Participants in The Girlhood Project and college students enrolled in the corresponding course all go through the process of creating norms. These are rules that dictate how members of a group should treat and act towards one another. They are co-constructed, meaning everyone in the group is given the opportunity to contribute to their creation. And they must be approved by everyone who is going to be expected to abide by them.

Because the process of norming is so collaborative it allows groups to self-govern. Everyone gets to contribute to making the rules so the individual maintains more power than they would have if one person was just dictating the guidelines of the environment to everyone else. Norms help to assure that everyone gets a chance to let everyone else know how they want to be treated.

Norms are written down and kept somewhere where they’re easy to reference every time the group meets. The document they’re written on is signed by every member of the group. This document is organic, meaning it’s dynamic, so it is kept close at hand not only so it can be easily referenced, but so that it can be changed as the need arises. New norms can always be added.

Norms are an essential component of group formation. The process of creating them is one of the first steps in transforming a space filled with individual people into a coherent group.

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© The Girlhood Project 2016