Posts Tagged ‘AAUW’

Big Changes Are on Their Way!

AAUW is launching a new website on February 20 — and we’re bringing our blog home to live on aauw.org where it belongs. But that means that some recent comments may be lost in the transition. We hate to lose any reactions to our posts, but we’re sure the fresh new look and ease of use that come with the update will be worth it. Be sure to update your bookmarks to aauw.org/blog on February 20. Thanks for being a part of our online community — we’ll see you on the new site!

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Last week, AAUW hosted a panel discussion at our national office on our groundbreaking research report Graduating to a Pay Gap: The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation. In addition to a live audience, the panel reached viewers at more than 60 watch parties across the nation during the live webcast. These events were hosted by AAUW student organizations, college and university women’s studies departments, groups of students and faculty on AAUW college/university partner member campuses, AAUW branches, and individuals interested in the report. Students at these watch parties also joined the discussion by tweeting questions for panelists using the hash tag #GapAndGown.

George Mason University students watched the live webcast of AAUW’s Graduating to a Pay Gap panel discussion.

The Women and Gender Studies Center at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, hosted a watch party on campus for 11 attendees, including undergraduate students, graduate students, and members of George Mason’s Feminist Student Organization. Marisa Allison, graduate assistant for the Women and Gender Studies Center and organizer of the watch party, said students were shocked and “appropriately distressed” by the findings of the research report because they now know that “the gender wage gap is something that will affect them as soon as they graduate.” Students at the watch party found the panelists’ suggestions for what students could do (like negotiate salaries) to combat the effects of the wage gap as they move into the job market to be particularly interesting and useful. Other students were happy to have the report as a resource “to turn to when others argue with them about the existence of the wage gap.”

Students at the University of California, Merced’s watch party found the report insightful and eye-opening, as many of them did not know that the pay gap exists. Amanda Lee, a student attendee, said, “Before this event, I believed that when I’m done with my schooling, I would receive a good paying salary from the career I want.” But because of the research, Lee realized that she might be affected by “a pay gap that has nothing to do with my abilities or skill.”

We hope that other campuses and students join George Mason and UC Merced in using

George Mason University’s Women and Gender Studies Center used flyers to promote their watch party.

Graduating to a Pay Gap to spark conversation about fair pay. The report and panel discussion can also be used to encourage women students to take initiative to curb the effects of the pay gap on recent graduates. Here are a few suggestions for ways to get out the information from the report on campus.

  • Host a watch party of the panel discussion webcast, which is available online.
  • Write an op-ed or letter to the editor for your student or local newspaper.
  • Use the research report in class.
  • Start conversations with friends.
  • Use the report for your next book club pick.
  • Share information on Facebook and Twitter.

If you were not able to join us for the live webcast, you can watch the recording online.

This post was written by AAUW College/University Relationships Intern Courtney Douglas.

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During the first weekend in November, 10 college women leaders traveled from across the country — from as far away as Washington and Oregon and as close as the Washington, D.C., area — to the AAUW national office for the AAUW National Student Advisory Council retreat. These outstanding women with diverse backgrounds and leadership experiences make up this year’s National Student Advisory Council. Throughout their one-year term on the council, the members will advise AAUW about issues facing college women, promote AAUW programs on their campuses, write for AAUW Dialog, and serve as leaders at the annual National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in May.

The 10 SAC members stand in front of the AAUW national office after the first day of their retreat.

The retreat began on Friday afternoon with a half-day information session aimed at introducing the SAC members to AAUW staff and giving the college women a deeper understanding of AAUW’s mission and programs. The students discussed events they have hosted on their campuses and issues they would like to target on their campuses over the next year. They also had a chance to get know each other and the AAUW staff better and to meet two local AAUW members over dinner.

The SAC members volunteered at Walk Now for Autism Speaks on Saturday morning.

On Saturday morning, SAC members volunteered for Walk Now for Autism Speaks on the National Mall, where they helped register walkers, prepare donated refreshments, and cheer on the participants. To keep warm on the chilly morning and to keep spirits high, the students did jumping jacks together, took photos with mascots, and danced to the live band.

Following the walk, SAC members had a busy afternoon visiting the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the U.S. Capitol, and the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, where they learned about the historic National Woman’s Party, the fight for women’s suffrage, the Equal Rights Amendment campaign, and the political cartoons of Nina Allender. Huong Nguyen, a student from Washington and Jefferson College, said visiting the museum was her favorite event from the retreat. Nguyen said she liked the museum because she “learned a lot, and the museum sparked my curiosity to learn more.”

The retreat wrapped up on Sunday morning with a brief session at the hotel to answer

SAC members pose after their private tour in the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum.

questions and to set the SAC’s leadership goals, which included forming relationships with AAUW local branch members, encouraging women to join AAUW and to attend NCCWSL, becoming more involved with their campuses’ women’s centers, and executing events on campus. SAC members also noted what personal skills they hope to develop or improve, including public speaking, programming implementation, networking, and blogging. The students are looking forward to reuniting at NCCWSL and using their skills to mentor other student leaders.

The retreat left me feeling inspired and encouraged by these fantastic women student leaders. I look forward to getting to know them better throughout the year. If you have SAC members in your area, please reach out and involve them in your local activities. They will tell their stories of student leadership on campus through guest blog posts on AAUW Dialog. We look forward to welcoming them back to the D.C. area for NCCWSL in May.

SAC members hear from Public Policy staff members Kimberly Fountain and Deborah Swerdlow about get-out-the-vote efforts and other ways to engage students on campus.

This post was written by AAUW College/University Relationships Intern Courtney Douglas.

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Inspired. That’s how I felt when I saw the large number of outstanding applications for the 2012–13 National Student Advisory Council. There are so many women leaders making a difference on college and university campuses across the country.

The 10 outstanding women selected for this year’s council come from a variety of backgrounds and have held a range of leadership positions on their campuses and beyond. Throughout the year, they will grow as AAUW ambassadors on their campuses and in their communities. They will also play an essential role in the planning and implementation of the 2013 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.

2011-12 National Student Advisory Council members with the 2012 Women of Distinction

Meet the members of this year’s SAC:

  • Nanci Alanis is a junior majoring in psychology at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Alanis transferred from Elgin Community College, where she was involved with student government and was an officer for Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
  • Maureen Evans Arthurs is a senior majoring in gender and women’s studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is the project manager for her university’s Women Involved in Learning and Leadership program and was an AAUW Development intern from 2010 to 2011.
  • Maybellin Burgos is a junior majoring in computer science at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She is president of both the Association of Computing Machinery-Women and Students and Technology in Academia, Research, and Service on her campus.
  • Kelly Kay Clark is a graduate student studying higher education administration at the University of Kansas. She is the assistant complex director of an all-women residence hall on campus and was Collegiate Panhellenic Council president when she was an undergraduate student at Texas A&M.
  • Bethany Imondi is a senior majoring in government and English at Georgetown University. She is president of the Georgetown Women in Politics student organization and is an intern at Emily’s List.
  • Natasha Mercado is a sophomore majoring in radiology technology at Bellevue College, where she designed a student club to support women entering the science and health care fields. She also volunteers at a local hospital.
  • Huong Nguyen is a junior majoring in psychology at Washington and Jefferson College. She is president and a founding member of the Diversity Programming Board and is a resident assistant in a first-year hall. She has held leadership positions in the Black Student Union and in student government.
  • Taaj Reaves is a senior majoring in journalism and political science at the University of Missouri. She is president of the AAUW student organization at the University of Missouri. Reaves also serves as a leadership adviser and study abroad student manager on campus.
  • Benita Robinson is a junior majoring in computer science and sociology at the University of Michigan, Dearborn. She is a founder of the AAUW student organization on her campus and is the student coordinator for the Women in Learning and Leadership program.
  • Samaura Stone is a graduate student studying social work at Portland State University. She has experience with political campaigns and has worked for a senator. She is the vice chair of the Oregon Commission on Black Affairs and has been a Multnomah County child advocate for several years.

As in past years, SAC members will write guest blog posts each week, so you will have a chance to read about their student leadership experiences and ideas. This year, all 10 SAC members are enrolled at AAUW college/university partner member schools.

Read more about the Student Advisory Council and our new members. If you want to get connected with one of these students in your state, please contact us.

This post was written by AAUW College/University Relationships Manager Christine Hernandez.

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Although AAUW only recently launched our first student organizations on college and university campuses, the student org at the University of Missouri is flourishing. After hearing about the group through a women’s empowerment residence hall on campus, senior Taaj Reaves attended a few meetings, became a member, and is now the AAUW-MU student org president. While it is only her first semester in that role, Reaves has big plans for the group this year and was excited to share her experience with AAUW Dialog.

Adviser Jane Biers and President Taaj Reaves at the Women’s Leadership Conference in Columbia, Missouri

AAUW: What types of meetings and events do you host on campus?

Reaves: Once or twice a month, we host a female guest speaker from the Missouri community. For example, we will host the president of the Missouri State Women’s Political Caucus. We also host screenings of documentaries such as Miss Representation and facilitate voter registration drives. In addition, we are seeking university funding to host a Women’s Awareness Week with topics and presentations on the issues of wage gap disparity, women’s access to health care, and the glass ceiling for women in politics.

AAUW: Do you partner with a local branch or other student organizations on campus?

Reaves: Absolutely! In the past, there have been social opportunities for our members to network with local branch members, and we are looking forward to working with our local branch in the near future. We are very active with other women’s groups on campus and have forged great relationships with organizations such as Stop Traffic and the Feminist Student Union. We are also involved with the on-campus Women’s Center.

AAUW: What are some of the best benefits for AAUW student organization members?

Reaves: The best benefit women get from our student organization is the connections they make with their peers and mentors. We enjoy going to our local branch meetings. Our members get a chance to hear from women in a wide range of career fields through our various guest speakers, and many of our members have gone on to intern with these guests.

AAUW: What has been your favorite part of being involved with the AAUW-MU student organization?

Reaves: My favorite part of being involved with AAUW has been the amazing opportunities I have had to meet and connect with like-minded young women. Being president allows me so much room for growth and development. I have seen my leadership style change tremendously. I am so passionate about this organization and what it does for women and girls, so being able to share that message with others is very important and a huge benefit of being a part of AAUW-MU.

AAUW: Do you have any advice for other AAUW student organizations?

AAUW-MU student organization members Ariel Park, Alexa Henning, and Carolyn Cianciolo tabled on campus at a fall welcome event last year.

Reaves: Be enthused about the message of AAUW, and have a passion for it. Your energy will shine through and show others how important it is to be an advocate of women’s issues. The best ideas are born through conversation and collaboration. We suggest making your social media usage — Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr — as relevant as possible. Ask questions of your followers, congratulate high achievers, and have conversations. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for money! AAUW’s mission is not one-dimensional, and there are topics that all university students should be informed on. Thus it is important for the greater community and campus to support AAUW efforts!

If you are inspired to start an AAUW student organization on your college or university campus, send us an e-mail at coll-univ@aauw.org with “Student Organization” in the subject line. You can also check out our Program in a Box for more information on forming an AAUW student org.

This post was written by AAUW College/University Relationships Intern Courtney Douglas.

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The Equal Rights Amendment — short, sweet, and unratified — was written by Alice Paul in 1921, a year after women won the right to vote, and was first proposed to Congress in 1923. It has been presented to every Congress over the past 89 years and has been through a tumultuous battle for passage and ratification. Opposition to the amendment came from many, and often unexpected, directions. Would it surprise you to learn that before 1971, AAUW did not support the ERA?

Former AAUW President Mary Purcell speaks at an Equal Rights Amendment rally.

In 1924, the AAUW national office urged branches to study the amendment but chose not to form an official opinion. This effort allowed AAUW to fully research and understand the amendment and its potential implications as well as the immense diversity of opinion among members. Members were, and for decades continued to be, severely divided over the issue. Many felt that the amendment was the quickest, most effective method of establishing equality between the sexes, while others thought that the ERA threatened the social progress and legislative protections already obtained for women. Not until 1938 did AAUW present an official position: opposition to the ERA “as a means of securing the equality of women.”

AAUW disagreed with the tactics of the ERA but not with equality or the amendment itself. As study and debate of the topic persisted throughout the mid-20th century, AAUW, dedicated to fighting for women’s equality, pursued alternative strategies out of concern for the potentially detrimental social implications of the amendment. From the very beginning, members “agreed on certain rights that we wish to secure for ourselves and other American women.” These rights were progressive and numerous and included “no economic or political discrimination between women and men on account of sex.”

This Sunday is Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote. It was established by Bella Abzug in 1971, the same year that AAUW finally announced official support for the rewritten Equal Rights Amendment. After investing 50 years of study in the topic, the ERA became a top AAUW priority. AAUW established the ERA Fund, became a member of the ERA Ratification Council in Washington, D.C., and staged a temporary boycott in 1977 to hold regional and national AAUW conventions only in states that had ratified the ERA.

Yet now, in 2012, the Equal Rights Amendment still has not been ratified. So this Women’s Equality Day, be proud of the women who have won so much for us to celebrate, but do not assume that history is only in our archives. We live history every day — so what will you give your daughters to celebrate?

This post was written by AAUW Archives Intern Kelsey Conway.

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Members of academic departments tend to stick together like peanut butter and jelly, forks and knives, or in my case, grants and early coffee trips. Students within the same major or minor usually connect during academic events, from poetry readings to trips to the forest to study the local fauna. At the start of my fall semester in 2011, there was only one other student in St. Mary’s College’s women’s studies program who had self-designed a major, which made my academic community quite sparse. Through the support of my women’s studies sidekick, Catherine Cleary, I was fortunate enough to learn about AAUW and hear firsthand about her wonderful experience on the National Student Advisory Council the previous year. Just a few weeks after submitting my application, I was thrilled to be selected as a member of the 2011–12 SAC.

Within the next month, amid my courses and the quickly approaching Thanksgiving break, I flew to Washington, D.C., to meet the nine other SAC members at our orientation. This weekend excursion created such excitement for a subject I already had great passion for. After the events on our packed itinerary — including my favorite stop, the Sewall-Belmont House — I returned to South Bend, Indiana, with even greater excitement for the upcoming year. Through weekly conference calls, writing blog posts for AAUW, and preparing for and participating in the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, I got to know the other SAC members and the women at AAUW who helped us and kept us informed about opportunities throughout the year.

During my term on the SAC, I was given a plethora of opportunities, ideas, and programs to apply to my own campus and community. Teamed up with my academic sidekick, I successfully completed a Campus Action Project, which was based on AAUW´s research report Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, to draft a letter to the South Bend mayor asking for a declaration of Equal Pay Day and to hold a $tart $mart program on our campus. AAUW gave me a golden year of opportunity that I will forever appreciate. In addition to meeting amazing women like fair pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter and cartoonist Liza Donnelly and presenting our Campus Action Project at NCCWSL, I expanded my interests and strengthened my network of supportive women. I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to apply for the SAC — it was the most exciting and enjoyable year I have ever had. One of the best parts is that even though my term on the SAC is over, my connection and time with AAUW truly has just begun.

Applications for the 2012–13 National Student Advisory Council will be available on August 27 and are due September 30. Visit the SAC page to access the application, instructions, and information about qualifications. Students at AAUW college/university partner member institutions receive preference.

This post was written by former National Student Advisory Council member Laura Corrigan.

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Over the past six months, the United States has sweltered through record-breaking high temperatures and dangerous weather anomalies. Thanks to everything from derechos to droughts, renewed anxiety for our planet — and ourselves — is inevitable. For AAUW, environmental concerns are a fascinating part of our heritage.

Alice Beeman, narrator of an AAUW This Beleaguered Earth radio public service announcement

Alice Beeman, narrator of an AAUW This Beleaguered Earth radio public service announcement

Did you know that in the late 1960s and early 1970s AAUW undertook a battle for environmental reform? At that time, the nation was awakening to the ecological distress caused by pollution from everyday human activity and beginning to recognize the effect these toxins were having on the environment and on people. The forward-thinking AAUW program This Beleaguered Earth – Can Man Survive?  put a “focus on the ecological problems faced by mankind today … how and why we are threatened as a species. It also suggest[ed] ideas for action to reverse environmental pollution and deterioration.”

In an effort to identify and define environmental issues on the local, national, and even international level, AAUW called on lawmakers and citizens alike to learn about the ecological struggles at hand and to take up the fight for a cleaner, safer world. AAUW branches focused on specific issues, many of which related to local problems within the broader topic of environmental reform. Members studied topics ranging from the obvious, such as water and air pollution, to the revolutionary, such as soundscape protection and noise reduction and alternative energy sources like solar and nuclear power.

These studies resulted in a wealth of information. To ensure its effective application, the AAUW national office held conferences, narrated public service announcements, and produced educational publications such as This Beleaguered Earth: Models for Citizen Action and the Tool Kit for Community Action. Among other things, these documents suggested activism projects and ways to influence change. The power of individual branches combined under a nationally organized campaign allowed AAUW to stand as a united force against environmental destruction.

This work continues to resonate today. For example, the AAUW Queens (NY) Branch’s home ecology quiz from January 1973 helped individuals recognize everyday threats to the environment and identify ways to make a difference. Considering today’s ecological concerns, which questions do you think are still relevant? How would you update the questions to better reflect the problems our planet faces today? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and take the quiz to see how you score! I’m “almost there.”



This post was written by AAUW Archives Intern Kelsey Conway.

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This week, as we celebrate Title IX’s 40th birthday and the advances the law has inspired for gender equity, it’s worth remembering AAUW’s year-round efforts to support women who have challenged sex discrimination in education. AAUW’s Legal Advocacy Fund has been instrumental in the success of many gender discrimination cases — in education and in the workplace — during its 31-year history. LAF’s case-support program provides financial and organizational backing for a select number of lawsuits that have the potential to set significant precedents for gender equity. The funds to do this come directly from the generous contributions of AAUW members. Other LAF initiatives include community and campus outreach programs, our Online Resource Library with downloadable advocacy tools, a Legal Referral Network, and research reports.

One case in which LAF played a major role is Mansourian v. Regents of the University of California. LAF first took up this case in 2005, but the women had been fighting long before that. In 2003, Arezou Mansourian, Christine Ng, and Lauren Mancuso filed suit after UC Davis eliminated women’s opportunities in wrestling and dozens of other sports. While the case continued long after they graduated, the women racked up a series of precedent-setting court victories for Title IX, including a landmark win at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which rejected the imposition of procedural hurdles to Title IX suits that challenge inequities in athletic participation. After a bench trial, the court found that the university had violated Title IX. Settlement of a spin-off, class-action lawsuit prompted improvement in the athletic participation ratios of women at UC Davis and provided funds to female athletes at the school.

After their court win, Mansourian, Ng, and Mancuso thanked AAUW members in a letter:

The case simply could not have happened without AAUW’s support. We could not have litigated this fight to victory without the fiscal support of AAUW and the moral support of its members. This case has been embraced at countless AAUW conventions and events across the country. During this long battle, AAUW had our back, and we will continue to have yours.

Mancuso told AAUW that while she was pleased by the outcome of the case, it “serves as a reminder that no matter how much progress we have made in the struggle for equality, there is still much more that needs to be done.”

As former Sen. Birch Bayh (D-IN) once said, “Title IX is rather simple — don’t discriminate on the basis of sex.” But when discrimination does occur, AAUW is ready to support women like Mansourian, Ng, and Mancuso, who spent years fighting in court in order to see Title IX enforced for all of us. The Legal Advocacy Fund exists for precisely that purpose — to combat sex discrimination wherever it occurs.

A great way to celebrate 40 years of progress in education and to recognize and support future Title IX enforcement is to help us continue our case-support work by donating to the Legal Advocacy Fund.

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Trayvon Martin's father Tracy Martin and his mother Sybrina Fulton at the Union Square protest against Trayvon's shooting death.

Today, a woman by the name of Sybrina Fulton is a childless mother. As our divided nation seeks to find understanding in the midst of the tragic death of her son, Trayvon Martin, Fulton faces the realization that he is more than the victim of a shooting. Fulton is living the terrifying reality of countless mothers who fear that their children will be harmed or killed for no apparent reason.

In late February in Sanford, Florida, self-appointed neighborhood-watch captain George Zimmerman, 28, reportedly gunned down 17-year-old Martin. In a 911 call, Zimmerman accused Martin of being under the influence of drugs and generally looking suspicious. Zimmerman was armed with a gun; Martin was equipped with a bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea.

Zimmerman has yet to be arrested and has proclaimed his innocence under Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law. This policy allows you to use deadly force if it is in self-defense. The police must determine whether deadly force was necessary before arresting a suspect. In Martin’s case, what is apparent is that a child was senselessly killed. The laws working to protect the shooter have caused a miscarriage of justice and left the victim’s family defenseless.

The curious case of Trayvon Martin serves as a reflection of America’s treacherous history of gloomy race relations. As a nation demands justice for Martin, we must examine if we truly live in a post-racial America. This tragedy demonstrates that despite the fact that our nation currently has an African American president, we still manage to remain a nation heavily burdened by racism. In response to Martin’s death, President Barack Obama said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

I have two brothers who look like Martin. My greatest fear is that Zimmerman will never be charged for Martin’s murder — and that my twin brothers could quite possibly be the next Trayvon Martins. Will my mother one day receive a call that her sons were gunned down for looking suspicious?

As our president, the nation, and I stand outraged over Martin’s death, we are reminded of the power of the citizenry to stand against injustice. Martin’s legacy is being honored through the Million Hoodie campaign, which was created to petition for Zimmerman’s prosecution and to demonstrate that merely wearing a hoodie doesn’t constitute being suspicious.

What makes someone appear to be suspicious?

Though it is not clear if this shooting was racially motivated, Martin’s name is among countless African American men who have been killed for appearing to be suspicious. Across the country, hundreds of people have attended vigils and rallies in support of Martin. The Miami Heat basketball team and members of Congress are standing in solidarity with Martin by donning hoodies in an effort to preserve his legacy.

As members of our nation try to make sense of this catastrophe, many continue to stand both in support of and against Martin. According to journalist Geraldo Rivera, “the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.”

In spite of criticisms of Martin, his mother’s ability to persevere in the face of hardship is remarkable. Her story reminds me of the struggles of African American women who were lynched  in the 20th century for demanding police intervention in the murders of their sons and husbands.

Though Martin’s mother can never find solace in the death of her son, she can find comfort in knowing that her son’s life has sparked a national movement for an end to inequality. Though Martin’s voice may be silenced in death, his life serves as a call for further peace and social harmony. Hopefully, we can wake up from the fantasy of a post-racial America and enter the reality of an America deeply divided by race and hierarchical privilege.

Martin’s legacy will live on — so long as we repair this breakdown of justice.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Ola Ojewumi.

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