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Posts Tagged ‘higher education’

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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As New Orleans gears up for Super Bowl XLVII this Sunday in the Superdome, let’s take a timeout to examine another matchup with much higher stakes: where women are now versus where they could be. When it comes to gender equity, our team’s still behind on a whole host of issues, and we’ll need everyone out on the field to help make up the difference.

Nearly 50 years after President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law, our research found that one year out of college, women earn only 82 cents for every dollar men earn.

changethescore grads

At this summer’s AAUW National Convention in New Orleans, we’re going to talk about the legacy of the Equal Pay Act and the unfinished work in the fight for pay equity. On Monday, June 10, we will host a plenary session with Lilly Ledbetter and our own Public Policy Director Lisa Maatz.

Pay equity isn’t the only arena where we’ve got ground to make up, though. A lot of people are going to be talking about sports this weekend, so let’s touch on that for a moment. Forty years after the passage of Title IX, we’ve still got yards to go before reaching true equity. In 2012, the NCAA reported that the average college had 238 male athletes and only 180 female athletes.

changethescore NCAA

We celebrated the 40th anniversary of Title IX last year, and we continue to talk about how we can support young women in school at this year’s convention as a part of our broader conversation on Leading across Generations. We should encourage girls to follow their passions, whether girls are aspiring athletes, politicos, or engineers.

Speaking of aspiring politicians, 2012 was a big year for women in the U.S. Senate. Your presence at the polls and voter-turnout campaigns like It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard helped elect dozens of women to both the House and Senate. But even with a record-breaking 20 female senators, there are still four men for every woman in the upper chamber.

changethescore senators

If we’re going to elect more women into our highest offices, we’ve also got to convince more of them to pick up the torch and run. Our Elect Her–Campus Women Win training program is helping inspire the next generation of first-string leaders. We’re dedicating one of our convention workshops to the program so that you can get an in-depth understanding of how the program works and what you can do to support it.

Politics isn’t the only area where we need more women in the game. Across the board, we’ve got plenty of problems to tackle, including how to get more women into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Currently, women make up only 13 percent of engineers.

changethescore stem

We’ve studied extensively the root causes of the STEM gender gap and what we can do to fix them. You can attend our STEM Branch Programming convention workshop to learn about other ways your branch can support girls and women in STEM in your community.

Don’t be a Monday-morning quarterback in the fight for women’s equity. We can’t afford to take our eyes off the ball, and it will take an all-star effort to get us over the goal line. But here’s the thing: You’ve got to be in the room to call the plays. Join us in New Orleans June 9–12 as we explore how AAUW has been breaking through barriers and leading across generations for 132 years. It’s down to the wire on our best-value rate. Register today before the clock runs out on Sunday!

Continue this discussion and share these scoreboard images on social media between now and Sunday to spread the word about why we need to change the score for women and girls. Use #ChangeTheScore on Twitter, and check out our Facebook and Tumblr during the big game!

This post was written by AAUW Member Leadership Programs Associate Ryan Burwinkel.

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Ninh headshot BW 180 pixels“They say all our work is autobiographical,” says professor and writer erin Khue Ninh. Simply by choosing a subject to write about, you expose personal preferences, opinions, and experiences. This is true even in academia, and it is certainly true for Ninh.

Ninh’s first book, Ingratitude: The Debt-Bound Daughter in Asian American Literature, explores common threads of filial debt and bitterness in narratives by second-generation Asian American women. Ninh saw these patterns in the literature as underscoring an experience that had troubled and impacted generations of Asian American women, and she decided to finally give language to it.

Writing about family relationships, Ninh found the academic distance enabling, as it made her more objective. She describes the book as “autobiography by indirection.” As she wrote, Ninh used her own reactions to the literature she was analyzing as a kind of emotional tuning fork. She described testing whether “what I wrote rang true, if it resonated on an emotional level. If it didn’t, then I knew analytically I wasn’t there yet.”

As passionate as Ninh was while writing her dissertation — which later became her book — dedication and enthusiasm did not pay the bills. Ninh had decided at 16 to become a literature professor. But she faced a rude awakening when she realized the Darwinian setup of the graduate school system, and her romanticized concepts of academia proved to be naive. With far more candidates than available tenure-track positions, it was a “brutal” system, according to Ninh. When she received an AAUW American Fellowship in 2003, she was despairing about the hiring odds and realizing that teaching was a limited possibility for a humanities graduate student.

Receiving the fellowship meant more than financial security for the year; it meant validation of Ninh’s work. As she describes it, “You have to be a self-marketer for your own brand in academia, so confidence is critical.”

Confidence and affirmation have made a winning combination for Ninh in the years since her fellowship. Not only was her book published, but she also has written for national news sources like the Huffington Post and ESPN about Asian American identity in the media and literature. Also present in her writing are critiques of capitalism, patriarchy, and misogyny, especially as they relate to immigrant families.

Ninh contests existing dogma that idealizes immigrant families as being havens from a capitalist world. She argues that the immigrants who come to the United States and pursue their aspirations for their children are very aware of the capitalist society to which they now belong. For that reason, and because of the disadvantages their children will face compared with native-born families, many parents pragmatically channel their children into lucrative fields. In a piece for the Huffington Post, Ninh wrote, “As many of my colleagues in Asian American studies have noted, Asian immigrants push their children hard because they recognize that discrimination — conscious or not — is real. That all other things being equal, the blue-eyed candidate will get the position — and so the Asian kid has to make sure other things are better, to have a shot.”

Now a tenured professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in the Asian American Studies Department, Ninh is settling into her role as a senior scholar. Ten years after her fellowship, she says, “AAUW made my life come true.” Her work continues to touch upon truths for many readers and foster important intergenerational discussions.

erin Khue Ninh’s 2003–04 American Fellowship was sponsored by two AAUW of California American Fellowships: the Ruby Henry/Napa County (CA) Branch Fellowship and the San Francisco (CA) Branch/Mildred Bickel Fellowship.

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

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kelly kay SACAs a second-year graduate student pursuing student affairs, I have had the ride of my life learning how to balance school, work, and relationships. While trying to maintain this balance, my values have solidified, and my relationships have become more meaningful and fulfilling. Mentors in my life have helped to guide me through these changes while keeping me grounded.

Having a mentor has been very important in my relatively short career in student affairs. I have found people outside of my department to talk to about my career goals, and these different perspectives have been really helpful. I turn to faculty members inside my department as well. Turns out, they have successfully balanced school, work, and personal relationships and lived to tell the tale — and offer some sage advice.

The most important thing mentors have taught me is to follow my own path. I usually go to them when I’m faced with a seemingly huge decision, and I leave feeling relieved. The key to a great mentoring relationship is knowing how I problem-solve. For me, that means knowing that I need to talk things out. When I talk to someone whom I view as an authority, I feel a greater sense of validation.

Mentors play a different role in my life than family and friends do. I can tell my Mom anything; I respect her opinion, and she will support me no matter what. But what I need in a mentor is someone to challenge me and offer a different perspective. And that perspective is inherent in the relationship: This person has not known me since I was a baby. This person doesn’t go window shopping with me on Saturdays. This person knows me purely as a professional or a student, and she or he can offer input in that part of my life.

It is an honor to be considered someone’s mentor, and I would feel accomplished if anyone referred to me as such. It is easy to miss opportunities to help someone else, but offering something as simple as another perspective can be the first step toward mentoring. I always hope to be a role model to the undergraduate staff whom I supervise, but I think for National Mentoring Month, I will charge myself to search earnestly for those mentoring relationships and positively impact those around me.

I want to offer a thank-you to all of the mentors who might not know they have had an impact on a student, a supervisee, or colleague. Maybe today you can take the time to thank your mentors and help brighten their day, as they have done for you.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Kelly Kay Clark.

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AAUW's Nzinga Shury with Delta Sigma Theta sisters“Oh, what a wonderful time to be a Delta!” will likely be chanted across the globe in the next week as the sisters of Delta Sigma Theta celebrate 100 years of sisterhood, scholarship, and service. Founded on January 13, 1913, by 22 Howard University women students, Delta Sigma Theta has grown to become the largest predominately African American sorority in the world, with more than 900 chapters in the United States, Germany, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Japan, South Korea, England, Jamaica, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

During the centennial celebration, I and other Deltas from all over will gather where it all began — Washington, D.C. — to celebrate the sorority’s accomplishments and achievements. Looking back on Delta’s history, I am most proud of its start. In 1913, our founders courageously participated in the Woman Suffrage Parade, which marked the sorority’s first national public act as well as its devotion to women’s rights at a time when women’s voices were routinely silenced.

“We marched that day in order that women might come into their own, because we believed that women not only needed an education, but they needed a broader horizon in which they may use that education. And the right to vote would give them that privilege,” founder Florence Letcher Toms later commented.

In a similar push for women’s education, AAUW took quick action after our founding to commission research proving that, contrary to popular thought, higher education does not negatively impact a woman’s health. The connections don’t end there. In 2010, AAUW posthumously honored Dorothy Height, former national president of Delta Sigma Theta and founder of the National Council of Negro Women, as a Woman of Distinction at our annual National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.

Both organizations have strived for years to level the playing field for women. During this time of celebration, it gives me great pleasure to be a member of both Delta Sigma Theta and the AAUW community. Both parties’ accomplishments have inspired and motivated me to know that I too can one day help in breaking through barriers for women everywhere.

The sorority’s 100th anniversary will be celebrated with events throughout the D.C. area. Deltas will continue the celebration by re-enacting the 1913 Woman Suffrage Parade in March and holding the official centennial celebration in July. As Delta celebrates a century of service, we encourage our local communities to help us paint D.C. in crimson and cream — the official Delta colors — this coming week and to remember that, even 100 years later, the drive toward women’s rights continues.

This post was written by AAUW Leadership Programs Intern Nzinga Shury.

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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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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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