Posts Tagged ‘Indiana’

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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When I was only 3 years old, my parents strapped my first set of ice hockey skates on me — a Minnesotan rite of passage. Before long, ice hockey became my passion. However, upon entering high school, I learned that there wasn’t a girls’ team. At that moment, I experienced a rude awakening: Gender inequality was the status quo in my community.

Armed with my strong convictions and leveraging Title IX’s mandate, I led my peers and community members to lobby the school board to create a girls’ ice hockey team. Testifying against sexist opposition just like the pioneers of Title IX once did, we successfully convinced the school board to establish a girls’ team, an experience that has forever shaped my perception of what one passionate and goal-oriented individual can accomplish.

This early experience not only led to higher education and athletic opportunities that I might not otherwise have had but also guided my personal and professional pursuits. I was fortunate to attend Amherst College, graduate with honors in psychology, and serve as a captain of the women’s ice hockey team. The skills I obtained and the confidence I built as an athlete and as a member of a team were invaluable, leading me to ultimately become an attorney and an advocate for equal opportunities for all people. Along the way, I have advanced important social causes, served in leadership roles traditionally held by men (including as editor-in-chief of the Rutgers Law Review), and empowered the next generation of women as a mentor and role model.

Recently, by winning a Good Maker challenge, I received funding from the National Women’s Hall of Fame to pursue a sports and leadership project for girls. The premise of the project is to host a sports and leadership clinic not only to inspire, motivate, and empower young girls but also to enable older female athletes to give back to their communities and help instill in the next generation the passion, drive, and commitment that is necessary to maintain and expand equal opportunities.

Ensuring the protection of these opportunities was unquestionably the key message of the National Women’s Hall of Fame 40th anniversary Title IX celebration in Washington, D.C., last week. I was fortunate to have been recognized as a new generation leader at this event alongside the true pioneers and leaders of the women’s rights movement (my role models). Many of the distinguished speakers and panelists voiced the concern that the next generation may fail to understand the significance of Title IX and simply take those opportunities for granted. There is much more work to be done, and that work is now in the hands of the next generation.

This point resonated with me because of the similarities between the obstacles that the Title IX pioneers faced and those that modern-day female athletes still encounter. Bernice Sandler, known as the “godmother of Title IX” because of her role in the development and passage of the law, spoke about having to coordinate bake sales and other fundraisers to buy equipment. This story reminded me of some of the hand-me-down equipment that my college ice hockey team received from the men’s team. Did the Amherst women’s ice hockey team have to win a national championship to prove its worthiness and finally receive its own new jerseys and equipment?

I was also reminded of my own experience when Neena Chaudhry from the National Women’s Law Center explained the rationale behind the current challenges to Title IX — that girls are not as “interested” in sports as boys. That premise is precisely the one I encountered and believed I overcame in high school, more than 15 years ago. I’d say this attitude is clear evidence that we still have work to do!

Linda Hallman, executive director of AAUW, concluded the panel with a strong and passionate call to action: “Get out the vote!” I could not agree more. What a simple yet effective means to protect Title IX and to ensure its commitment to providing equal opportunities for all.

Each of the other panelists provided their own amazing tales and calls to action. Other speakers included Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). Finally, I’d be remiss to conclude without mentioning the ever humble, eloquent, and passionate women’s rights advocate Sen. Birch Bayh (D-IN), the “father of Title IX.” What I appreciated the most about him was that despite his integral involvement in the creation and passage of Title IX, he was happy to take a backseat to demonstrate his admiration for all the amazing and accomplished women in the room.

From the Olympian sitting next to me to the executive sitting across from me, the women at this conference were awe-inspiring. I only hope that through my life’s work I can continue to advance their fight to provide equal opportunities for women and that I will find and create opportunities to share my passion with and instill the same ideals in the next generation of women!

This blog post was written by National Women’s Hall of Fame grantee Heidi S. Alexander, Esq.

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Jane Broendel (photo: NALC)

Jane Broendel (photo: NALC)

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1972 passage of Title IX, I wanted to hear the perspective of someone who remembers going to school before the law was enacted — someone like my mom, Jane Broendel. She graduated from high school in 1973. The following year, her school in rural Illinois started a girls’ basketball team. “I would have loved to have had the opportunity [to play basketball], but I had to wait until college. Even then, it was walk-on,” she says.

Even when her high school started offering sports teams for girls, my mom remembers seeing inequity in things as basic as uniforms. “Of course, the uniforms in high school were the boys’ teams’ hand-me-downs!” she says. “And in college, both at Danville Junior College and Illinois State University, the women wore the same uniform for volleyball, basketball, and softball. Of course, the men had nice, new, and sport-appropriate uniforms.”

But the inequity didn’t stop on the playing field or in the gymnasiums. My mom’s sister — my Aunt Kathie — went to the same high school. She was interested in pursuing a career in architecture and needed to take a drafting class. When she tried to sign up, she found out that the teacher had let a girl into the class during a previous term, claimed she had been disruptive, and made a rule that he would not allow other girls into the class.

My aunt didn’t get to see if she was good at — or even liked — drafting, so she feels like her career choice was limited when she wasn’t allowed to take that one class. “It wasn’t fair,” she says. “It didn’t matter that I was a good student. They could exclude you because you’re female, and he chose to. He told me no, and he told me why, and that was the end of that. But now, you couldn’t get by with it.” Strengthening Title IX enforcement is extremely important. No woman or girl should experience the limitations others faced just 40 years ago.

And the battle continues today. My mom remembers how the girls’ sports teams had to use “second-rate” facilities and how they also experienced unfair scheduling — the boys’ teams got the first pick of the prime-time slots for games. Her story reminds me of a case that the AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund is supporting right now, Parker v. Indiana High School Athletic Association. The plaintiffs in the case are arguing that the majority of boys’ basketball games are played in prime time — on Friday and Saturday nights — while the girls’ games are relegated to weeknights. The plaintiffs say that these schedules unfairly put academic burdens on the girls by forcing them to compete on school nights, discouraging crowd support, and making the girls feel like second-class athletes.

So, 40 years later, we can say that women have come a long way thanks to Title IX, but we still have a long way to go.

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This spring break, as our college friends packed suitcases filled with tank tops and swimming suits, we loaded a car with box upon box of notebooks, pens, white easel pads, and lots of snacks and prepared to go back to high school.

For our AAUW Campus Action Project, based on the research report Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School, we created an interactive, hour long writing workshop for ninth-graders called Use Your Voice. Over our spring break, we presented our workshop to 1,400 students in three public high schools in South Bend, Indiana. We also distributed copies of the AAUW report to teachers, administrators, and members of the South Bend Community School Corporation Board.

As we nervously started our first day presenting, we soon began to experience the everyday parts of high school life that we so easily forgot upon entering college. From drug-sniffing dogs to fire drills to bomb threats, we felt that we were living our high school years all over again.

During the workshops, we shared our own stories of harassment and affirmed the stories and feelings of everyone who contributed to our discussions. Almost every student shared how they witnessed sexual harassment every day in high school. Many students shared how they or a friend had experienced it. At one school, the participants shared the story of a student who committed suicide last year after seeing something hurtful that was posted on the Internet.

When a student shared a very personal story, the classes were very supportive and respectful. The openness for response was wonderful and very inspiring for us! All of the students were saddened when they heard what their peers were going through.

We asked students to share how they can try to be advocates for themselves and others. They shared how they can reach out to people they trust within school and how they can let others know that actions or words that make you uncomfortable do not have to be a part of everyday school life.

Our presentation didn’t just help girls who were being harassed, it also helped to liberate boys who didn’t want to be touched in the hallway or made fun of for their actual or perceived sexual orientations. Many of the school administrators we worked with were surprised that we wanted to talk to both girls and boys. But the reality is that talking to a single gender can’t and won’t solve this social problem. Our message this week was simple: Both girls and boys can use their voices to ensure that sexual harassment does not have to be part of their high school experience.

During the week, Use Your Voice transformed from something expressive we wanted students to write about in journals and became a way for students to truly advocate for themselves and their peers.

This post was written by Campus Action Project grantees Cat Cleary and Laura Corrigan from the St. Mary’s College team in Indiana.

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AAUW recently lent our support to a Title IX lawsuit in Indiana, signing an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff in Parker v. Indiana High School Athletic Association et al. AAUW strongly supports Title IX and opposes any efforts that would weaken its effectiveness or girls’ opportunities.

Last year, the mothers of two female high school basketball players filed suit against several Indiana school districts and the Indiana High School Athletic Association, alleging that their daughters’ rights had been violated under Title IX and the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. They claimed that the districts and association disproportionately scheduled boys’ basketball games on Friday and Saturday nights and girls’ games on school nights. The mothers argued that the schedule placed burdens on female athletes, such as limited time to study on weeknights and fewer opportunities to be seen by college recruiters.

A federal district court in Indiana ruled that the disproportionate scheduling of boys’ games on Fridays and Saturdays did not deny athletic opportunity to female athletes and was therefore not a violation of Title IX or the 14th Amendment. The plaintiffs — and AAUW — are appealing this decision, which goes against legal precedents that establish that unfair scheduling of girls’ sporting events violates Title IX. Scheduling games so that female athletes have to travel long distances during the school week or play late-night games is unfair and limits girls’ opportunities to be involved in sports.

Not only is this policy unfair, it’s also shortsighted. Girls who participate in sports are less likely to get pregnant, drop out of school, do drugs, smoke, or develop mental illness. Additionally, playing sports has been shown to improve girls’ employment potential and participation and decreases their risk of becoming obese, even decades later. It’s clear that encouraging girls to participate in sports doesn’t just help them today, it helps them throughout their lives.

The AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund’s Title IX Compliance: Know the Score Program in a Box provides resources and detailed plans to help members investigate whether schools in their community are in compliance with the law. Get involved and help improve girls’ opportunities to play sports!

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The campaign season is underway and senators are getting ready to head home, yet critical legislation remains unaddressed — its fate hanging in the balance. We must urge all senators not to leave town without passing the Paycheck Fairness Act. Further, we must encourage senators from Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, and Virginia to support the bill when it is brought up for a vote.

Read and circulate the below editorial, written by AAUW of Virginia President Caroline Pickens and AAUW Executive Director Linda Hallman, published September 5 in the Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia. Please share this editorial and call your senators today to insist that they vote to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. You can reach them easily by calling the Capitol switchboard at 202/224-3121 and asking for your senator’s office.

As we mark this Labor Day, women now comprise fully half of the total U.S. workforce. So here’s a question Virginians should consider: When will women finally earn equal pay for equal work?

You’ve probably heard the statistics. Women, on average, make just 77 cents to the dollar earned by men. In Virginia, it’s only 75 cents. In today’s economy — with so many struggling to support families and make ends meet — this inequity is intolerable. This is not a women’s issue; it’s a family issue. It’s also an economic issue for the United States as we continue to hear the cry for more stimulus dollars. But what to do?

Something historic can be done if Washington doesn’t drop the ball. And Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Jim Webb have crucial roles to play.

The Paycheck Fairness Act is a greatly needed update to the original Equal Pay Act signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. It would close loopholes, strengthen incentives to prevent pay discrimination, and bring the Equal Pay Act in line with other civil rights laws. It would also prohibit retaliation against workers who inquire about employers’ wage practices or disclose their own wages.

The Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182) is close to enactment. It has already passed the House of Representatives. President Barack Obama has said he will sign it. All that remains is a vote in the Senate, where support is stronger than it’s ever been.

But the clock is ticking, and the legislation remains stuck on the Senate calendar awaiting action.

The number of legislative days left on that calendar is dwindling. If the Senate doesn’t take action before the end of the year, we’ll have to start all over again in both chambers of a new Congress next year. Women, their families, and the country can’t afford to wait for that to happen.

That’s why we’ll be turning up the heat and telling the Senate to “get it done” and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act in September. While the Democrats, as the majority party, control the calendar by which issues are brought to a vote, Republicans also need to consent in order for the bill to come up for a vote. When 84 percent of Americans agree a bill like the Paycheck Fairness Act should be passed — according to polling data released by the Paycheck Fairness Act Coalition —partisan obstruction is unwarranted.

We urge the women of Virginia — and the men who care about them and their families — to send Warner and Webb e-mails or letters, to post Facebook and Twitter messages, to hold public events, and more. Simply tell our senators that it’s time to get it done.

In the throes of the worst recession since the Great Depression, this is more than a matter of fairness to women; it is a critical issue of protection for American families.

Time is running out. If the Senate doesn’t act soon to pass this bill, we’ll have to start all over again in both chambers of the new Congress next year. Even if both of your senators are co-sponsors, we need you to urge them to put the pressure on their colleagues and Senate leadership to ensure this important bill gets to the floor for a vote.

To find your senators’ phone numbers, use our searchable congressional directory or call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202/224-3121.

Remember that telephone calls are usually answered by a staff member, not the senator or representative. Ask to speak with the aide who handles the Paycheck Fairness Act or labor issues, and tell them it’s time to Get it Done!

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