Gender Bias

Julie Germann also works with Laura Williams to provide training on identifying and eliminating gender bias in systems that respond to sexual violence. Julie and Laura’s training on gender bias combines the expertise and perspective of a prosecutor and an advocate. They bring a wealth of real world experience and provide practical solutions to the unique challenges presented by sexual assault investigation and prosecution. They are energetic and passionate about positive system change for addressing sexual violence. This training can be tailored both in length and content to meet the needs of the audience.

Laura Williams, M.P.A, is a consultant and trainer with over 25 years of experience working to improve community and system response to sexual assault. She’s the former program director for the Sexual Violence Justice Institute, a national training and technical assistance provider specializing in the multidisciplinary response to sexual assault.

Workshops: Cultivating System Change: Identifying and Addressing Gender Bias in Your Sexual Assault Response System

Part 1: Identifying Gender Bias – Lessons from Investigations and Emerging National Standards


From Philadelphia to New Orleans, Missoula to Baltimore, a combination of investigative news reporting and Department of Justice investigations have brought to light systemic problems with the handling of sexual assault cases. Over the course of fifteen years, these investigations show a pattern of gender bias in the U.S. criminal justice response to sexual assault. In 2017, a series of investigative reports in Canada’s The Globe and Mail identified similar issues with high rates of unfounded sexual assault cases in police agencies across Canada. What can these investigations teach us about identifying gender bias in an agency’s response to sexual violence? How do we know when these practices become institutionalized? This session will identify problematic practices highlighted by the external investigative reports. We explore ways these insights are informing the emergence of national standards for the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault.

Session Length: minimum 45 minutes up to 2 hours (longer session allows for deeper look and more interactive participation)

Part 2: Addressing Gender Bias – Key Elements of System Change to Improve Response


External investigations have revealed problematic practices in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault. Persistent system-wide patterns can impede individual responders or teams. However, these investigative reports hold seeds for making change. Reformers in communities impacted by gender bias have shown us that change is possible. How does a team or team leader use this information to review the local response? What kind of local change may be needed? In this session we’ll explore ways to apply the lessons learned to a local system, including focusing on three areas for impact: policy, training, and on-going monitoring. We’ll practice analyzing data and existing documents in each of these areas and explore ways to translate this knowledge into improving your local response system. Our focus is on preparing local leaders and teams to lead their own change efforts, but the effective use of external consultants and advisors will also be explored.

Session Length: minimum 45 minutes up to 2 hours (can also customize a longer session to facilitate review and analysis of local data or policy).

Part 3: Creating a New Path Forward – Strategic Adaptive Planning to Shift Patterns of Response


Awareness and understanding of emerging national standards of practice is only the first step. How does a local team or leader effect improvement over both the short and long term? Some changes may be relatively straightforward and easy to accomplish with enough consensus and engagement. Other changes may be messier as they require coordination and cooperation across several agencies or more resources than are currently available. All changes in complex systems often lead to changes in one or more agencies. Complex systems are ever evolving and today’s answers will not necessarily solve tomorrow’s challenges. Teams need to develop flexible processes that will address continual, unpredictable change in their organization and others. This session will assist a local team or leader with identifying a place to start, ways to gain consensus among stakeholders, a way to review the impact of changes, and considerations for sustaining improvements over time.

Session Length: minimum of 1 hour up to 2 hours ( can customize a longer session to lead a team and their member agencies/representatives in developing their coordinated plan).