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Archive for the ‘AAUW research’ Category

For-profit colleges get a bad rap, sometimes for good reason:

According to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), the [July 2012] Senate report found “overwhelming documentation of exorbitant tuition, aggressive recruiting practices, abysmal student outcomes, taxpayer dollars spent on marketing and profit, and regulatory evasion and manipulation. And these practices are not the exception. They are norm. … ”

A former University of Phoenix counselor echoes the Senate report’s findings. She said that while her goal was to help students graduate, she was encouraged to get to know them and then use their personal information to convince them to stay enrolled longer, even if it wasn’t in their best interest. “It reminded me of an abusive

boyfriend,” said the counselor, who asked that her name not be used in this article.

Winter Outlook 2013.inddThey’re not all “bad actors,” as AAUW Government Relations Manager Anne Hedgepeth says. But since for-profit schools rake in $30 billion a year in taxpayer money, there needs to be a way to stop predatory practices. Read the whole story in the Winter 2013 issue of Outlook magazine.

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Warning: The content of this post might trigger unpleasant memories for anyone who has experienced sexual assault.

Last summer in Steubenville, Ohio, two 16-year-old high school football players allegedly raped a teenage girl at a party. The two young men have been charged, and the case made national headlines after the New York Times published a detailed article in December about what happened and after the activist hacker group Anonymous posted a video of teenagers making jokes about the alleged rape.

There have been many passionate, important articles and opinion pieces written in response to this horrific incident. Over the weekend, more than 800 people held a peaceful protest calling for justice for the survivor.

What I want to add — since the alleged assailants, the bystanders, the survivor, and the young men cracking jokes about rape were all high school students — is that this should be a wake-up call to school officials and communities to address sexual harassment and sexual assault in their schools!

Crossing the Line coverIn 2011, I co-authored Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, AAUW’s national study of students in grades 7–12 that showed that sexual harassment is still a widespread problem. Nearly 60 percent of girls and 40 percent of boys said they had experienced sexual harassment during the previous year. One-third of girls and one-fourth of boys said they had witnessed sexual harassment.

Physical harassment was not uncommon either. During the school year studied, 4 percent of girls and 0.2 percent of boys reported having been forced to do something sexual, and 13 percent of girls and 3 percent of boys had been touched in an unwelcome sexual way.

Many students saw these experiences as “no big deal,” and sexual harassment was understood as “part of school life.” Only 9 percent of the harassed students felt comfortable reporting their experiences to anyone at school.

It’s not a stretch to imagine that many of the students who harass and assault at school also do so outside of school, including at parties like the one the alleged Steubenville rapists attended, because sexual abuse is normalized in our society and perpetrators rarely see anyone punished for their actions.

It’s also not a stretch to say that schools should do more to address sexual harassment.

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools must inform students that sex discrimination — including sexual harassment — is prohibited, publicize a grievance policy, and have a trained Title IX coordinator available so students can easily report incidents.

After AAUW’s 2011 report was released, I gave numerous talks across the country. Many AAUW branches that invited me to speak tried to set up meetings with Title IX coordinators. But in location after location, they could not find a single Title IX coordinator, even in large cities with many school districts. In speaking with people who regularly work on Title IX issues, I learned that this scarcity is pretty common.

I spoke at several bullying conferences and events. I received mostly blank stares when I asked people — including teachers and school administrators — if they knew what Title IX was or if they knew the names of their Title IX coordinators. At each of these conferences, I was the only person who talked about sexual harassment.

It was worse when I worked with AAUW’s Campus Action Project (CAP) teams. Each year, AAUW grants up to $5,000 to fund grassroots projects that use the recommendations from AAUW’s latest research report. In 2011–12, seven CAP teams focused on the Crossing the Line recommendations. I was appalled when most of the teams faced roadblocks as they tried to carry out their very noncontroversial projects. The following is just one example.

When one team asked to have access to a few high school students to conduct a focus group and then work with them to create an informational poster campaign, the school at first agreed. Then, when it came time to set up the focus groups, the school cancelled, saying in an e-mail that the focus group was too “controversial in nature” and that the discussion of the students’ experiences might obligate the school to report or investigate the incident “as required by law.”

When school administrators have this kind of attitude and it is combined with a culture that trivializes sexual harassment and assault, is it any wonder that sexual harassment and assault are rampant in most schools? Is it any surprise that perpetrators at school may very well become perpetrators outside of school?

It is time for school administrators, teachers, parents, and community members to finally acknowledge that sexual harassment and sexual assault happen in our schools. It’s time to talk to students about it, follow Title IX guidance, and make preventing harassment and assault a priority!

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face_of_pay_equity_150x225My first job in Washington, D.C., was at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC). The first piece of legislation I worked on as a RAC legislative assistant in 2010 was the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would make much-needed improvements to the Equal Pay Act, which was originally passed in 1963 to prohibit wage discrimination based on sex. As we enter the 50th anniversary year of this landmark legislation, it is important to acknowledge how far we’ve come — and how far we still have to go.

Back in fall 2010, the Fair Pay Coalition, led by AAUW, was gearing up for a Senate vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill had passed the House in January 2009 with a bipartisan majority, and President Obama had pledged to sign it if it came to his desk. At the RAC, I worked with the National Council of Jewish Women to mobilize the faith community in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act. We tripled the number of faith organizations that signed an interfaith letter to the Senate and brought these organizations into the Fair Pay Coalition (some of the groups continue to be active in the broader coalition today).

Unfortunately, a procedural motion to consider the Paycheck Fairness Act fell two votes short of the 60-vote threshold in the Senate. It was my first big legislative fight — and my first defeat. Yet as I looked around the AAUW boardroom during the coalition debrief a few weeks after the vote, I saw colleagues who had been fighting this fight for years, some for their entire careers. I realized that this issue extended far beyond the two months I had worked on it. The truth is, it goes back to 50 years ago, when the Equal Pay Act was first passed.

Today I am proud to work at AAUW, particularly now that we have entered the 50th anniversary year of the Equal Pay Act. AAUW continues to lead the fight for pay equity because even though we have made considerable progress in narrowing the wage gap in the last 50 years, we still have a ways to go. For the last decade, women working full time have typically earned 77 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earned. An 18-cent pay gap exists even when comparing the salaries of male and female graduates one year out of college. Wage discrimination affects the economic security of families today and affects women’s retirement security down the road. Moreover, pay equity is not only a women’s issue; it is a family issue, as women are increasingly the primary breadwinners in their households.

The 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act is a somewhat bittersweet occasion. On the one hand, we have much to celebrate about this landmark law, which predates the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the law typically thought of as the most significant piece of civil rights legislation. On the other hand, even the best laws need to be updated over time, and 50 years is too long without an update to the Equal Pay Act.

I look forward to building on this important work that I began at the RAC and continue to pursue at AAUW. The official 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act is June 10, 2013, but let’s begin talking about pay equity now and keep it up for the rest of the year. Someday soon I hope to sit at the AAUW boardroom table again and see my colleagues with smiles on their faces because of a pay equity victory — and I better not have to wait another 50 years for that to happen.

AAUW will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act at our 2013 National Convention in New Orleans. On the afternoon of June 10, join us for an anniversary panel featuring Lilly Ledbetter and AAUW’s own Lisa Maatz. Register today so you don’t miss out!

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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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Today we release the fourth and final video in our giving season series. Each story featured a woman touched by AAUW — our mission, our programs, and our members. I had the distinct honor of interviewing the three women who shared their stories; it was one of the best projects I’ve worked on here because it was all about these women’s lives and how AAUW touches them.

In our first video, AAUW Senior Researcher Christi Corbett shared what inspires her to work for AAUW: Her mother, a woman who gets every question right on Jeopardy, never had the support she needed to achieve her full potential. Thanks to Christi’s research, we have a better understanding of what today’s moms need to be empowered, whether it’s fair pay or renewed efforts to combat stereotypes.

Our second video features AAUW member Kathy Kelm, who is also the president of the AAUW Action Fund’s Lobby Corps. After working tirelessly on Capitol Hill to stop cuts to Pell Grants and other college affordability programs, Kathy learned that a woman co-worker was leaving her job to go back to school — thanks to a Pell Grant. Moments like these remind Kathy, and indeed the entire AAUW community, that our advocacy matters to the people in our lives.

I interviewed Maureen Evans Arthurs for our third video. Full disclosure: Maureen and I are old friends.

Each time we meet, she tells me of her latest adventures, each one always more impressive than the last. Here is a mother, a wife, and a first-generation college student who is pursuing her dreams at full speed. And of course, she’s just one of the inspiring members of AAUW’s 2012–13 National Student Advisory Council. Many young women get on the fast track thanks to AAUW’s leadership programs, and Maureen is living proof of that.

The giving season series comes full circle with the last video, which features Christi once more. We made this video our final story because it’s about the people who are most important to AAUW — our members. Every day, we are amazed and inspired by the women and men who keep this work going. We cannot thank you enough, but we’re going to try with this final giving season message.

 

Many thanks for all you do.

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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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If you’re a young woman majoring in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM), it can be hard to get away from the widespread bias against women in the STEM fields. That’s why more and more colleges and universities each year are helping women students build communities by creating STEM sororities on their campuses.

STEM sorority sisters encourage each other to succeed in their fields and to stick with a STEM major. Even when the going gets tough, these women know they’re not alone because they’re surrounded by other young women encountering the same obstacles. In the male-dominated STEM fields, it’s important for women to have female role models and peers who understand their experiences and challenge the stereotypical image of the male STEM professional.

Here’s how three STEM sororities are breaking barriers — and having fun while they’re at it:

Alpha Omega Epsilon (ΑΩΕ) is a sorority for women engineers. Under the Microscope recently interviewed sisters of the new ΑΩΕ chapter at the University of Pennsylvania. The engineering sisterhood has given them a way to connect with mentors and friends who can offer support and help plan a future career path. When Penn’s rigorous exams are over, the sisters celebrate like true engineers, building structurally sound gingerbread houses for the holidays.

Alpha Sigma Kappa (ΑΣΚ) — Women in Technical Studies began when students at the University of Minnesota wanted to change the trend of male-dominated representation in STEM fields: Only 17 percent of students in technical majors at UMN were women when the sorority was founded in 1989. Since then, ΑΣΚ sisters have been challenging the stereotypes of women in tech. Says one sister on her Tumblr, “Sometimes when people hear the ‘technical’ in Alpha Sigma Kappa — Women in Technical Studies, they think ‘academic’ and equate that with dull or boring when really it means that before the ladies of ASK go out and play, we make sure we’ve got an A.”

The sisters of Phi Sigma Rho (ΦΣΡ) — a sorority for women engineering and engineering technology majors, complete with its own mascot, Sigmand the Penguin — recognize the importance of mentorship. Twice a year, members connect with alumnae for “Résumania,” where students get the chance to have their résumés critiqued by professional women engineers. Later in the year, ΦΣΡ sisters offer their own advice by writing letters of encouragement to young girls to let them know that they too can succeed in STEM.

Are you a member or an alumna of a science or technology sorority? Share your experience in the comments!

This post was written by AAUW STEM Programs Intern Alexa Silverman

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