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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Portia MaultsbySome people choose to stay in their comfort zones, while others live on the edge. Then there are the people who completely rethink the edge and don’t just jump off it; they soar. Portia Maultsby is one of those individuals. In 1970 she was one of only 46 AAUW Coretta Scott King Fellowship awardees. The fellowship was established to support the work of women in African American studies, peace studies, and nonviolent movements.

Maultsby opened her grant application by writing, “My primary goal for graduate study in the Ph.D. program in ethnomusicology [at the University of Wisconsin] is to become a leading black scholar in Afro-American music.” At the time, this was a fairly surprising statement. According to Maultsby, African American music was not well-established in ethnomusicology in the early 1970s, and her interest in popular music was even more radical. But Maultsby was never one to stay within traditional boundaries. Instead of working within an academically established specialty, she brought legitimacy to the study of popular African American music — and on her own terms.

The AAUW fellowship freed Maultsby up to dive deeper into the aspects of music that she found interesting and underrepresented in academia. Courses in sociology and history expanded the context of the music she was studying. She was also interested in computers and how they could be used in the study of music. In 1970, computers were the size of rooms, and few people connected them with music. But as always, Maultsby forged ahead with the conviction that computer technology would offer a meaningful contribution to her field.

Maultsby also used the AAUW funds to attend conferences around the country, where she saw and challenged the lack of respect for traditional African American music studies. Only a few years after Maultsby endured criticism for her specialization, the study of African American music became in vogue, and she received more job offers than any of her peers.

This photo accompanied Maultsby's original AAUW application.

This photo accompanied Maultsby’s original AAUW application.

The AAUW fellowship affected Maultsby’s career long term. Conferences led to connections, which later led to multiple job offers and writing opportunities. Maultsby began teaching at Indiana University, where today she is the Laura Boulten Professor of Ethnomusicology. Her computer experience has proven helpful in creating multiple websites, including collaboration with Carnegie Hall on an interactive and rich time line of the history of African American music in the United States.

After decades in her field, Maulstby is poised to finish what she sees as her last few projects, namely two new books: From the Margins to the Mainstream: Black Popular Music (1945–2000) and another about African American music in the Netherlands.

With a long list of accomplishments — from organizing the first symposium on African American popular music (Black American Popular Music: Rhythm and Blues 1945–1955) for the Smithsonian Institution to founding and directing the Archives of African American Music and Culture — there is no doubt Maultsby’s innovation has paid off. Many people begin their careers wanting to be the best in their field, but few actually accomplish that goal. In November 2012 Maultsby delivered the keynote Charles Seeger Lecture at the annual meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology, the highest honor in her field and the highlight of her career. Maultsby’s advice is simple: Forget tradition and boundaries, take risks, and if you believe in your vision, take the leap and go for it.

Portia Maultsby was a 1970–71 AAUW Coretta Scott King Award recipient. The Coretta Scott King Educational Fund was created through a special drive initiated by AAUW members in 1968 to secure money for grants primarily for black women undergraduate and graduate students in Afro-American studies, peace, and nonviolent change.

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

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The accomplishments of AAUW women never cease to amaze me, and Dorothy Celeste Boulding Ferebee is no exception. Ferebee, a physician, health care advocate, and AAUW board member, tirelessly worked to ensure access to health care for underserved communities.

Dorothy Ferebee

Ferebee, a child of former slaves, was born in 1898 in Norfolk, Virginia. She graduated from Simmons College in 1924 and subsequently earned her medical degree from Tufts University. Although she graduated in the top five of her class, she met with discrimination when she applied for positions at “white” hospitals. Frustrated by the lack of opportunities available to black female physicians in Massachusetts, Ferebee moved to Washington, D.C. She became an obstetrician serving the African American community at Freedman’s Hospital, which is now Howard University Hospital.

Ferebee left her mark on Washington in many ways. In 1925, concerned about the lack of access to public health and family services in the black community, she established Southeast Neighborhood House. This group of physicians provided medical care and other community services, including a day care facility to meet the needs of working mothers. By this act alone, Ferebee was clearly ahead of her time; remember, this was 1925.

During the Great Depression, Ferebee volunteered her time as medical director of the Mississippi Health Project, a program sponsored by the first African American sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. Black physicians provided medical care to the residents of Mississippi, a state with notoriously limited access to doctors and hospitals for its black residents.

Within AAUW, Ferebee was a member of the AAUW Washington (DC) Branch. She also served as chair of the Social and Economic Issues Committee. Importantly, in 1969, she was nominated to become implementation chair for AAUW’s Human Use of Urban Space study. She was an especially fitting pick for the job since this fledgling program was created to come up with solutions to community problems left in the wake of urban renewal. No doubt public health concerns and a lack of access to basic medical services were challenges that AAUW leaders felt confident Ferebee could handle.

In addition to her AAUW service, Ferebee succeeded Mary McLeod Bethune as president of the National Council of Negro Women, was president of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and served as vice president of the Girl Scouts. But to be honest, the complete list of her accomplishments and contributions is too lengthy to mention in its entirety.

In a quote from Ferebee’s obituary in the Washington Star dated September 17, 1980, the writer accurately said that Ferebee “was the sort of person who enlarges other people’s ideas of what can be done by those enterprising enough to want to.”

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A primate researcher, a cybersecurity specialist, the head of a wildlife clinic, and a tech CEO: If you were a fifth-grade girl in Naples, Florida, you could meet these women professionals — as well as 99 other girls who love science and math as much as you do — all in the same day. Super Savvy STEM Girls = Success is this year’s title for the 16th annual conference for girls interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) hosted by the AAUW Greater Naples Area (FL) Branch on February 9.

daughter STEM conference

Conferences provide a valuable opportunity to spark girls’ interest in STEM. They introduce girls to women role models so that girls can see themselves in careers relevant to their interests. Girls can also try out interactive activities that make STEM fun while giving them the confidence that they can succeed in these fields.

“Our aim is to help each girl feel comfortable and independent in a safe environment and help her reach out to others,” writes conference co-chair Mary Schell. One hundred girls from elementary schools in the Naples area will spend the day in career workshops led by 10 local women professionals. Meanwhile, parents will hear from educators and career experts how to help their daughters prepare for high school, college, and a career.

Not in the Naples area? Not to worry. February and March may be two of the coldest months of the year, but they’re also two of the hottest months for STEM conferences at AAUW branches.

Girls will be having fun with STEM from coast to coast — from Girls Exploring Tomorrow’s Technology in Pennsylvania to Discovery Day for moms and daughters in California — and everywhere in between. Expanding Your Horizons conferences are taking place at AAUW branches and other sites nationwide, including five locations in Texas alone. To find out if there will be an event in your area, get in touch with your local branch and follow AAUW STEM on Facebook for updates.

If you are a member of a local branch, AAUW wants to make it easier for you to get involved in hosting a STEM conference of your own. The new Tech Savvy national program will award grants to 10 branch or state organizations to fund a daylong event for girls and their parents this year. For a preview of what the Tech Savvy program will bring to your area, you can check out the original Tech Savvy in Buffalo, New York, on March 16.

This winter, don’t miss out! Tell a girl you know who has a passion for STEM or take your own daughter to an AAUW conference in your area and help her enter the creative, exciting, and innovative world of STEM.

This post was written by AAUW STEM Program Associate Alexa Silverman.

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Although great advances have been made in the last 40 years thanks to Title IX, the fight for women’s equality in athletics is far from over. The High School Athletics Accountability Act (House) and the High School Data Transparency Act (Senate) were reintroduced this week by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to help further gender equality in school athletics. The bills specifically require that high schools report basic data on the numbers of female and male students in their athletic programs and the expenditures made for their sports teams.

See more of our cute, awkward, and awesome photos celebrating National Girls and Women in Sports Day on our Tumblr

Federal law already requires colleges to report this data, but the same standard is not required of secondary institutions. High schools currently collect this data; it is just not being publicly reported. This lack of transparency undermines the purpose of Title IX; without transparency, there can be no reform. As it stands, girls comprise half of the high school population but receive only 41 percent of all athletic participation opportunities — 1.3 million fewer female than male high school athletes — and sometimes receive inferior coaching, equipment, facilities, and scheduling. Further, offering girls equal opportunities in sports is about achieving more than equality; studies have shown that girls and women who participate in sports are less likely to get pregnant, drop out of school, do drugs, smoke, or develop mental illnesses.

In my own high school, I witnessed and experienced many inequities in our athletic program. Going to a “game” almost always implied a men’s competition, whether it was basketball, soccer, or swimming. Even female student athletes I knew frequently talked about watching men’s games — including attending as a team to root for their male counterparts. However, I don’t think I ever heard any male student athletes talk about returning the support for their female peers, and unsurprisingly when I did attend a women’s basketball game, the bleachers were nearly empty.

Courtney.track.NWGSD2013

See more of our cute, awkward, and awesome photos celebrating National Girls and Women in Sports Day on our Tumblr.

This isn’t to say that I believe that the High School Athletics Accountability Act or the High School Data Transparency Act would necessarily change the reality: We have a long way to go to achieve equality in the minds of both women and men when it comes to sports. But these proposed laws take a step in the right direction. When the inequities are out in the open we can more readily act to resolve them. And in time, with more opportunities and resources, girls’ sports will come into more prominence, and maybe one day we will see the bleachers populated with male student athletes rooting for their female counterparts.

As we work toward this goal and honor the 27th annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day, please contact your legislators and ask them to co-sponsor the High School Athletics Accountability Act to help increase transparency and strengthen gender equality in high school athletics.

This blog post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Sarah Lazarus.

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This week, so-called National School Choice Week, many pro-voucher groups are trying to argue that vouchers are good for our schools. This “school choice” language promises parents improved results while failing to mention the serious civil rights problems with vouchers. I have seen this firsthand in Michigan and know that we can have success fighting back against voucher schemes if we remain vigilant.

In September 2011, I testified before the Michigan Senate Education Committee in Lansing on a package of education reform bills. One of the bills, S. 621, would have weakened Michigan’s public schools by creating a private school voucher system. This would have diverted public funds to private and religious schools and away from the public schools that desperately need those resources. In my testimony, I told the committee why I opposed the voucher proposal.

I said that requiring financially stressed districts to bear the burden of educating private school students, taking desperately needed funds away from the public schools, would be bad public policy and would hurt students. School voucher programs also funnel taxpayer money to private schools that do not have to follow civil rights laws such as Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my tax dollars going to a school that doesn’t have to obey Title IX.

I had the honor of testifying alongside several education experts, whom I was then able to recruit for AAUW of Michigan’s efforts to educate people about this bad legislation. Although we were able to modify the proposed voucher legislation, there are still threats to Michigan’s public schools.

AAUW believes a strong, free public education system is the foundation of a democratic society, and we have long opposed diverting public funds to private or religious elementary and secondary schools. As long ago as 1937, the AAUW legislative program called for “free public instruction of high quality available to all, since popular education is the basis for freedom and justice” and in 1955 stated that “universal education is basic to the preservation of our form of government and to the well-being of our society.”

AAUW of Michigan is working with coalition partners all over the state to oppose these voucher proposals. The fight to protect our children’s right to a quality public education is far from over.

This post was written by AAUW of Michigan Public Policy Director Barbara Bonsignore.

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Where are the women engineers? Women make up only 13 percent of engineering professionals in the United States, and in 2009 less than 20 percent of college engineering students were women — a 15-year low. What’s keeping the numbers so low? And what can we do?

Girls disappear from science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) early: By the end of high school, girls who have previously shown ability in science and math are opting out of STEM courses. It’s not because they lack the skills. Boys and girls show the same aptitude in math and science on tests. It’s because of stereotypes that girls just aren’t good at math and science or that fields like engineering are “unfeminine.” And because engineering usually isn’t taught until college, girls have to reject these stereotypes and seek out engineering opportunities all on their own. Having women role models can show girls that engineering can be a viable career choice for them.

Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, a part of National Engineers Week, is our chance to start changing the statistics. Here are just a few ways AAUW members can celebrate Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day in their communities on February 21 and unlock the potential of future women engineers.

1. Encourage educators to participate in AAUW’s lesson plan contest.

How can we bring engineering into the classroom before college and before girls lose interest? AAUW is looking for innovative lesson plans that get students excited about engineering by making it relevant to kids’ lives and interests. AAUW will give a $100 prize to one national winner. AAUW branches are also encouraged to sponsor a prize for a local winner.

2. Find a woman engineer to share her experiences with local girls.

Girls need role models who can break the mold and show them that engineers come from all backgrounds. Hearing from diverse and successful women engineers shows girls that engineering incorporates many different types of skills — not just solving equations or using computer programs but also employing creativity, innovation, and teamwork.

3. Partner with girls’ groups in your area.

Girls’ groups and organizations can provide great outlets to explore engineering careers in an encouraging environment free from bias. AAUW branches are encouraged to partner with local chapters of groups like the Girl Scouts, the Association for Women in Science, Girls Excelling in Math and Science, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and Girls Inc. to teach girls about their potential in STEM careers. For ideas, visit the National Engineers Week Foundation list of resources and AAUW’s own activities and resources page for girls.

This February, let’s work together to celebrate the “G” in “engineer.” Have more ideas about how to introduce girls to engineering or honor the achievements of women engineers? Let us know in the comments!

This post was written by AAUW STEM Program Associate Alexa Silverman.

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AAUW has made tremendous strides for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) since our founding more than 130 years ago. Over the years, we have produced cutting-edge research, convened discussions with key policy makers, and supported leading female thinkers like scientist Marie Curie and astronauts Judith Resnik and Mae Jemison through our fellowships and grants. Now, with a new STEM partnership and expanded programs for girls throughout the country, our work won’t slow down in 2013.

Here’s a look at what’s ahead.

 

Partnership with STEMconnector
AAUW is proud to announce that we have become a nonprofit sponsor of STEMconnector, an organization that works to bring together companies, nonprofit groups, and policy makers focused on building diversity in STEM. On January 30, 2013, AAUW will host a town hall discussion on STEMconnector’s latest research report, which analyzes the STEM job market and aims to help connect students to employers. From AAUW’s own research, we know how crucial it is to encourage more women to consider careers in STEM, and we’re excited to join STEMconnector in this endeavor.

Expanding STEM Programs for Girls

AAUW is pleased to kick off 2013 by expanding Tech Trek and Tech Savvy, two wildly successful programs that started at the branch and state levels, to reach girls nationwide:

Tech Trek
This year, Tech Trek summer camps will go nationwide with the addition of five new sites. Tech Trek has inspired more than 9,000 campers since it was founded in 2008 in California. These camps take 12- and 13-year-old girls on a weeklong “trek” to a local college campus for a chance to explore their potential in science and technology. Girls connect with role models through interactive classes, field trips, and workshops led by women professionals. And the camp draws some outstanding experts: Tech Trek campers have heard from many amazing role models, like the late astronaut Sally Ride and former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz.

The new camps will launch in Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington, including in rural areas where programs like Tech Trek are most needed.

Tech Savvy
AAUW’s Tech Savvy program is a day of hands-on STEM workshops and informational sessions for sixth–ninth grade girls and their parents. The conference spurs excitement about STEM and gives girls the inspiration they need to pursue that interest through high school and college. AAUW will be expanding the highly successful program — which launched in Buffalo, New York, in 2006 — with the support of Tech Savvy founder Tamara Brown, who just last year was recognized by the White House for her efforts to increase the number of women engaged in STEM. AAUW is proud that Praxair Inc.’s sponsorship has made it possible to launch Tech Savvy at 10 pilot sites in the coming year.

In a world where gender bias and stereotypes prevent girls from pursuing STEM, these programs really matter. Tech Trek and Tech Savvy help girls at a critical time in their lives: right before they enter high school and begin to choose their educational paths. And the partnership with STEMconnector strengthens our efforts to make STEM fields more accessible for women in the workplace. 2013 is just the start for AAUW and STEM!

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