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Posts Tagged ‘AAUW members’

Last Thursday, more than 100 AAUW members came together for a call hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Council on Women and Girls. In a jam-packed hour, we heard updates about White House activities around science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); the Violence against Women Act; and health care.

We received great questions from our members. See how the Twitter conversation unfolded!

When I joined AAUW last week as a public policy intern, I had no idea that I would have opportunities to listen in on calls such as this one. It made me appreciate the vast network AAUW has created across the country. And participants brought to light how important AAUW issues are!

Special Assistant for the White House Domestic Policy Council Steve Robinson noted that we need to acknowledge the barriers that exist for women and girls as we encourage more STEM participation. Robinson praised AAUW’s recent research report on this subject, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Women make up close to half of the jobs in our economy, yet they hold fewer than 25 percent of the jobs in STEM fields, which tend to pay more. He also highlighted President Barack Obama’s new plan for a national STEM teacher corps to increase STEM education in schools.

AAUW’s research also received praise from White House Advisor on Violence against Women Lynn Rosenthal, who called Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School “the gold standard” in sexual harassment research. Rosenthal updated AAUW members about the status of the Violence against Women Act, which expired at the end of 2011 and has yet to be reauthorized. She expressed support for the Senate version of VAWA (S. 1925) and mentioned the “1 is 2 Many” public service announcement that the White House produced earlier this summer as an example of what the administration is doing in the absence of congressional action. In response to an AAUW member question, she said that congressional action is needed and explained that VAWA cannot be enacted as an executive order. Rosenthal also recommended that AAUW members who want to help immigrant women who have been victims of domestic violence should meet with their state’s VAWA grant coordinators and immigrant community activists. AAUW strongly urges Congress to pass the Senate version of VAWA, which addresses the needs of all victims of violence and includes the Campus SaVE Act. Ask your representative to support the Senate version of VAWA!

The last speaker on the call was Department of Health and Human Services External Affairs Specialist Tamia Booker, who talked about the women’s preventive services that all health insurance plans have to cover as of August 1. These services include well-woman visits, support for breastfeeding equipment, HIV screening, domestic violence screening, birth control, and more. AAUW is celebrating these services with our preventive care Facebook event — join in and share your story.

A question-and-answer session followed, during which members from across the country had the chance to ask White House officials tough questions about their policies. We heard from Pat Stocker, president of AAUW of Maryland; Roberta Guise, public policy co-chair for the AAUW San Francisco (CA) Branch; Lisa Schaefer from the AAUW Vienna (VA) Branch; and Susan Nasrani, public policy chair for the AAUW Hazleton (PA) Branch.

AAUW is glad to have had this opportunity to hear from the White House and appreciates the work being done to advance equity for women and girls. Thank you to our members for joining in and asking such great questions. We hope you enjoyed the call and are motivated to share the information you learned with your AAUW state chapters and branches!

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Dani Nispel.

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We have long known that there are many talented members of AAUW. Our members have risen to the tops of their professions — medicine, law, science, academia, and many others. But they also have talents that are independent of their careers. With that in mind, for the past four years AAUW has hosted an art contest, inviting members to submit their masterpieces. All members can vote for their favorite entries, and the winning submissions are printed on notecards and sent to members to encourage them to contribute to AAUW. This opportunity to raise money is an important part of our work toward breaking through barriers for women and girls. And using artwork from members like Jane Winston and Jan Hersh makes these notecards uniquely AAUW.

A photograph taken by Jane Winston, a member of the AAUW Houston Peach (GA) Branch, was a winning entry in last year’s contest. This talented artist joined AAUW after the loss of her husband, who was her best friend, in 2003. In AAUW, she found a wonderful group of women who Winston says can accomplish anything. In addition to keeping up with her photography, she volunteers to read with fifth-grade girls at a local elementary school.

“Tuscan Window” ©Jane Winston AAUW Houston Peach (GA) Branch

Jan Hersh has been an AAUW member for over 27 years. She is an avid gardener who always keeps an eye out for fresh, beautiful blooms. During a trip to Santa Barbara, California, she took this contest-winning picture of a hibiscus covered in morning dew. Hersh has served as a board member for the AAUW Danville-Alamo (CA) Branch and credits her art with helping her to develop strong leadership skills, knowledge about her community, and an ongoing connection with people who enjoy making a difference locally and globally.

“Good Morning Hibiscus” ©Jan Hersh AAUW Danville-Alamo (CA) Branch

Are you a member of AAUW with a hidden (or not-so-hidden) talent in the visual arts? The 2012 contest is now accepting entries. Visit our gallery to see what artwork has been submitted for the 2012 contest or to look at past winners.

The 2012 AAUW Art Contest will be accepting submissions until January 31. Members may vote for their favorite artwork once per week from February 6 to March 4.

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“Secrets” © Pat Walters Cairns, AAUW Atascadero (CA) Branch

I secretly love to know something that no one else knows — to be the first. In my job at AAUW, much of what I do is behind the scenes. I don’t work directly with members that often. But once a year, that changes. As the website designer, I manage the AAUW Art Contest. After members submit their artwork, I am the first one at AAUW who gets to see it. The first thing I do when I arrive in the morning is check the database for new entries. I get to know the members through their artwork. I read stories of their inspirations and get to see their lives expressed in their art.

A few artists have submitted entries in multiple years, and I have gotten to know their artwork. Pat Walters Cairns of the AAUW Atascadero (CA) Branch has had two winning entries. A retired art teacher, Cairns is inspired by images of children. Both of her winning paintings use brilliant colors. She is an accomplished artist, and many of her paintings hang in local California galleries. A book of her artwork, entitled A Body of Work, can be viewed at www.patcairnsfineart.com.

I look forward to seeing the artwork for this year’s contest. And don’t worry — you can view the submissions shortly after I do. Be sure to vote or share what inspires you.

The 2012 AAUW Art Contest will be accepting submissions until January 31. Members may vote for their favorite artwork once per week from February 6 to March 4.

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Last month, 33 Westchester Community College women participated in two $tart $mart workshops to learn concrete, pragmatic pay negotiation skills to help them avoid the still-prevalent gender pay gap. Women currently earn only 77 cents, on average, for every dollar that men earn. That translates to a lifetime pay gap of $1 million for college graduates and $2 million for women with professional degrees, like doctors or lawyers. The two workshops were jointly sponsored by Westchester Community College’s Career and Transfer Center, the WAGE Project, and the AAUW Westchester (NY) Branch. The workshop was made possible by generous funding from the AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund Campus Outreach Program and the Evvie Currie Giving Circle.

Annie Houle of WAGE conducted the two-hour workshops, beginning with a review of the causes for the wage gap. She taught the students how to find out what their skills are worth, showed them how to create an individualized budget, and coached them on how to negotiate.

The attendees enthusiastically participated in the lively discussion and the role-playing exercises. The women reported that they had acquired new knowledge of the pay gap and new pay negotiation skills. All students left with complete workbooks to help them perform successfully in future pay negotiations. Several older student participants said they wished they had known about the pay negotiation process earlier in their lives, but they were pleased to have these skills for future use. The attendees were typical of Westchester Community College’s student body: currently employed and studying for an associate degree.

Between the two workshop sessions, Houle trained five women to become facilitators for future workshops, including three AAUW members — Amy Small, Jane Pendergast, and Patricia Miller — and two staff members from the Westchester Community College Career and Transfer Center, Director Susan Hacker and Counselor Marilyn Merker. Trained $tart $mart facilitator Roli Wendorf, head of the branch’s Pay Equity Outreach program, also participated.

Westchester AAUW members Wendorf and Pendergast have already put the facilitator training to use. On April 11, they were co-instructors for a $tart $mart workshop that was co-sponsored by the Career Development office at Purchase College.

This post was written by AAUW Westchester (NY) Branch member Jane Pendergast.

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Cuba — Forbidden No More

Less than six months ago, I never would have thought that I’d be making this announcement, but — this is truly exciting — AAUW will consult on an important research team focused on Gender Equity and the Role of Women in Cuban Society.

AAUW is working with Academic Travel Abroad, a licensed Travel Service Provider for Cuba under the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Treasury.  This is an unprecedented and historic opportunity to research Gender Equity in Cuba and meet with Cuban citizens to gain first hand understanding of the role of women in Cuban society. As the executive director, I have the great privilege of leading this team, which departs from Miami for Cuba on October 30 and returns on November 4.

The research topics will include: The role of women in Cuban society? What can we learn from our Cuban counterparts? What insights do they have regarding equity for women and girls? How has women’s education affected their opportunities and lifestyles? Those are just some of the questions we’ll attempt to answer.

As part of the research team, each participant will be asked to contribute to the development of an AAUW white paper and PowerPoint presentation that will be posted on the AAUW website and distributed to all of AAUW’s approximately 1,000 local branches to continue this crucial dialogue.

Only members of AAUW will be considered for the program.   Please contact Academic Travel Abroad for additional information at 1-877-298-9677, or go to the web site at professionalsbroad.org and select AAUW Cuba.

This post was updated to comply with U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control language.

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Shannon Heard and Laura Smiley Miller at 2010 NCCWSLLaura Smiley Miller is a retired teacher from the Midwest who loves long drives in her convertible and motorcycle rides. Shannon Courtney Heard is an ambitious, recent college graduate and budding young professional. What could they possibly have in common? More than one may think. An unlikely friendship forged between the two due the philanthropy of one, the tenacity of the other, and a meeting of the two at this year’s 25th anniversary of the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL).

NCCWSL serves as a platform for young women to learn how to be effective leaders on their campus and within their communities. It also allows women to foster lifelong partnerships with those that they otherwise may have never met.

Heard was one of nearly 500 women who attended the conference and one of more than 50 who were fortunate enough to receive a scholarship from AAUW. Miller, an AAUW member for 52 years, supported the NCCWSL scholarship fund that made Heard’s attendance possible. After Heard learned that Miller was her scholarship sponsor, she set out on a mission to track her down before the three-day conference concluded.

“I was driven by her ability to give without knowing who will receive and knew I had to meet her. I just wanted to say thank you,” Heard said. She described their meeting as a humbling and important moment that redefined her perspective of what it meant to be powerful.

“I used to think that power was owning a number of tangible items or that it was a declaration of demands,” Heard stated. “I learned that it starts with a smile and ends with influence. Power, to me, is newly defined as the ability to be genuine, approachable, and influential.”

Miller was equally charmed by Heard’s enthusiasm. “I had never met any scholarship recipients face to face,” Miller explained. “I only met her because she hunted until she found me. I was terribly impressed!”

National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL)Heard left the conference, empowered, fired up, and ready to make a difference in her community by serving as a leader and mentor. “Leadership is more than a title and is not about power. It is the ability to pull the best characteristics out of individuals and the willingness to follow those individuals once the characteristics are exposed. At the conference, I learned when to lead and when to follow.”

She credits her faith in God and the support of her family for making her the leader that she is today. “My parents are very strong and wise. They constantly push me to be accountable and truthful in my actions, which are among the more important qualities needed for success in leadership and in life.”

Heard graduated in 2008 from William Carey University with a bachelor’s degree in biology and went on to receive a master’s of education administration and supervision from Lincoln Memorial University in May of 2010. She plans to pursue her doctorate in public health and epidemiology. With the skills she tapped into at the conference, she will be able to reach her goals and assist others in reaching theirs.

The trickle-down effect of one’s philanthropy and its impact on others remain incalculable. Although the paths of Laura Smiley Miller and Shannon Courtney Heard are very different, they have the same mission: to inspire women to be future leaders and mentors and to continue to “pay it forward,” so to speak.

This post is by AAUW fellow Maureen Evans Arthurs.

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I can’t lie. I was just a little bit excited about attending Campaign College at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, since the institution is my alma mater. Instead of showing my school pride by regularly watching ESPN basketball, I had the opportunity through Campaign College to engage women on the campus in all the opportunities of student government leadership.

Campaign College at UConn was made possible through the dedication of the folks from the UConn Women’s Center, student liaison Nisha Wali, and members of AAUW of Connecticut. Plus, the Women’s Center organized a planning committee to build support across the community.

Denise Nappier

Denise Nappier

Connecticut’s state treasurer, Denise L. Nappier opened the training in the morning. An outstanding role model, Nappier was the first African American in the country elected to that office. She said the greatest barrier in her initial campaign was the misperception of her abilities. Nappier, who said that didn’t make much sense to her, pointedly asked the audience, “Who balances the books in your household?”

Participants also heard from State Rep. Mae Flexer and East Haven Mayor April Capone-Almon, two of the youngest women political leaders in Connecticut, who reiterated the points I made in my presentation about why women don’t run for political office. Rep. Flexer, who had always worked “behind the scenes” in politics, did not think of running until she worked at the state capitol and saw men her age considering political office.

Mae Flexer

Connecticut state Rep. Mae Flexer

Mayor Capone-Almon referred to an oft-heard  assertion that women are not qualified to run for political office and assured the students, “If you care about your town, and you want to do the right thing, you are qualified to run.”

Regrouping after luncheon roundtable discussions, participants also heard from three former women UConn executive officers: Amy Woodward Favrerau (UConn class of 1999), Julia Simons (class of 2004), and Liz Ehrhardt Gandza (class of 1999). Each shared lessons learned from their roles in student government and indicated that many of the skills from their UConn positions, such as consensus building, transfer to the workplace after college. Liz, in particular, felt her student experience prepared her for any boss she ever will have.

April Almon

April Capone-Almon, mayor of East Haven, Connecticut.

Participants learned the rules of running for office, the daily responsibilities of student government officers, and how to create campaign messages. Braving the cold, they also headed outside to solicit votes from fellow students.

Amy Holland won the most votes during the campaign simulation exercise.

UConn Campaign College speakers

Campaign College speakers Amy Woodward Favrerau, Julia Simons, and Liz Ehrhardt Gandza.

Thanks to UConn for making me proud! We look forward to many of these young women pursuing student government offices. Go Huskies!

Student campaign messages

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