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Archive for the ‘AAUW in the News’ Category

Clinton Global Initiative

2012 has been a year of memorable accomplishments for AAUW’s many fellowships and grants recipients. Last week we highlighted some fellows from our 2012 Following the Fellows series; this week we want to showcase some of our other fellows. Publishing books and articles, giving TED talks, and hosting a national television show are just a few examples of the impressive things AAUW alumnae have done this year.

More than 15 current and former fellows published books this year, in genres as varied and unique as the authors themselves. From Rose Corrigan’s work on violence against women to Jessica Faye Carter’s book on women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and from Emilie Zaslow’s Feminism, Inc. to Erin Winkler’s Learning Race, Learning Place, 2012 was a year of innovation and fascinating research.

Besides writing great books, AAUW fellows have also been publishing articles in magazines, newspapers, and journals. Take Vanessa Perez, who became a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, writing about DREAMers, immigration, and human rights. Or Julia Damianova, whose article “The Coming Mediterranean Energy War” was published in The National Interest, or Michal Gilad Gat, whose criminology articles were published in no fewer than three journals. And the list goes on!

AAUW Fellow Amina Tawasil, "33 Bridges, Standing, Still, on a Fluid of Emotions," featured on the Anthropology News website.

2012 has also been a year of prestigious recognition for the diverse work of AAUW fellows and alumnae. In the fall, Carol Tang was named one of California’s Leading Women in STEM for her after-school education advocacy. Barbara Ann Naddeo won the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History for her book Vico and Naples: The Urban Origins of Modern Social Theory. In October, Kristen Johnson was selected as an honoree at the Los Angeles African American Women’s Public Policy Institute’s Women in Action Awards. Not one but two former fellows won awards for translation from the PEN American Center, an international literary and human rights organization: Suzanne Jill Levine received the Literary Award for Translation, and Margaret Sayers Peden received the Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation. In the art world, current American Fellow Amina Tawasil won an award in the American Anthropological Association’s 111th annual photography contest.

Jessica PabónAnd these weren’t the only AAUW fellows and alumnae who made waves this year. Beginning in February 2012, Melissa Harris-Perry began hosting a show on MSNBC. And did you know that Jane Chen was featured in The Impact 30 section of Forbes for her work on the low-cost Embrace incubator for infants? Or that Chen is part of PBS and AOL’s Makers website and documentary, along with women like Lilly Ledbetter and Gloria Steinem, 2003 AAUW Achievement Award winner? Current AAUW fellow Jessica Pabón gave a powerful TED talk on graffiti artists and feminism in November. And in March, Rachael Rollins assumed the role of president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association. And in the past year, many other fellows and grantees have received leadership awards, honorary degrees, and book awards!

AAUW’s Fellowships and Grants Department wishes everyone a happy and healthy New Year. Following the Fellows will continue into 2013, marking five years of sharing alumnae stories. May the new year be filled with inspiring women, powerful connections, and stories that move us.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Emily McGranachan.

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As 2012 draws to a close, we’d like to take a moment to thank our AAUW members and supporters for your extraordinary efforts to advance our shared mission. Your advocacy and donations have helped AAUW influence public policy and implement successful and exciting programming throughout 2012. As educated women and men, you are advocates and catalysts for sustainable social change, and your ongoing support will supercharge our efforts to continue to empower women in the new year.

Thanks to your work and generosity, we can be proud of some impressive achievements. Below are just a select few (read the full list). This year, AAUW

  • Launched the nationwide voter education and turnout campaign It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard through the AAUW Action Fund. This campaign, targeted at millennial women, engaged members and branches in nearly every state and registered tens of thousands of voters.
  • Released Graduating to a Pay Gap, which uses the latest nationally representative data to explore the salary difference between women and men college graduates working full time one year after graduation and examines the effect of the pay gap on the burden of student loan debt
  • Awarded $4.3 million in fellowships and grants for the 2012–13 program year, the largest amount in four years, to support 278 women at various stages in their professional and academic careers, research projects, and programs promoting education and equity for women and girls
  • Awarded more than $100,000 in case support through the Legal Advocacy Fund to help women like Betty Dukes and Kori Cioca improve working conditions for all women employees at Wal-Mart and women in the military
  • Continued to rapidly expand our use of social and new media tools, experiencing 50 percent growth across many of AAUW’s social media channels
  • Reached more than 600 women and girls in India, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and China through in-country projects implemented by AAUW fellowships and grants alumnae
  • Played a large role in drafting and introducing legislation sponsored by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) that would undo much of the harm caused by last year’s Wal-Mart v. Dukes Supreme Court ruling
  • Started a member leadership programs department to facilitate a more focused approach to programs for our AAUW member leaders
  • Continued to expand our global commitment to women and girls through participating in the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women and the U.S. National Committee for U.N. Women, sending an international delegation to China, and hosting women visitors from abroad
  • Awarded 15 Legal Advocacy Fund Campus Outreach Grants to AAUW branches across the country, which held programs on local campuses focused on issues such as pay equity, dating violence, Title IX and athletics, and gender discrimination in the workplace
  • Saw the dedicated members of the AAUW Action Fund Capitol Hill Lobby Corps make more than 1,200 congressional office visits on protecting college access and affordability, reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, protecting women’s access to contraceptives, preventing bullying and harassment, passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, and eliminating workplace gender discrimination
  • Reached 30 campuses and more than 600 participants with Elect Her–Campus Women Win, the only program in the country that trains college women to run for student government
  • Helped guarantee that insurance companies cover women’s preventive care services, including contraception, pap smears, and mammograms, without co-pay or cost sharing
  • Confirmed fair pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter, leadership strategist Cynthia D’Amour, and former AAUW fellow and MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry as 2013 AAUW convention speakers, with more to come
  • Helped prevent student loan interest rates from doubling this summer so that those with student loans can meet their commitment despite the tough economy
  • Took the lead in efforts to bring the Paycheck Fairness Act to a vote. Although the bill failed to overcome procedural hurdles in both the House and Senate, AAUW was recognized by the White House, House of Representatives, Senate, and the press as the leading authority on the bill.
  • Earned a perfect score on our audit thanks to the hard work of the AAUW Finance Committee and staff. See the annual report for specific numbers and a wonderful programmatic overview.
  • Sent a letter to 10 of the largest public school districts urging them to review and correct their reporting to the U.S. Department of Education of an unlikely zero incidents of sex-based bullying and sexual harassment. Several districts responded.
  • Addressed the issue of sexual harassment in grades 7–12 through seven AAUW Campus Action Project grants
  • Ensured that the AAUW-backed Campus SaVE Act was included in the Senate-passed reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act

In the past year, AAUW and our advocates have had an undeniable impact in our nation’s capital, on college campuses, in our branches and communities, and around the world. Please make a contribution now so that AAUW can intensify our crucial work to break through barriers for women and girls in the coming year.

From everyone at AAUW, best wishes for a wonderful start to 2013!

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With the 2012 elections over, it’s time to hold legislators’ feet to the fire. AAUW now has a high-tech legislative tracking tool to help us take effective and timely action on policy issues not just at the national level but also in your state.

CQ StateTrack allows AAUW staff in Washington, D.C., to work with state leaders to track local bills that affect our priority issues. We will use CQ StateTrack to create a profile for each state, which will include a set of key words and pertinent committees and legislators. This information will allow us to find relevant state bills by searching certain terms. The system will e-mail you when state legislation containing one of the key words is introduced, being heard in committee, or ready for a floor vote. You can also generate web reports that give us a snapshot of what bills state legislatures are considering at any given time.

CQ StateTrack is a game changer for advocacy on AAUW priority issues. Through our policy experts in Washington, D.C., AAUW already has the capability to track federal legislation down to this specific, instantaneous level, and CQ StateTrack will extend that capability to state legislation.

AAUW can embed the CQ StateTrack legislative report on AAUW state or branch websites so that they become a go-to resource for up-to-date information on legislation affecting women and families. CQ StateTrack will help you make quick decisions about taking positions on new bills and leading the charge for or against particular legislation.

Throughout December and January, AAUW is holding conference calls with state public policy chairs to walk through the CQ StateTrack system. If you would like to be involved or have questions, please e-mail advocacy@aauw.org.

This post was written by AAUW State Grassroots Advocacy Manager Kimberly Fountain.

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Research is in the DNA of AAUW. It’s a big piece of what we’ve based our reputation on, and it influences our programming agenda and public policy issues. Research provides a basis for the organization and a passion that unites our members across the country.

With every new report, we make a big splash. There’s usually a blitz of media coverage at first, and then it naturally trails off. But every once in a while, a year or more after publication, interest in the report is renewed. This happened recently for our 2011 report, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School.

AAUW’s Director of Research Catherine Hill was featured on Teen Kids News in October 2012. This show is a half hour weekly news program reported by kids for kids. The episode with Catherine’s interview aired on at least 73 stations across the country. In addition, according to their website, “Teen Kids News is shown every week during the school year in over 12,000 middle and high schools across the country reaching over 6 million students. This is nearly 25 percent of America’s teens — and hundreds of thousands of educators.”


To help make research matter in your local area, AAUW encourages members to contact their local schools and see if this episode about sexual harassment has been shown to students. If not, the video you saw above can be accessed online and shared with schools. Other resources that can be helpful when discussing Crossing the Line include the full report, executive summary, and PowerPoint presentations for various audiences.

If you’re planning on using Crossing the Line or other research to reach out to your local schools, please let us know in the comments! We always like to hear about the amazing work our members and branches do with AAUW research.

AAUW Research Assistant Katie Benson also contributed to this post.

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Today, sexual assault in the military is making headlines as another lawsuit, Shaw v. Panetta, is filed in San Francisco federal court on behalf of more than 20 U.S. Army and Air Force veterans who allege they were sexually assaulted during their military service.

Sexual assault in the military has been a frequent news story this year, in large part due to two similar class-action lawsuits against the military and the investigative documentary The Invisible War. AAUW supports all three lawsuits through our Legal Advocacy Fund.

The plaintiffs in the new suit come from a dozen states. They are suing U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the secretaries of the Army and the Navy, among others, for allegedly failing to protect the plaintiffs from rape and sexual assault while on active duty.

Following the filing, a press conference will be held in California at 11:30 a.m. Pacific time. Daniele Hoffman, one of the plaintiffs, will share her story, and Susan Burke, the lead counsel for the survivors, will talk about the case. Representatives from the two organizations helping fund the cases, AAUW and Protect Our Defenders, also will speak.

Finally, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) will speak about her efforts in Congress to reform the military justice system. In November 2011, she introduced the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention (STOP) Act (H.R. 3435), which AAUW supports. The bill has 133 bipartisan co-sponsors.

As it did with each of the previous case filings, the U.S. Department of Defense sent representatives to speak to the media to talk about how the agency is addressing the issues. Too often, the military has given this issue lip service without making concrete changes, but it sounds like this time might be different.

In an appearance on NBC this week, Panetta said, “As difficult as [sexual assault survivors’] experience has been, we’re going to learn from that.”

He also said that the military has made significant changes this year to address the rampant problem of sexual assault, including allowing survivors to move away from alleged perpetrators, reporting assaults to people higher in the chain of command, and creating new special victims units.

This week, Panetta also ordered the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force to “improve the quality of sexual assault prevention training for their prospective commanders and senior enlisted leaders.”

I’m proud that AAUW and our members are so active on this issue and have helped pressure the military into making these changes. You can take action by hosting a community screening of The Invisible War and by donating to AAUW to support the three lawsuits. Together, let’s continue to pressure the military into making important changes so that one day, the military will be free from sexual violence.

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In June, the Huffington Post named AAUW as a Top Local Nonprofit of the Month in their evaluation of women’s empowerment nonprofits!

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Carol Holzgrafe, past president of the AAUW Chico (CA) Branch, gives Cindy Wolff a certificate of appreciation for her work to improve equity in Chico schools.

“Why are there more opportunities for boys to play sports at this school than for girls?”

AAUW member Cindy Wolff asked this question in 2008 when her daughter was cut from the girls’ volleyball team at Chico High School in Chico, California. The school had recently reduced the girls’ volleyball team from 15 to 12 players, and Wolff noticed that several girls’ sports teams were smaller than the equivalent boys’ sports teams.

Wolff, a California State University, Chico, professor and director of the university’s Center for Nutrition and Activity Promotion, quickly realized what her innocent question meant — the school was likely noncompliant with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which guarantees gender equality in educational opportunities.

This disturbed her. She didn’t want her tax money to go to “support the biases of others.” Sports equity is important to her because “sports participation of girls benefits the entire society,” she said. “It’s good for everyone.”

As a concerned parent and an advocate for equality, she met with the volleyball coach, the principal, and the athletic director about her concerns. None of the conversations led anywhere, so she compiled documentation about the school’s athletics program and filed a complaint with the district. Because her daughter said she faced retaliation at school, Wolff felt she had no other choice but to retract the complaint and file again later.

In fall 2009, Wolff filed another formal complaint against the district, which claimed that the complaint was not supported. Wolff met with the president of the school board. She was the first person who seemed to care, but she didn’t feel that she would be able to do anything. At a school board meeting on the topic, approximately 50 parents voiced similar concerns, but nothing happened afterward.

Wolff used her skills as a social scientist to collect more data. In spring 2010, she presented the data to the local AAUW Chico (CA) Branch. Former athletes and a Title IX expert also spoke at the meeting. Branch President Carol Holzgrafe said that Wolff’s presentation “blew us out of the water. The facts were so appalling, and we couldn’t ignore it.”

The whole branch backed Wolff, and in September 2010, they joined her in filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, which oversees Title IX compliance. Wolff said the filing process was easy, and it only took two days for the agency to respond to say they would investigate. The complaint covered many aspects of inequality beyond just participation numbers. For example, the boys’ teams always had prime-time slots for their games, and only boys’ games had cheerleaders and band performances. Studies show that more people attend games that feature these perks, so the boys’ teams enjoyed more revenue, visibility, and publicity.

In March 2011, four people from the Office for Civil Rights spent four days canvassing the community and interviewing coaches, students, and other school personnel. They interviewed Wolff for an hour. Around that time, a reporter called the agency, and while Wolff was supposed to have anonymity, her name was released inadvertently and included in an article about the investigation in a local Chico newspaper. Sadly, Wolff received hate mail and faced retaliation in the community.

OCR’s investigation found that the school district was not compliant with Title IX. Before the report’s release on June 22, the agency began working with the district to bring them into compliance. After being mentioned in the post-investigation media coverage, Wolff received no hate mail — only messages of support.

An unexpected outcome of the investigation and report is that nearby school districts are changing too. For example, because some of the compliance measures include dividing up the prime-time game slots and adding junior varsity girls’ soccer and tennis teams, schools that Chico competes against also must become more compliant. Wolff points out that “one OCR complaint can evoke change in an entire region.”

Both Wolff and the AAUW branch are very pleased with the outcome of the investigation. Holzgrafe said, “This is the reason I belong to AAUW. We’re such movers and shakers. It’s so nice to identify a wrong and do something about it and have the organization behind us to do it.”

If you want to investigate whether your local school is compliant with Title IX, download AAUW’s Title IX Compliance: Know the Score Program in a Box to help you get started.

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