An organization like no other, the Young Women’s Club of DSHS has sparked popularity among female students as they are ready to promote the “resilience” and “empowerment” of women, co-founder junior Gwyneth Pietrzyk said.
During the football season, Hi-Steppers Pietrzyk, senior Rylee Matousek, and junior Sky Turner created the idea to form this organization on a bus ride to a varsity game. Finally, in the second semester of this year, the co-founders were able to officially begin the club.
Pietrzyk and Turner said they were inspired by Pietrzyk’s mother, her mother’s boss, Matousek, Ms. Sara-Jane Shepperd (the sponsor of the club), and by each other to start this organization. Pietrzyk’s mother and her co-workers explained to Gwyneth the “diversity of women and men in the workplace”.
“Women are not looked at the same as men [in society],” Pietrzyk, who works at Homespun Kitchen and Bar, said.
One of the driving forces that Pietrzyk was influenced by is the fact that most female high school students don’t realize this “phenomenon” between men and women “until it’s too late”. By starting the Young Women’s Club, Pietrzyk hopes to teach her peers “how to be powerful in society”, not as woman, but as a person.
The Young Women’s Club held its first meeting March 8 with over 40 female students from all grade levels in attendance. The founders were shocked.
“We didn’t know [what] the turnout would be,” Turner said.
Turner said when they walked into the meeting, she could “feel the love and the energy” of all the new members.
For the activities of the Young Women’s Club, the trio wants to contribute to Dripping Springs with community projects and networking events. However, they first want to work with the Dripping Springs Women’s Club with their luncheons where working women discuss a variety of topics such as politics, their interests, along with events like fashion shows and legislative sessions.
The group is ready to volunteer and to contribute to the Women’s Club because overall, both organizations are striving for the “same goals and ambitions”, according to Pietrzyk. The founders also want to seek working women outside the Women’s Club, especially entrepreneurs, to arrange a local seminar or luncheon for these speakers to discuss their jobs, their education, how they became successful, and how they overcame adversity. Pietrzyk explained that for this semester, the club will stay in the Dripping Springs community “to build a foundation”, but they plan to expand to the Austin community next year.
However, along with the Young Women’s Club receiving a positive reaction from the female students, Turner and Pietrzyk explain that the club has also received a negative reaction, specifically from the male student body. Pietrzyk said that in her debate class, male students have negatively commented on the organization, showing they’re not fans of her club. Also, Turner has received feedback from male students saying the Young Women’s Club is unnecessary, often with comments such as “Why are you guys doing that? We don’t need that.”
The two girls even said that on Twitter, male students are now wanting to create a Gentlemen’s Club, and Pietrzyk and Turner gladly welcome it. They support the men creating an organization that they’re passionate about in order to seek their goals. Yet, the women do not want a “barrier” or any kind of “tension” between the genders. Pietrzyk believes that the male student body is misunderstanding the club’s intentions as being solely about feminism, but that’s inaccurate. Even though Turner and Pietrzyk identify as feminists, they are not forcing feminists beliefs upon others.
“We don’t want to hurt anybody else. We’re just trying to have fun,” Turner said.
Moving forward from the first meeting, the club is still expecting new members to join, including the 40 plus who showed interest March 8. Turner and Pietrzyk are expecting for the club to expand in size and popularity, as they will not turn down any female student who shows interest; they welcome all students to come and participate. They ask all students interested in becoming a member to provide a $5 fee in order to fund luncheons and events, as well as for all members to participate in an event about every three months. The founders also plan on giving the members certificates to verify their membership and community service time for when they apply to colleges.
“[Our goals are] to change how people view each other and to [understand] and [accept] people of all pathways of life and culture and races,” Pietrzyk said. “[High school] is so much easier when you’re surrounded by people who share the same passion and goals as you do.”
The founders hope to make young women realize how large of a role women play in society and for them to “see their value”. Pietrzyk states how crucial it is for women to learn this at young age than later before they “move into their future”.
The next meeting for the Young Women’s Club will be March 29, and the meet and greet will take place at Thyme and Dough on the first weekend of April.
Written by Alyssa Weinstein, Staff Writer