Announcing The 2011 Women's Debate Institute

There are too few women in debate. There is no shortage of potential explanations for this phenomenon-lack of female role models, difficulty in a confrontational learning environment, sexism in society, lower speaker points or even male students in the activity. While many have attempted to pinpoint the causes, there is a group I’ve been working with for several years that attempts to correct the imbalance between men and women in debate.

The Women’s Debate Institute (WDI) is committed to developing a community of women in high school and college debate. As part of that goal, they host a four day camp every summer to combine technical skills development with community building. This summer the camp will run from August 7-10 and will be held at the Koinonia Retreat Center in South Haven, Minnesota.

There are two main benefits of the WDI I’d like to highlight. First, it offers an extension track for women who have attended other institutes and, with a student to staff ration of 3:1, each student gets a chance to hone skills that they’ve acquired over the summer. Even if you’ve already spent much of your summer at a camp, the WDI combines debate work with activities to enjoy the Retreat Center and the other women at the camp.

The second benefit of the WDI is that there are tons of scholarship opportunities for both travel and tuition for the camp. If you’re interested in attending, the WDI does their absolute best to make sure that you are able. There are six different types of scholarships so it’s just a matter of finding the one that works best for you. Information about scholarships can be found at the website when you are ready to fill out your application.

No matter what the proximate causes for the scarcity of women in debate, the WDI creates a support network to reinforce female participation and address concerns as they come up. I would encourage any women in the high school community attending institutes this summer to consider the Women’s Debate Institute.

For more information visit the website:

This is a guest post by Carly Wunderlich, a debate coach at Gonzaga University and a former National Debate Tournament Champion debater from Michigan State University.