and a half sessions, “we will be discussing and supporting one another as we talk about important issues for women today,” Dirghangi said.

The tight knit group of about 10 people will give women the confidence to speak about certain topics and issues without feeling judged.

The idea of the women’s circle was based off of a very successful women’s circle that was developed at Ohio State in 2008 and is still being used today.

According to Dirghangi, the women’s circle at Chico State was created in a female dominant department, but she hopes that more male colleagues will find interest in the program and form a group for men.

Associated Director of the Counseling and Wellness Center Devjani “Juni” Banerjee-Stevens noted that since this group is in collaboration with the counseling center, some of the counselors at Chico State were able to advise particular students to participate in the group, if they felt it beneficial.

“Sometimes it’s more powerful to meet with (your) peers,” Banerjee-Stevens said.

Banerjee-Stevens also sees the women’s circle as a bonding experience for participants and a way for them to build new relationships and skills.

“I think that by supporting each other, we can actually give women a voice and enable them to (be) really resilient and to be able to use these skills in their everyday lives,” Dirghangi said.

Kelsi Sibert can be reached at the [email protected] or on Twitter @ksibertofficial