Cal Poly was the last of the California State Universities to open a women’s center, called Women's Programs in 1994 under the Student Life & Leadership Department. Women's Programs was located in the University Union and provided educational events and workshops geared towards supporting and empowering women.
In 1998, Safer (Cal Poly’s sexual assault response program) moved under Women’s Programs. It remained a part of Women’s Programs until 2011, when it became an independent program/center. Both centers shared the same space in the University Union.
On February 14, 2011, Women's Programs changed its name and became the Gender Equity Center (GEC). The GEC added aspects of positive masculinity, gender socialization, and wellness to its programming in order to be more inclusive to students of all genders and current events.
In July 2013, the Student Life & Leadership department went through restructuring and became part of the Dean of Students (DOS) Office. With this change, the GEC, Pride Center, and Multicultural Center, joined together to form the Cross Cultural Centers (CCCs) under the DOS office. The Cross Cultural Centers aimed to provide support, advocacy, and empowerment for underrepresented students and the Cal Poly community.
In 2014, the Gender Equity Center received its very own space within the University Union. On April 8, 2015, the Gender Equity Center had a Grand Opening to celebrate not only a new home, but new programming style! In order to meet the vision of the CCCs, the GEC started tailoring its programs, events, and services to serve and support women and feminist students on campus, while continuing to educate on gender socialization and positive masculinity.
With an ever-evolving understanding of gender and an ever-present desire to work towards equity and justice, the GEC adopted the use of "womxn" spelled with the "x." More than a quibble over language, the "x" is a deliberate intervention that makes us stop and think about the word "womxn:" what society considers a womxn, and groups who have been historically and systemically excluded from femininity and womxnhood such as trans womxn and womxn of color.
In 2019, the GEC along with the other centers and programs in the CCCs moved to join the Dream Center and the Black Academic Excellence Center (BAEC) under the Division of Student Affairs. In 2020, they became a new unit called Student Diversity and Belonging (SDAB). Together, SDAB's six centers and programs continue to center underrepresented and marginalized students on campus in intersectional and justice-oriented ways.