Archive for the ‘A Women's Nation’ Category

via Andreas PraefckeThe Obama administration invited leaders of national women’s groups to the White House Tuesday for a conversation on the budget and other issues facing the country. Just a week after the election, AAUW Executive Director Linda Hallman was at the table with President Obama; senior adviser Valerie Jarrett; Cecilia Munoz, director of the Domestic Policy Council; and Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, to discuss AAUW priorities.

The president’s decision to meet with women’s group leaders — and the tone at the meeting itself — reinforced the significance of the role women played in helping to re-elect the president. For AAUW, this high-level, small-group conversation represented an important post-election step in keeping a policy focus on issues critical to women and families.

“AAUW’s advocacy efforts throughout the presidential campaign sought not only to encourage women to vote but also to make clear that their work did not end with the election,” Hallman said. “With their votes, women positioned themselves to be an important and influential voice in the conversations ahead. We hope Tuesday’s meeting at the White House proves to be just the beginning of opportunities for women to be at the table and to be heard.”

AAUW set out immediately following the election to remind the White House and Congress of women’s key role in holding politicians accountable. We will send the Obama administration a list of AAUW priorities for the new term. These include issuing an executive order outlawing federal contractors from retaliating against employees who ask about compensation, requiring federal agencies to conduct Title IX compliance reviews at all institutions receiving federal funds, and working with Congress to pass an inclusive Violence Against Women Act. We outlined many of these priorities in our September 2012 report on the Obama administration.

AAUW also hosted a Twitter campaign to compile recommendations for the president and the new Congress to address on their first days of the upcoming term, and we have educated our members and blog readers to be prepared for sequestration talks in the next month.

“The president sent a message to women Tuesday that he wants to work with us on the issues we care about,” Hallman said. “Now women have to send a message back to the president and Congress that makes our priorities known and says we are ready to work together to improve the lives of women and families. We’re here to make progress — our vote was just the beginning.”

This post was written by AAUW Political Media Coordinator Elizabeth Owens.

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AAUW hosted a Twitter campaign last week to gather recommendations for what President Obama and Congress should do on their first days of the new term. We asked: What do you want to see on #DayOne? Dozens of Twitter users answered, and their priorities make for an ambitious to-do list. We’ll tweet the full list at Congress and Obama.

AAUW will also send the re-elected Obama administration a list of AAUW priorities for the first 100 days of the new term. These include issuing an executive order outlawing federal contractors from retaliating against employees who ask about compensation, requiring federal agencies to conduct Title IX compliance reviews at all institutions receiving federal funds, and reversing the decision to restrict the purchase of Plan B emergency contraception to women 18 and over. We outlined many of these priorities in our September 2012 report on the Obama administration.

Some of the topics included in Twitter users’ requests were pay equity, infrastructure spending, high-wage jobs, access to Plan B, Title IX compliance, filibuster reform, climate change, repealing the Hyde amendment, immigration reform, reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, unemployment benefits, solar panels on the White House, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. See a few examples of the tweets we received below. Even if you didn’t participate in our Twitter campaign, don’t let your voice be silent now that you’ve voted. Use your voice to hold elected officials accountable.

@HBsmalls: On #dayone, I want the difference of having three more #women in the #Senate to be palpable. bit.ly/YZL7fC

@patrickryne: on #dayone, i want my parents to feel confident about me & my future happiness #marriageequality #noh8 bit.ly/YZL7fC

@ashually: On #dayone I want to see Congress address the VAWA and stop putting women’s lives in danger!

@LisaMaatz: On #DayOne I want Pres. Obama to step up his nomination of women to cabinet and agency positions and to the bench. #AAUW

@NorthernTwit8: #DayOne: Appoint a bipartisan commission to fix our broken election system — no more standing for hours in line to vote in OH and FL.

@MDHillRaiser: @LisaMaatz Equal pay for #Women. Reverse #ClimateChange #DayOne

This post was written by AAUW Political Media Coordinator Elizabeth Owens.

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Never mind 1992 — 2012 is the “Year of the Woman.” Women turned out to vote in droves. We made up 53 percent of the electorate nationwide, and in many of the swing states, women were the majority of the electorate. Voters ages 18–29 made up 19 percent of the national turnout. And one report estimated that, of Americans in that age range, at least 49 percent (22–23 million people) voted. Lastly, women proved to be the difference for President Barack Obama, who won with an 18-point gender gap nationwide and the help of 68 percent of single women.

But women didn’t just shape this election — they broke new ground with many historic firsts:

  • Reps.-elect Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) and Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) will make New Hampshire the first state to have an all-female congressional delegation — with a female governor to boot (Democratic Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan). The state assembly also boasts more women members than men as of 2010.
  • Sens.-elect Deb Fischer (R-NE), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), will break records in the Senate to bring the total to 20 female senators, the most ever. Six female Democratic senators were also re-elected.
  • Baldwin became the first openly gay person elected to the Senate.
  • Warren will become Massachusetts’ first female senator.
  • Hirono will become the first Asian woman in the U.S. Senate and the first female senator from Hawaii.
  • The Republicans retained their leadership in the House, though with a slightly smaller advantage than they had in the last Congress. At least 77 women will serve in the House, up from the current record high of 73.

New Hampshire Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan celebrates her victory.

We voted on more than candidates though. Also on ballots across the country were referenda on marriage equality, educational opportunity, affirmative action, and reproductive rights. AAUW took positions on initiatives in Florida, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Washington.

  • Florida: AAUW opposed Amendment 3, which would have limited the state’s ability to collect tax revenues; Amendment 6, which would have imposed restrictions on abortion funding; and Amendment 8, which would have removed separation of church and state protections. All three measures were defeated.
  • Idaho: AAUW opposed propositions that would have constrained teachers’ rights. These propositions were defeated.
  • Maine: AAUW supported an initiative that would allow same-sex marriage. Voters in Maine supported the measure, and the state became one of the first to affirmatively vote in favor of same-sex marriage.
  • Maryland: AAUW supported measures that would allow same-sex marriage and enable certain illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition at Maryland public universities. Voters approved both measures.
  • Minnesota: AAUW opposed an amendment to the Minnesota constitution that would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. This amendment was defeated.
  • Montana: AAUW opposed a measure that would require doctors to give the parent or guardian of a minor 48 hours’ notice before performing an abortion. This measure was approved by voters.
  • Ohio: AAUW supported an initiative to create a nonpartisan commission to draw maps for Ohio’s legislative and congressional districts. This measure was defeated.
  • Oklahoma: AAUW opposed a measure that would ban affirmative action programs in the state. The measure was approved.
  • Washington: AAUW supported an initiative that would allow same-sex marriage. Election results were still being compiled as of this writing.

Although our efforts to advance education and equity for women and girls are far from over, today we should celebrate all that we’ve accomplished. It was our vote that made the difference, and we were heard.


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The political ads have gone off the air, and the campaign signs are on their way to the recycling bin. After a long campaign, we’ve all voted, and we know who will take office in January. So what’s next? What do you want the new members of Congress and President Obama to do on their first days in office?

We want to hear from you! Today marks the kickoff of our #DayOne campaign. Tell us your ideas for what Congress and Obama should do on their first days of the new term by using the #DayOne hashtag on Twitter, leaving a comment on this blog post, or commenting on the It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard Facebook page.

AAUW already has ideas about what we want to happen — we outlined many of these in our September 2012 report on the Obama administration. We’ll continue to advocate for these policies no matter who’s in Congress or the Oval Office. Here’s some of what we’ll be saying on Twitter:

  • On #DayOne, Obama should issue an executive order outlawing fed contractors from retaliating against employees who ask about compensation.
  • On #DayOne, Obama should require federal agencies to conduct Title IX compliance reviews @ all institutions receiving federal funds.
  • On #DayOne, Congress should introduce a jobs plan that will create high-wage, high-skill jobs for all Americans, especially women & minorities.
  • On #DayOne, Obama should reverse the decision to restrict the purchase of Plan B emergency contraception to women 18 and over.

Tell us what you think should happen on #DayOne, and at the end of the week we’ll compile the suggestions and present them to the new Congress and the president’s transition team. You made your voice heard with your vote. Don’t stop there. Hold elected officials accountable!

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This post has been updated to reflect that the nomination deadline has been extended to December 1.

They were powerful, they were numerous, and they wrote the news of the day. Yet, for all 12 years of her tenure as first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt banned male journalists from her White House press conferences. Why? In her words,

“Too often the great decisions are originated and given form in bodies made up wholly of men or so completely dominated by them that whatever of special value women have to offer is shunted aside without expression.”

This unprecedented and exclusive access to breaking news and the White House gave women journalists leverage over their employers. By showing that women could quickly learn to be skillful reporters on topics as diverse and complicated as defense, foreign affairs, and economics, Roosevelt helped break through the glass ceiling and assure women’s entry into professional journalism.

Do you know an individual, project, or organization that has also done something unique or effective to advance equity and education for women and girls? Call attention to these efforts by nominating the individual or program for an AAUW Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Award!

The Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Award honors an individual, project, organization, or institution for outstanding contributions to equity and education for women and girls. It is given for a broad range of activities, including classroom teaching, education and research, and legal and legislative work. While the award focuses on education, the recipient need not be an educator.

In addition to generous honorariums, awardees receive unique publicity opportunities for their projects and for the communities they serve, including a speaking role at the AAUW National Convention and a national press release.

Roosevelt used press conferences to spotlight her work to improve the lives of women and girls in her era. You can use an Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Award nomination to do the same. Nominations are due December 1. We accept self-nominations and nominations of organizations for which you work. Additional details and the nomination form are available online.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Program Officer Shana Sabbath.

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Earlier this week, young women across the country saw something on their TVs and streaming on their laptops they had never seen before: a woman moderating a presidential debate.

For 20 years, female journalists were passed over for the job. Looking forward, what needs to happen to ensure we don’t have to wait another 20 years to see it again?

via Mark Knight and Jordan MillerEnsuring that the next generation of women breaks through the gender leadership gap is a multifaceted issue, but Candy Crowley’s position as a role model cannot be underestimated. One of the top barriers that women name to reaching the top is a lack of role models. And a recent study demonstrated the far-reaching power of role models in a community.

The study looked at two groups of girls in India: One group lived in areas with only male government officials, and the other lived in areas with both female and male government officials. The study found that the girls who were exposed to women leaders were more likely to set high education goals and to dedicate themselves to finishing school. Additionally, their parents also set higher expectations for their daughters. But the opposite happened in the male-dominated areas, where parents set higher expectations for their sons than for their daughters.

Big changes in the leadership of the media industry — where men hold 73 percent of the top management jobs and nearly two-thirds of reporter jobs — won’t happen overnight. But there are steps we can take right now to get us on our way toward ensuring we have women equally represented on our screens.

First, let’s publicly thank the Commission on Presidential Debates for choosing Crowley as a moderator (send a thank-you e-mail to comments@debates.org ) as well as the three high school students who used a petition to speak up for women’s representation. We should use positive reinforcement to hold the commission accountable to having equal representation for women in the 2016 debates.

Second, look local. In these final weeks of your state and local campaigns, find out if the debates in your own community have any women as moderators. If not, find out why! Write a letter to your newspaper, or make a phone call to the organizers.

And finally, to build off this recent debate’s historic moment, ask a girl in your life who her role model is. Tell her yours, and encourage her to think about the possibilities in her future. Pointing to role models — like Crowley and the three teenagers who used their voices for change — will ensure that the girls in your life know how big their dreams can be.

With these small steps, we can make sure that more girls — and boys — aren’t surprised by a woman at moderator’s table.

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Today is Ada Lovelace Day, an occasion that celebrates the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) throughout history. Named for Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, who was a pioneer in the field of scientific computing, the day is a chance to spread the word that women can and do change the face of science with their ideas and innovations.

In the history of scientific research and discovery, women’s contributions have often been overlooked, undervalued, omitted from textbooks, skipped over for awards, and even falsely attributed to their male peers. Young girls today who are captivated by STEM are not only facing the stereotype that boys are naturally better than girls at math and science — but girls also lack historical role models to guide their aspirations and show that girls just like them have gone on to do great things in STEM.

In 2009, British blogger Suw Charman-Anderson pledged to write about a woman in STEM if 1,000 other people agreed to do the same. In fact, almost 2,000 people did. The Internet lit up with blog posts, articles, art, and web comics for the first Ada Lovelace Day. This year, on October 16, everyone who knows of a great woman scientist has the chance to tell the story.

So we’ll start by telling the story of the woman who inspired this day of appreciation for women in STEM. Ada Lovelace was born in 1815 to the poet Lord Byron and Anne Isabella Milbanke. Encouraged by her mother, Lovelace developed an interest in science and mathematics at a young age. She spent her childhood reading about the Industrial Revolution and drafting her own concepts for inventions like steam-powered flying machines.

Lovelace’s mentor, Mary Somerville, was a respected scientific researcher who overcame societal biases to make great strides in mathematics and astronomy. In 1833, Somerville introduced Lovelace to Charles Babbage, who was working on plans for his analytical engine, a massive mechanical computing machine that would carry out programs by reading holes punched on cards.

Lovelace saw the potential, learned Babbage’s computing language, and wrote a letter to him containing the first-ever computer algorithm — she was the world’s first computer programmer. The analytical engine was never completed, but Lovelace’s vision was prescient: Alan Turing used her notes in the development of the first modern computers in the 1940s — nearly 100 years later!

The purpose of Ada Lovelace Day is to increase awareness about women in STEM. There are plenty of ways to join in:

  • Read about women in STEM. The first computer program was written by a woman. What else can you learn about the history of women’s achievements in STEM?
  • Share what you learned. Tell the world about your women STEM heroes and role models — write a blog post or article. Post on Facebook or tag a tweet with #ALD12. Join the Wikipedia edit-a-thon and add or improve an article about a woman in STEM.
  • Use your creative talents. Science and creativity do go together! Share a painting, write a song, make a video, or draw a comic celebrating women in STEM.

It’s easy to join in the celebration of Ada Lovelace Day, and it’s a great way to show girls that women in science can succeed, achieve, and be remembered.

This post was written by AAUW STEM Programs Intern Alexa Silverman.

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