In addition, Thomas says, CEW is "the watchdog around the university for policies and practices that may not be in the best interests of women." Thomas is chair of the President's Advisory Committee on Women, which does everything from track statistics on women faculty--for example, how many receive tenure--to reviewing how the U-M responds to cases of sexual assault.
When CEW opened its doors, the idea of a woman presiding over the university seemed as remote as the possibility of a black president of the United States. Given the dramatic advances since then, where does a women's center fit in? Thomas's response, in brief: it's still not a level playing field. Yes, women now hold powerful and prestigious positions, but, much more than men, they often do double and sometimes triple duty--hefting most of the responsibility of raising their kids and, increasingly, assisting aging parents.
In the early years, Thomas reflects, CEW "served primarily a group of women who were faculty spouses or graduate school spouses." Today, "we're seeing a broader constituency--not to mention males--but a whole lot more low-income constituency."