Posts Tagged ‘Lisa Maatz’

AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz reported from the Democratic National Convention this week and from the Republican National Convention last week. See her updates at AAUW Dialog, on Facebook, and @LisaMaatz on Twitter.

Politics matter. Don’t ever doubt it. We’ve all been through two weeks of carefully scripted theater, but politics and policy still matter. Leaders matter, and role models can still make a difference. This was abundantly clear in Tampa, Florida, where people gathered even in the face of a hurricane. It’s been true here in Charlotte, North Carolina, where grinning boys waved and yelled “four more years” at me as I walked by with convention signs. It heartens me that people are paying attention, but I wasn’t sure if that was true beyond the convention bubble.

Charlotte was buzzing with anticipation on Thursday, the culminating day of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were speaking in the arena that evening. First lady Michelle Obama and fair pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter headlined the Women’s Caucus in the morning. Cabinet secretaries walked the streets, and governors roamed the convention floor. Marc Anthony sang the national anthem, former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and Mary J. Blige did an amazing cover of U2’s “One” to a standing ovation. Celebrities were all around town despite the MTV Awards being held at the same time.

I spent the day surrounded by important people, but it was an interaction with a Rite Aid cashier named Sharon that will be my defining memory of Charlotte. I was in the checkout lane buying some medicinal chocolate and tweeting madly, just as I’d done all week. As she rang me up, Sharon asked good questions: What did I think of the convention, and will it matter in November? It brought me out of my Twitter fog and into an engaging conversation.

As we were chatting, it occurred to me that I still had an extra ticket for the evening’s festivities. In a wonderful twist of fate, I ended up with two DNC credentials every day. One of these I would typically trade for other tickets or give to friends who had not been as lucky. But as I talked to Sharon, I had an epiphany. Sharon needed to see Obama speak. More than anyone I’d seen or talked to that day, Sharon deserved to see Obama speak.

I asked Sharon about her schedule — when did the store close, and when was her shift over? In retrospect, she probably thought I was a bit odd, but I was trying to see if maybe I should offer the credential. It was the big ticket of the week, and spare credentials were few and far between. Finally, I just said, “I have an extra pass for tonight. Would you like to be in the hall to hear the president speak?”  At first, I think Sharon didn’t believe me. She stopped the transaction and just looked at me. “What?” she said. I repeated my offer and held out the green credential, which was covered with official DNC logos.

Sharon took the credential from me like I was offering her my first-born child. She held it carefully and just looked at it for a moment, clearly speechless. When she looked up, she said, “I think I may cry.” In fact, tears were already running down her face. We clasped hands and introduced ourselves, and I told her I hoped she could get off work early enough to go to the arena and grab a good seat. By this time, her co-workers had gathered around. This had become an event, when I really was just offering something in the moment. I didn’t do it for me — it just seemed like the right thing to do. It occurred to me that Sharon was exactly who needed to be in that arena for the president’s speech. Not well-heeled special interests or the party faithful or cynical lobbyists who take such opportunities for granted. Sharon.

I could tell that this opportunity meant the world to her, that it might be something Sharon told her grandchildren about someday. But no matter how important it was for her, in the end it was the sharing of this experience — the simple communion between complete strangers over the importance of politics to our everyday lives — that was the true highlight of both conventions.

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The AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard voter education and turnout campaign represents an unprecedented investment in making women’s voices heard in the 2012 election. Follow us on Twitter and on Tumblr for the latest updates, and check out our biweekly Campaign Update for news, resources, and ideas.

A young woman walks into her polling place to vote — only she’s missing her identification card. She might not be allowed to cast her ballot.

But the poll worker gives her a pass. He remembers her from the primary election, when so few young people showed up to vote.

Sandra Fluke tells this true and personal story in her pep talk for the AAUW Action Fund’s It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign. Her tale rings especially true this election, a time when young women need to raise their voices and vote. Fluke also reminds us to research the voter-ID requirements before showing up to the polls this November 6 — a sentiment echoed by AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz, who gave voters her own pep talk last week.


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AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz will report from the Democratic National Convention this week and reported from the Republican National Convention last week. Follow her updates at AAUW Dialog, on Facebook, and @LisaMaatz on Twitter.

I’m in my second week representing AAUW at the political conventions, and the list of big speeches I’ve seen continues to grow. On Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention, I heard Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski make a push for pay equity, AAUW friend Sandra Fluke talk about birth control access, and Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren and former President Bill Clinton give lessons on the budget. Read a selection of my live reactions from Twitter below, or check out the full story. Also, catch up on Tuesday’s tweets, and check back on Friday for my final post. Let me know what you think!

September 5, 2012, 7:36 p.m.

All the Dem women senators on stage at #DNCV012 behind the fab @SenatorBarb, Dean of the Women! #AAUW

Paycheck Fairness Act champ @Senatorbarb talks abt imp of moving Byond Ledbetter bill to pass comprehensive reform. #AAUW leading the fight!

We care for the 100% & together we can secure the blessings of liberty — Sister Simone Campbell gives a rousing speech to #DNC2012. #AAUW

“Too many women are shut out and silenced … I’m here b/c I spoke out!” says @SandraFluke to #DNC2012 #AAUW

“An America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who never need it.” is how @SandraFluke sees Romney win #DNC2012 #AAUW

“Ppl feel like system is rigged against them. Here’s the hard part: they’re right.” Elizabeth Warren, giving populist speech #DNC2012. #AAUW

“I cant believe I hav 2say this in 2012. He (Obama) believes in a country that pays #equalpay 4 equal work.” — Elizabeth Warren #DNC2012 #AAUW

“After last night, I wanna nominate a man smart enough to marry @MichelleObama!” — Bill Clinton #DNC2012 #hellyeah #AAUW

“Poverty, discrimination & ignorance hurts economic growth. When u stifle personal opp u hurt us all.” — Bill Clinton #DNC2012 #AAUW

Does Bill Clinton help Obama where he needs it most: white women, senior women? Not sure. Lotsa them hold Monicagate grudges. #DNC2012 #AAUW

. @SandraFluke #DNC2012 speech. #AAUW so proud to have helped her get her msg out when Congress silenced her! politi.co/RNs8id

Ppl always ask how we got the budget balanced 4 yrs running. The answer is easy. Arithmetic! — Bill Clinton #DNC2012 #AAUW

We cnt afford 2giv reins of govt 2 some1 who will double dn on trickle dn … doesnt pass smell test … OR values test. -Bill Clinton #DNC2012

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Although women are now entering higher education in larger numbers than men and represent the breadwinners or co-breadwinners in a majority of families, pay equity is still not an issue that we can cross off the agenda. According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2010 median weekly earnings for women working full time was $669, while men in full-time positions earned $824. Over the course of a year, that adds up to a difference of almost $8,000. While the figures vary depending on education level and other factors, the bottom line is that women still aren’t making equal pay for equal work.

There are legislative means for achieving progress in pay equity. The Paycheck Fairness Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives in the 111th Congress and fell only two votes short of overcoming a procedural hurdle in the Senate. The Senate is considering the bill again, and AAUW is gearing up to fight for its passage. You can help by reaching out to your senator and urging her or him to co-sponsor the bill (S. 797).

The issue has also been front and center in the media. Rachel Maddow argued recently on Meet the Press that those who think the pay gap is a myth have a different “factual understanding of the world.” Part of that understanding is that women should be paid equally for performing the same work as men. AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz spoke out on CNN, which aired a fact-checking segment on the clash between Maddow and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos in an effort to dispel confusion about the matter.

AAUW has long fought to end wage discrimination and to close the persistent wage gap that affects women of all ages, races, and education levels, regardless of their family decisions. Recent AAUW research uses concrete, state-by-state data to show that sex discrimination not only continues to be a problem in the workplace but also affects the incomes of all women. It’s time to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and make progress toward ending gender pay discrimination.

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy and Government Relations Intern Madeline Shepherd.

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Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and play a vital role in the nation’s economy. Yet women, on average, make less on the dollar than men, and the gap is even greater for women of color and women with disabilities. Lower pay means less economic security not only for women but also for the families who depend on them.

Join us for a Twitter chat about equal pay for women on Friday, April 20, at noon EDT by following the hashtag #EqualPayChat.

You’ll be able to ask equal opportunity experts questions about the current pay gap and how to equip women with the necessary resources to make informed career decisions. During the discussion, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will also discuss its new Equal Pay App Challenge.

Department of Labor (@USDOL) Women’s Bureau Director Sara Manzano-Díaz and Director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Patricia Shiu will host this conversation along with National Equal Pay Task Force partners from the Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They will also welcome special guests Lisa Maatz (@LisaMaatz), public policy and government relations director from AAUW, and Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) Vice-Chair and App Challenge judge Elianne Ramos (@ergeekgoddess).

You can send your questions before or during the event via Twitter to @USDOL using the hashtag #EqualPayChat or by e-mail before the event to womensbureaunetwork@dol.gov.

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Sandra Fluke speaking at our recent Re: Action — Birth Control in 2012 panel

Two weeks ago, AAUW hosted Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke at our national office for a Re:Action panel discussion on birth control. It was our way of making sure that she had a platform to speak and be heard since she wasn’t allowed to testify at a recent hearing about contraception at the House of Representatives. That panel featured five men and no women.

So when talk show host Rush Limbaugh made blatantly sexist and offensive comments about Fluke last week, we took it personally. AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz put it simply: “His aggressive personal insults and unnecessary coarsening of the public debate are unacceptable.”

Limbaugh’s “apology” on Saturday has not stopped his show from bleeding more sponsors. His remarks outraged women (and men of good conscience) across the country — probably because it wasn’t much of an apology. Just ask Fluke. He continued attacking her today, saying that she attended Georgetown Law only to “force them to abandon religious beliefs.” This completely misrepresents Fluke’s story and shows that Limbaugh has yet to learn his lesson.

On their own, Limbaugh’s comments are reprehensible. What makes them action-worthy is how widespread their effect continues to be. Limbaugh basically told his audience of millions that a woman who uses contraception and speaks out about it is a slut. This was his attempt to shame Fluke into silence. And it was a clear message to women everywhere: Speak out, and you’ll be punished in the same way.

Limbaugh may not listen to women, but his apology on Saturday shows that he pays attention to sponsors. Make sure he gets the message that women won’t stand for these kinds of attacks. Call, tweet, or write a Facebook update telling his sponsors that they only hurt themselves by supporting intolerant and offensive commentary.

It’s tough to pin down an exact list of sponsors, especially because some are local and others are national. To the best of our knowledge, here is a list of current national sponsors that have yet to pull support from Limbaugh’s show. Take action and tell them to stop supporting Limbaugh and his vicious rhetoric.

Lear Capital

Twitter: @GoldCoinPro (Kevin DeMeritt)

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LearCapital

Phone: 800/576-9355

Other: See their response to Limbaugh’s comments


Twitter: @LifeLock

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LifeLock

E-mail: tami@lifelock.com

Phone: 800/543-3562

Need ideas for tweets and Facebook updates? Make sure to link to this blog post and use the hashtag #StopRush. And tweet at Limbaugh himself using his handle, @rushlimbaugh. Here’s some sample language in case you need inspiration.


Stand up for Sandra, stand up for women, and #StopRush http://bit.ly/xtnNlE

Tell @rushlimbaugh advertisers not to support personal attacks on women #StopRush http://bit.ly/xtnNlE

Thanks to the advertisers who stood with women and pulled sponsorship from @rushlimbaugh #StopRush www.huff.to/xaQjsQ


Let companies know they should not support Rush Limbaugh’s anti-women commentary with sponsorship — join me in standing up for Sandra Fluke and for women everywhere by contacting these sponsors today http://bit.ly/xtnNlE

This post was written by Rachel Wallace and Lisa Maatz.

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From left: Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, Catholics for Choice Domestic Program Director Sara Hutchinson, AAUW top policy adviser Lisa Maatz, Washington Post writer Ann Gerhart

It’s been hard to turn on the news over the past few weeks without hearing the debate over women’s access to contraception. This debate was further inflamed by last week’s House of Representatives hearing on birth control that featured five men and no women on its opening panel. Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown University, was scheduled to testify about how women are harmed when denied access to birth control. But she was turned away by the chair of the committee, who believed she was “not appropriate or qualified” to testify. Fluke’s exclusion meant that no witness would speak directly to women’s health and that no woman’s voice would be heard in the opening panel.

AAUW decided to give Fluke a voice by inviting her to speak at a public forum on Wednesday night. Featuring Fluke, Catholics for Choice Domestic Program Director Sara Hutchinson, Washington Post writer Ann Gerhart, and AAUW’s own top policy adviser Lisa Maatz, the panel talked about why access to birth control — a right most U.S. women take for granted — is still threatened in 2012 and how women can mobilize to make sure they aren’t silenced any longer.

In addition to online activism, Gerhart urged people to take their outrage offline. “Just saying you like something on Facebook is not activism,” she said. “You have to have your boots on the ground and show up.” Hutchinson encouraged the crowd to “keep saying what you know is true,” even in the face of criticism. Maatz predicted that this will become an election issue and “could very well change who gets elected.”

This debate shows no signs of ending. On Thursday morning, House Democrats held a Democratic Policy Committee hearing featuring Fluke, who spoke about the need for accessible, affordable contraception. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that more than 300,000 women have told Congress that they support contraception and the need for women’s voices when lawmakers talk about women’s health. Pelosi also told the packed room that House Administration Committee Chair Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) had denied the use of congressional resources to record and broadcast the event, an about-face from normal House procedure. This was just another attempt to silence Fluke and women’s voices.

AAUW’s event may be over, but we’re not done with this issue. We’d love to hear from you, either through comments on the blog, on our Facebook page, or through Twitter using the hashtag #wmnreact.

Women will make themselves heard, whether it’s through social media, talking to friends and family, contacting elected officials, or turning out on election day. It’s our vote and our voice — we will be heard.

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My daughter, Alex, and her friend, Eddie, at a recent trip to the College Park Aviation Museum.

My daughter, who is almost 6, recently told me a story about how her teacher addressed a situation where a classmate with a physical disability was excluded from an activity by her peers. After explaining that we are all “made differently” and face different challenges, she asked the class, “What makes you different?” My daughter responded, “I like boy stuff.”

She would love to see Red Tails, a new film about the World War II Tuskegee Airmen, planes, aeronautic “dog fights,” and war but also a story about discrimination, courage, friendship, and heroism.

So I find it especially bizarre that school officials in Dallas decided that thousands of fifth-grade girls would not appreciate this movie. According to the Dallas Morning News, the district spent $57,000 to send all of the boys to see the movie in theaters, both because World War II is part of the fifth-grade curriculum and in celebration of Black History Month. The girls stayed at school because, reportedly, there wasn’t room in the theaters for everyone and the boys would enjoy the film more than girls would.

Some girls had the option to watch another movie, Akeelah and the Bee, but only if their school principal approved. I suspect that the girls will get much less out of the instruction devoted to the Tuskegee Airmen because they have not seen Red Tails. Sadly, school administrators squandered the opportunity to discuss why there were no Tuskegee airwomen or to talk about the contributions of black American women to the war effort.

AAUW supports strong enforcement of Title IX, a federal law that prohibits schools that receive federal funds from gender-based discrimination in educational programs. Clearly, as AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz said, this is “educational programming based on stereotypes,” and sends the harmful message that “boys get to go out and have an adventure, and girls stay at school and do what they are told.”

As a mom, I understand that the historic figures in Red Tails are men, but what I flatly refute is the assumption that this movie has a gender preference. In a way, I want to thank the Dallas school district for bringing this movie to my attention. Since my daughter loves planes and “boy stuff,” we will definitely see it together and learn more about the proud history of our country — something everyone can appreciate.


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As a young woman about to acquire a master’s degree and head out into a workforce beleaguered by recession and high unemployment, the gender wage gap weighs heavily on my mind. Why, after obtaining an equal education and entering the same job markets, should I make less money than my male friends? The answer is, of course, that I shouldn’t.

But 48 years after the Equal Pay Act became law and two years after the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed, women entering the exact same jobs with the exact same education as men are still paid 5 percent less, a gap that only increases across sectors and throughout our lifetimes.

Luckily for me and other women in the workforce, the current economic situation has turned the spotlight onto the critical need for fair pay more than ever before. Last week, Women’s Policy Inc., in cooperation with Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Gwen Moore (D-WI) and the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, sponsored an event aimed at highlighting the impact of the gender wage gap on women and families and proposing possible solutions for achieving equal pay.

Lisa Maatz, AAUW’s director of public policy and government relations, spoke at the event. An expert on fair pay, Maatz expressed her confidence that the United States is on the cusp of major breakthroughs for women and their paychecks. Defining fair pay as a bipartisan issue, she emphasized that both legislative and extra-legislative steps are needed to close the wage gap between men and women. Maatz stated that in addition to passing legislation, federal and state agencies can actively support equal pay in the private sector by using existing resources to provide technical assistance, collect data on best practices, and properly fund equal pay enforcement organizations. She also said that increasing women’s and girls’ participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields is a critical step toward closing the gender wage gap.

Warning that the so-called “man-cession” is too quickly becoming a “he-covery” focused on finding jobs for men, Maatz declared that now more than ever is the critical time to ensure women have equal access and equal pay to support their careers, their families, their households, and the entire economy.

As a young woman who would prefer to start her career without an automatic encumbrance based solely on gender, I couldn’t agree more.

If you want to take action on closing the wage gap and other issues important to women, sign up for the AAUW Action Network.

This post was written by Public Policy Intern Katie Donlevie.

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At a National Science Foundation event on Monday, the White House took a significant step toward advancing women’s and girls’ participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. AAUW President Carolyn Garfein, Executive Director Linda Hallman, and Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz attended the event, which featured a speech by first lady Michelle Obama. She spoke about the vital role that women play in advancing America’s economy and global status. “If we’re going to out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world, we’ve got to open doors for everyone,” she said. “We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.”

AAUW’s regional STEM programs were highlighted in the speeches, and we were lauded as one of the administration’s top partners in higher education policy development.

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The event followed an announcement the same morning of the Obama administration’s new NSF Career-Life Balance Initiative, which will boost recruitment and retention of women in STEM careers. The initiative is a 10-year plan to improve work-life flexibility for individuals receiving federal grants in STEM research fields and includes provisions such as the ability to delay or suspend federal grants for parental leave or to accommodate the birth or adoption of a child.

With this initiative, the NSF will make a huge dent in the environmental and social barriers that currently face women entering STEM careers. AAUW’s Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics research report found that women academics and researchers in STEM fields are much more likely than men to end or change their careers due to the lack of career-life balance support provided by the typically male-dominated fields. As the leading source of federal grants for technology development in the United States, the NSF has extensive power to encourage women to enter the STEM arena and, once there, to provide them with the support they need to excel in both their careers and lives.

AAUW is proud to partner with the Obama administration and the NSF in implementing such a significant program, and we encourage other organizations, universities, and businesses to develop work-life balance initiatives that will boost women’s critical participation in STEM programs across the United States.

This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Fellow Katie Donlevie.

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