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Posts Tagged ‘education’

Piggy Bank with back to school messageIn this installment of our ongoing Budget 101 blog series, we’re exploring what was in the “fiscal cliff” package passed by Congress over the New Year’s holiday. Late last night, the House of Representatives passed the Senate bill to pull us back from the fiscal cliff — the combination of tax and spending changes that were set to go into effect today and could have sent the U.S. economy back into a recession. But the deal, which President Obama is expected to sign, dealt only with the tax changes and merely delayed the spending cuts known as sequestration.

AAUW commends lawmakers from both parties for coming together to reach a true compromise (look up how your senators and representative voted). Like any compromise, the deal is far from perfect, but it includes several AAUW-supported provisions that will help women and their families, such as

  • Returning to the Clinton-era tax rates for high-income earners while continuing the current rates for individuals earning less than $400,000 and families earning less than $450,000
  • Extending the American Opportunity Tax Credit, an AAUW-supported $2,500 tax credit to help college students and their families pay for tuition and related expenses
  • Ending the payroll tax holiday and returning to the previous rate of withholding, therefore protecting Social Security’s long-term solvency
  • Extending federal unemployment insurance for another year, benefiting those unemployed for longer than 26 weeks
  • Delaying the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts for two months, giving Congress more time to find a way to protect key programs like K–12 funding, Pell Grants, and family planning from sequestration

Although the automatic spending cuts have been delayed, they are still dangerous. In the next two months, Congress will need to find a solution to avoid deep cuts to important investments such as education, funding for civil rights enforcement, women’s health programs, and workforce training programs.

obama fiscal cliffThe 113th Congress, which begins on January 3, is in for a bumpy next few months. The sequestration delay is projected to end at roughly the same time the United States hits its newly set debt limit (early March), setting the scene for a pitched political fight. This will likely be followed by another battle when the current appropriations bill that is funding the government expires in late March.

AAUW is a nonpartisan organization, but we’re also multi-partisan, representing a variety of political affiliations and viewpoints. Despite our differences, AAUW members come together to get things done and serve our communities. Congress should do the same. AAUW members will continue to press Congress to support budget policies that further the principles of fairness and fiscal responsibility and protect women and their families.

Make your voice heard! Sign up for AAUW’s Action Network and speak up for women and families.

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From the time I was a little girl, my parents instilled in me the value and importance of an education. I always knew that I was meant to go to high school and college. Now that I am in college, I have noticed that many of the younger girls I know are not motivated to do the same. And I asked myself, Why, and what can we do?

Part of my question was answered in November, when I had the privilege of volunteering at the Adelante/Moving Forward with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) conference, which was co-hosted by the AAUW Elgin Area (IL) Branch, League of United Latin American Citizens, Elgin Community College, and Judson University. The conference was intended to support Latina girls in middle and high school while encouraging them to pursue STEM fields as possible future career choices. Many of the activities emphasized STEM and the bond in Latino families. The girls attended with their moms, many of whom did not go to college themselves, and the conference also emphasized helping the mothers understand the importance of the college experience and the impact it can have on their daughters.

Volunteers from Elgin Community CollegeOne of the most touching moments of the conference was the book discussion about The House on Mango Street. Lizette Beltran, a Bartlett High School alumna, talked about the importance of having her mom’s support in school and in overcoming obstacles. This prompted many of the moms to ask how they can help their own daughters and what the volunteers’ own moms have done to help us succeed. To me, this was the most fascinating aspect of the conference!

I have a strong bond with my mom, and her support of my education has been very important. From my own experience, I think that encouraging girls at a younger age, especially ethnic minority students, to go to college is crucial to establishing their motivation to continue their education. Minority college students are more at-risk for obstacles in their educational pursuits and often lack knowledge of college options. But having another woman give you her undivided support can go a long way, especially if that woman is your mom.

By encouraging mothers to learn about their daughters’ educational interests, conferences like these offer mothers a better understanding of what college will entail. This is a win-win situation because girls’ enrollment will likely increase and the mother-daughter bond will be strengthened — just like mine was with my mom.

Although this conference was geared toward STEM pursuits, its format could be used in any field of study by including moms and changing the activities to fit the desired specialty. Not only will the conference expose girls to a field of study that interests them, but it will also drive students to work hard in high school and earn better grades, allowing them to enroll at a higher education institution. Similarly, if a girl feels like she is making the wrong choices, an opportunity like this could still come early enough for her to change her habits and do better in school. Although this was the first time that I encountered this type of conference, I have no doubt that it can make a great impact on young girls. From what I have seen, a little support and the proper guidance can truly impact girls’ lives.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Nanci Alanis.

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Mentors can help shape and guide the experiences of their mentees, and this relationship can have a lifelong impact. As the first person in my household to go to college, I know that mentors played a critical part in my leadership development and my decision to pursue graduate school. Mentors like my colleague Kandy Mink Salas, who wrote her dissertation on college women and their leadership aspirations, and Tony Ragazzo, my student leadership advisor who told me that I should go to graduate school, both played a key role in my undergraduate success.

mentorship blog christine with menteesWhen I was a campus administrator, I tried to pay it forward in my work with students. Many of them had the capacity to lead, and it has been a privilege to serve as a mentor. Now in my job at AAUW, I still get to do this great work through the many AAUW leadership programs that help empower college women across the country. Programs like the National Student Advisory Council and Elect Her–Campus Women Win and events like the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders help women find their voices and take on greater leadership roles in their communities.

This month, I presented on women and leadership at the Leadership Educators Institute in Columbus, Ohio. One of my key points focused on the serious need for mentors in the lives of college women. I asked participants in my workshop and colleagues on Twitter what words of wisdom they, as mentors to college women leaders, would share. These were some of the responses.

  • mentorship blog notecard“I would encourage critical thinking and validate their ideas. I would seek out resources to share with them and connect them to different people. Also, I would say, The answer is always no if you don’t ask.”
  • “Let her know what options are available to her and why it’s important to try, and/or why [certain options] are a good fit.”
  • “Trust yourself; explore your identity as a woman and what that means to you.”
  • “The harder you work now, the ‘luckier’ you’ll get in the future.”
  • “Never be ashamed to talk about your intelligence. Women aren’t always taught they can be smart and emphasize it.”
  • “Learn to brag! … Then learn when it is appropriate.”
  • “Believing in yourself is part of your growth as a leader and as a woman. If you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to. I will always be here to guide you.”

What words of wisdom would you share with a college woman?

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

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Photo by Nily Rozic Nily Rozic was asked multiple times to run for office before she seriously considered it. The 26-year-old New York state assemblywoman-elect admits she was asked “over and over” to run, which is not an unusual thing to hear from female candidates.

AAUW, Running Start, and She Should Run recently held a conference call for alumnae of Elect Her–Campus Women Win — a program that trains college women to run for student government — with the goal of encouraging these remarkable young women to run for public office. The call, which targeted students who have been through Elect Her and held student leadership positions, aimed to get these women to think about running for office after college and to share the steps they can be taking now to prepare for a career in politics. As one of the speakers on the call, Rozic shared her own story, which touched on all of the tips that AAUW, Running Start, and She Should Run typically share with attendees.

1. Go Local

Rozic knew she wanted to do something to give back to the neighborhood where she grew up, so she made sure to take leadership roles in her community. Rozic first advises becoming a leader in your own community, whatever role it may be. Ramping up your involvement in things you already care about is a great way to build leadership skills that will help you eventually run for office.

2. Start Now

Rozic was not afraid of jumping into the ring at a young age, and she encouraged the Elect Her alums to do the same. “You’ve just got to start,” she said, and you’ll discover that there are people who are ready to jump in and support you. Rozic said several political trainings were invaluable to her, especially in finding and developing mentors. For a list of trainings across the country, visit the Center for American Women in Politics.

3. Try Volunteering

A third way for young women to take their political experience to the next level is by taking a paid, intern, or volunteer position for a political campaign or in a current political leader’s office. Rozic landed her first government job working for a member of the New York State Assembly, where she got a feel for what government was like and eventually worked her way up to chief of staff. There are great opportunities at the local, state, and federal levels. For instance, try volunteering on a campaign — you can reach out to the local Republican or Democratic parties to find out more about the candidates. Or you can contact a local or state elected official to find out about opportunities. Each U.S. congressional office manages its own internship program, so look on your representatives’ websites to find out more. Nonprofits also organize internships with members of Congress through programs like Running Start’s Star Fellowship Program.

Ultimately, Rozic urges young women to embrace their youth when running for office. Our elected officials need to be representative of all types of people, and being young is not a disadvantage: “You’re ahead of the curve!”

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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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In July 2009, President Obama announced the American Graduation Initiative, a higher education plan that focuses on community colleges. With an increase in federal support, including a recent $500 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, community colleges are playing a key role in higher education dialogue, and enrollment has risen in the last decade. Community colleges provide affordable education that can help students earn an associate degree, transfer to a four-year institution, or gain valuable job skills. But behind this work are leaders —community college presidents.

Merrimack College in North Andover, MA on September 23, 2010.The American Association of Community Colleges recently released a report that found that in 2012, female leaders of community colleges had a higher median base salary than male leaders had. However, when benefits were taken into account, male presidents made slightly more than women. The report also found that about 75 percent of surveyed community college CEOs plan to retire in the next 10 years. With an increase in the number of women community college presidents since 1991, this may be a prime opportunity for women to fill vacancies at the CEO level.

While academia has been the traditional pipeline to college presidency, this burgeoning era of new community college leadership calls for transformational leaders who have a mix of skills, behaviors, and experiences. AAUW has empowered women to lead for more than 130 years. For academic leaders, this advancement has come from opportunities like our fellowships and grants and networking with other AAUW members and supporters. It’s important for women leaders to mentor and champion the next generation of college women administrators. In fact, research shows that it’s critical for women to identify and build relationships with mentors in order for them to become university presidents.

Do you have words of wisdom for aspiring college administrators?

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

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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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