Wisdom Wednesday host discusses prioritizing peace, equality in her own life


In her edition of the Wisdom Wednesday lecture series, Charlie Baird, professor of sociology and executive director of the Office for the Advancement of Women in Science and Engineering, discussed two guiding principles that help her prioritize and persist for peace through the difficulties of life.

First, she advised people to pick one thing and stick to emphasizing it. Second, she said people have to choose a few things to prioritize in life.

“There are two kinds of guiding principles that I return to when I’m struggling, and … they’re undeniable truths for me that help me through the challenging times,” Baird said.

She said she learned a lot of lessons about prioritizing and persisting from her mentor during graduate school. During that time, she found her passion.

“There are tons to do with one thing, and for me that one thing is working for social justice, but my key focus is on women and I try to be careful that is not just privileged women,” Baird said.

She said she tries to represent all women, “not just white middle-class, able-bodied, heterosexual, cis women.”

Although she prioritizes women, she also said she is always willing to help when there are inequalities present.

“I will prioritize the gender work, and I will be a follower in other things instead of a leader, I will try to show up in ways that are, I would say less engaged,” Baird said. “Maybe I’ll call a senator or write a petition or donate some money — it doesn’t mean I’m not participating, but my time and energy and effort is going to be more focused on women.”

Another aspect of prioritizing and persisting Baird shared from her own life is making sure to have a personal life outside of work and school. If people don’t separate the two, then life will be just work or school, she said.

“I do not want my work to be all that I am or all that I do, I don’t want to call this work-life balance because I know a lot of people say that and use these words,” Baird said.

During the discussion, Sara Heiman, assistant director of the Center for Student Involvement at Kansas State said Baird is an inspiration to her.

“I just want to personally say, you do make a difference, especially to me and having a life outside of work and the way to balance those things in my life, I definitely feel like I’ve learned a lot of skills from you, so I really do appreciate you,” Heiman said.

Heiman encourages students and staff to join the Wisdom Wednesday conversation events because they can be beneficial.

“What you are doing right now is role-modeling, that it’s work. Role-modeling is something that you too struggle with, but you are aware of this and maybe the people here joining us today or who might watch this recording later might be like ‘Oh, it’s not just me,’” Heiman said.