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GEMM Circles

What's a GEMM Circle?

For people at any level or role at a GLAM organization, we offer virtual opportunities to come together. You'll hear from voices in the field with expertise relating to gender equity issues. These are never recorded, so bring your questions and experiences to share with others facing similar issues. We're here to help!

Upcoming GEMM Circles


The Art of Becoming: Exploring Gender Equity Through Textile Art, with SJSA

When: Tuesday, February 27, 2024 | 4:30pm PT / 5:30pm MT/ 6:30pm CT / 7:30pm ET
Where: Virtual Panel Discussion

Register online

For decades now, women’s historians and independent scholars have linked 18th and 19th centuries women’s activities to a bonded, communal space where women could express their inner lives. Sewing activities, and quilting in particular, recorded women’s responses to the social and political environments in which they lived. Abolition, Civil War, temperance, suffrage—women pooled their thoughts, their fears, their attitudes, and their participation in tense, politically charged themes, and fused them into their quilts. 

Yet this new kind of political engagement was not accessible to all women, but rather to those who enjoyed the privileges of whiteness and wealth in American society. Sewing, in the post-industrialized world, was an activity that largely belonged to the leisure class. While women of color and immigrant women did sew, were mostly barred from these newly formed political spaces. In this way, sewing helped to shape a narrow and exclusionary vision of American womanhood, one that ignored the diversity and complexity of women's experiences and contributions and as a result, articulated a particular kind of American womanhood--one that is still ever-present today.

Using textile arts as a vehicle for activism and social change, the Social Justice Sewing Academy (SJSA) is turning this history on its head and invites all to stitch their voices into quilts that speak to the pressing issues of our time. The SJSA was founded in 2017, after the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, as a way to honor his memory and to empower youth to challenge the systems that oppress them. Through its educational programs, the SJSA teaches the history and craft of quilting, while also fostering a space for self-expression and dialogue. The quilts that emerge from these workshops are stunning and provocative, confronting the viewer with the harsh realities and injustices that many communities face. From racism and sexism to violence and incarceration, the SJSA does not shy away from tackling difficult topics through its bold and visionary work. Join the Gender Equity in Museums Movement and the Social Justice Sewing Academy for an important  conversation about gender, textile art , and the art of becoming. 



Meet The Panelists: 


Sara Trail learned to sew at the young age of 4, and is now a successful author, sewing teacher, and pattern and fabric designer. At age 13, Sara wrote a nationally published book, Sew with Sara, that teaches teens and tweens how to sew cute clothes and accessories for fun and profit. At 15, Sara starred in a nationally published DVD, Cool Stuff to Sew With Sara. She then designed two fabric collections, Folkheart and Biology 101, and a pattern collection with Simplicity, Designed with Love by Sara. Sara's pattern collections feature prom dresses, backpack patterns, hoodies, and jackets as well as aprons and tote bags. While attending UC Berkeley, Sara created a quilt in memory of Trayvon Martin, and her love for sewing and passion for social justice intertwined. After graduating from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Sara founded the Social Justice Sewing Academy (SJSA). As the Founder and Executive Director of the SJSA, Sara actively travels to facilitate lectures and workshops. She is also key in developing and implementing the artistic vision of the organization.

Stacey A. Watson A passionate educator and community change agent, Stacey recently served her community as a history professor at West Kentucky Community Technical College and as the director of equitable partnerships at the National Quilt Museum (NQM) in Paducah, Kentucky. She has devoted twenty years to teaching students to think critically, creating her own nationally recognized teaching technique. With her passion to educate others, she curated a quilt exhibition at NQM titled Say Your Piece—Black Women: Mothers, Martyrs, and Misunderstood, which focused on displaying quilt art to highlight issues Black women consistently face in America. She is the recipient of the NAACP Rosa M. Parks Power of One award and the Phelps Award for Excellence in Teaching. She recently served as a judge for the world’s largest modern quilt competition, QuiltCon 2024, and now works as a museum specialist in Washington, DC.

Dyese Matthews is currently a PhD candidate in Apparel Design at Cornell University. She earned her B.A.A. in Fashion Merchandising and Design from Central Michigan University, and M.S. in Apparel Merchandising and Design from Iowa State University. In her research and curatorial practice she explores experiences of dressed embodiment, identity expression, and self-definition with a focus on Black identity and fashion.


Jocelyn Gama, a 23-year-old raised in East Oakland, CA, and born in Jalisco, Mexico is dedicated to empower communities to unlock their own potential through the power of art expression and visualization. She studies at UC Berkley, while remaining committed to critical dialogues and amplifying youth voices throughout the city, nation, and world via lobbying and education to advance the cause of justice. When she is not studying she spends her time designing projects through Hyphy x Educated, an Intergenerational Hub Academy to bridge art, and creativity with civic education.   


Boston-Area GEMM Meet-up
We're Writing a Book: Come Workshop Ideas With Us!

When: Tuesday, March 5, 2024 | 6:00 pm
Where: Felipe's Taqueria, Harvard Square

We believe that museums have the power to tell stories that matter–stories that connect us to our past, our present, and our future. Stories that reveal the diversity and complexity of human experiences. Stories that inspire us to learn, to create, to act. But what about the stories of those who work behind the scenes in museums? What are the challenges and joys of being a museum professional in a time of change and uncertainty? How do we balance our passion for our work with our need for fair and dignified working conditions? How do we make museums more inclusive, accessible, and relevant for all audiences, not just the privileged few? These are some of the questions we want to explore in our first book project.

We invite you to join us on Tuesday March 5th at 6:00 pm at Felipe's Taqueria, in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA for a lively and informal discussion about our book idea. We want to hear your stories, your insights, your feedback. We want to create a space where we can share our experiences and support each other as museum professionals. We hope to see you there!

Let us know you're coming, and we'll save you a seat!

Past GEMM Circles + Events

Broadening the Conversation on Gender Equity in Museums

December 7, 2023

Alexandria, Virginia

Meet up with GEMM steering committee members Ashanti Davis and Sophie Pugh in person for conversation and networking.


GEMM Steering Committee at the New England Museum Association Annual Conference

November 8-10, 2023

Shifting Perspectives & Bridging Differences: VTS with a Social Justice Lens

Monday, March 20, 2023

“What’s going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can we find?” These three questions form the basis of Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), a facilitation method that fosters collaborative, inclusive, and community-building dialogue. In this GEMM Circle, participants will be introduced to VTS through a social justice lens. Participants will engage in practicing the principles of VTS via a group activity followed by a discussion on the applied framework, its traditional uses, and the ways in which it can impact future work in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB).

Passing the Torch: A Conversation with Joan Baldwin

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Join us for a special GEMM Circle as we talk with author, blogger, museum people advocate, and GEMM co-founder Joan Baldwin about her decision to sunset her popular Leadership Matters blog and what she sees next for the field.

November 16, 2022 
Shifting Perspectives & Bridging Differences: VTS with A Social Justice Lens

With Erin Wederbook Yuskaitis (she/her), Principal for Yellow Room Consulting and Walae Hayek (she/they), founder and president of ROYA

“What’s going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can we find?” These three questions form the basis of Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), a facilitation method that fosters collaborative, inclusive, and community-building dialogue. In this GEMM Circle, participants will be introduced to VTS through a social justice lens. Participants will engage in practicing the principles of VTS via a group activity followed by a discussion on the applied framework, its traditional uses, and the ways in which it can impact future work in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB).


August 18, 2022

GEMM Circle: National Council for Public History 

A GEMM Circle Reflection 
By Anne Mahoney and Elise Couture-Stone

As many museum professionals can tell you, as soon as they enter the field, gender discrimination and/or sexual harassment experiences are common. That was our reaction to the Report on Data Analysis of the Survey on Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment in the Public History Field (“Report”). Given the ubiquity of this knowledge among employees, why is this report so important, and what can we glean from the contents that will lead to measurable change in the field?


To answer these questions, the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), and the National Council on Public History (NCPH) teamed up with the Gender Equity in Museums community for the latest GEMM Circle discussion. Read more about the discussion here:

March 17, 2022

GEMM Circle: How can Unions Fight for Gender Equity?

Join GEMM on Thursday, March 17, 2022 (11 PT/ 12 MT/ 1CT/ 2 ET) for our next GEMM Circle "How Can Unions Fight for Gender Equity?" with Kara Furman from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  The COVID-19 pandemic has not only highlighted systemic inequities in the workplace but created new issues often drawn on gender lines. What role do unions--and the fight to create them--play in raising awareness of these problems and working towards gender equity?



January 26, 2022

GEMM Circle with the National Emerging Museum Professionals Network

The National Emerging Museum Professionals Network and GEMM Steering Committee members enjoyed a GEMM Circle talking about how all museum professionals navigate discussing gender issues in the workspace.  The NEMPN provided a resource document for folks to explore. Download the GEMM NEMPN resource document here.

September 16, 2021
GEMM Circle: Women in Preservation with Nzilani Glass

About Ariana Makau:  

Makau is the second person in the world – and the first woman to receive a Master’s Degree in Stained Glass Conservation from the Royal College of Art in London. Equally comfortable on a job site, at a board meeting or in a museum, Makau has over 25 years of experience with art and architectural preservation. She is a Board Member and Health and Safety Chair of the Stained Glass Association of America and is a Fellow of AIC. Before Nzilani, she worked at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, London’s V&A Museum, and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Nzilani Glass Conservation is one of the few companies in the United States qualified to create new or preserve historical glass works. Explore the company website here:

More about Makau and her incredible work:

Portrait of Ariana Makau, Founder of Nzilani Glass Conservation
Green text spelling Nzilani Glass Logo Conservation with a blue ribbon that says Est. 2003

Thursday, October 21, 2021:
GEMM Circle on Anti-Bullying with Tamsin Russell

Download Tamsin's PPT presentation for GEMM here.

About Tamsin Russel:
Tamsin’s career to date has been on workforce and organisational development and she has worked in both public and private sectors, moving to the cultural sector 20 years ago.

Starting as head of training and development for the Science Museum Group, she led the function and implemented new approaches to leadership development; at National Museums Scotland highlights included the development of their Competency Framework, at Historic Environment Scotland her role was in organisational transformation and at National Trust for Scotland she worked on a comprehensive online resource looking at organisational change.

Her current role at the Museums Association (MA) looks at workforce and careers in the broadest sense. Providing career workshops, speaking on workforce ethics, equality, and wellbeing; as well as leading all the MA’s formal professional development, mentoring and online learning programmes. Her recent research Sticks and Stones: Bullying in Museums has highlighted the extent and diversity of the experience of the sectors workforce and the report and recommendations to affect change to become a sector with a zero-tolerance to bullying.

In addition to her paid role Tamsin volunteers for Museums Galleries Scotland on behalf of Scottish Government on their Recognition Scheme Panel and as an accreditation mentor. Tamsin works with Arts Council England sitting on the UK Accreditation Committee; is a Steering Group member of the Heritage Volunteers Group, leading on the equality and inclusion work, as well as undertaking pro bono and paid freelance work for the sector.

For more insights into #Museums and #Careers follow her on Twitter - @TamsinRussell or email


Thursday, November 18, 2021:
GEMM Circle during the NEMA Conference

11 PT/ 12 MT/ 1CT/ 2 ET 


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