Posts Tagged ‘research’

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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AAUW has made tremendous strides for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) since our founding more than 130 years ago. Over the years, we have produced cutting-edge research, convened discussions with key policy makers, and supported leading female thinkers like scientist Marie Curie and astronauts Judith Resnik and Mae Jemison through our fellowships and grants. Now, with a new STEM partnership and expanded programs for girls throughout the country, our work won’t slow down in 2013.

Here’s a look at what’s ahead.


Partnership with STEMconnector
AAUW is proud to announce that we have become a nonprofit sponsor of STEMconnector, an organization that works to bring together companies, nonprofit groups, and policy makers focused on building diversity in STEM. On January 30, 2013, AAUW will host a town hall discussion on STEMconnector’s latest research report, which analyzes the STEM job market and aims to help connect students to employers. From AAUW’s own research, we know how crucial it is to encourage more women to consider careers in STEM, and we’re excited to join STEMconnector in this endeavor.

Expanding STEM Programs for Girls

AAUW is pleased to kick off 2013 by expanding Tech Trek and Tech Savvy, two wildly successful programs that started at the branch and state levels, to reach girls nationwide:

Tech Trek
This year, Tech Trek summer camps will go nationwide with the addition of five new sites. Tech Trek has inspired more than 9,000 campers since it was founded in 2008 in California. These camps take 12- and 13-year-old girls on a weeklong “trek” to a local college campus for a chance to explore their potential in science and technology. Girls connect with role models through interactive classes, field trips, and workshops led by women professionals. And the camp draws some outstanding experts: Tech Trek campers have heard from many amazing role models, like the late astronaut Sally Ride and former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz.

The new camps will launch in Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington, including in rural areas where programs like Tech Trek are most needed.

Tech Savvy
AAUW’s Tech Savvy program is a day of hands-on STEM workshops and informational sessions for sixth–ninth grade girls and their parents. The conference spurs excitement about STEM and gives girls the inspiration they need to pursue that interest through high school and college. AAUW will be expanding the highly successful program — which launched in Buffalo, New York, in 2006 — with the support of Tech Savvy founder Tamara Brown, who just last year was recognized by the White House for her efforts to increase the number of women engaged in STEM. AAUW is proud that Praxair Inc.’s sponsorship has made it possible to launch Tech Savvy at 10 pilot sites in the coming year.

In a world where gender bias and stereotypes prevent girls from pursuing STEM, these programs really matter. Tech Trek and Tech Savvy help girls at a critical time in their lives: right before they enter high school and begin to choose their educational paths. And the partnership with STEMconnector strengthens our efforts to make STEM fields more accessible for women in the workplace. 2013 is just the start for AAUW and STEM!

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December 1 marks the 25th annual World Aids Day. People around the world spend the day raising awareness about HIV and AIDS through education and activism. We also show our support for people living with HIV and AIDS and commemorate those who have died. The disease affects people of all ages, ethnicities, sexes, and sexual identities in every country and is the leading cause of death globally for women of reproductive age.

Melissa Browning

Melissa Browning

AAUW is proud to have many fellows and grantees whose work focuses on HIV and AIDS prevention, education, and care. In some parts of the world, women are disproportionately affected by the disease. In sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, for example, more than half of people living with HIV are women. According to the World Health Organization, “most people living with HIV or at risk for HIV do not have access to prevention, care, and treatment, and there is still no cure.” That is why the work done by researchers and activists is so critical. And we’re very proud of the 2012–13 AAUW fellows who are working on HIV and AIDS education and prevention.

Melissa Browning of Loyola University, Chicago, is an ordained Baptist minister who is writing about marriage, HIV, and AIDS in East Africa. She closely examines the relationship between social and religious teachings on female sexuality and abstinence and the realities women face in Africa. Browning’s research suggests that access to complete sexual health education and services would empower women and help decrease the spread of HIV and AIDS. For many women, sexual violence and power imbalances make it extremely difficult, if not dangerous, to negotiate condom use. Browning is working with churches and local groups in Tanzania to empower women and promote healthier marriages.

Eloho Tobrise, a geography doctoral student at the University of Washington, is doing

Eloho Tobrise

Eloho Tobrise

research on gender, HIV, and AIDS in rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa with particular focus on adolescent girls in secondary schools. She plans to develop an effective intervention model tailored to the unique needs of rural women in her native Nigeria.

Michelle Jimenez is a community health doctoral student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she is doing research on health disparities in HIV risk shaped by socioeconomic and cultural determinants among people in the Dominican Republic. She is focusing on the effect of educational differentials on gender inequalities in HIV vulnerability. According to the 2011 U.N. World AIDS Day Report, young women in the Caribbean are more likely than young men to be infected with HIV.

Michelle Jimenez

Michelle Jimenez

HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment are global issues, and today is just another part of the movement. To get more information about World AIDS Day, how you can find a local testing center, and how you can show your support, check out the resources at aids.gov.

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

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I grew up in the Washington, D.C., area. Several of our school systems notoriously underperform amid poverty and socio-economic disparities. But I didn’t want to become another statistic in a system that is so closely associated with juvenile delinquency and crime.

I defied the odds by attending college to create a better life for myself. My four-year journey has been arduous. Through late nights spent writing papers and studying for exams, I have learned that success can be achieved through higher education.

I have been able to finance my education through grants and scholarships. Unfortunately, many of my peers are graduating from college burdened by thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Sadly, receiving an education often means being saddled with debt.

The U.S. Department of Education estimates that in 2010–11, the average college tuition was $13,600 at public colleges and $36,300 at private institutions. These statistics are particularly disheartening for women who seek to enter the workforce upon college graduation. As a senior, I am crippled by the fear of adulthood and the process of searching for a job in a harsh economy. In addition to these fears, I am facing the tragic truth that my gender will put me at a disadvantage in the job market. When I look to the future, I often wonder if my daughters will face these same struggles.

Tremendous strides have been made to promote gender equality in the workplace. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This legislation is a positive step toward helping end sexist employer practices. This act empowers women to seek legal remedies against sex discrimination by allowing the statute of limitations to reset every time a woman receives a discriminatory paycheck.

Despite this step forward, women still face a pay gap just one year after college graduation. And while paying back student loans is a challenge for all of my college friends — female and male — it is especially difficult for my women friends thanks to this gap. AAUW’s recent report, Graduating to a Pay Gap, illustrates the connection between mounting student loan debt and pay discrimination.

According to the study, one year after college graduation, the average woman in my situation will get paid just 82 percent of what her male classmate is paid. As women, we have fought for an end to gender-based discrimination. Yet, in spite of the efforts of generations of women, we are still struggling in 2012 to be paid fair salaries.

As members of the millennial generation, we are fooled into believing that all of the great battles for equality for women ended in the 1970s. This is a naive presumption. As women, we can fight for equal pay by working within the legal system to report pay inequality. We must be our own advocates in demanding salaries equal to those of our male counterparts. The choice to dismantle these sexist institutions is ours. It is up to us to ensure the next generation of young women no longer has to fight. Let’s make sure that the battle for pay equality ends with us.

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


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On October 24, AAUW will release a new report, Graduating to a Pay Gap. The following is the third installment of Gap and Gown, a new blog series inspired by the forthcoming research.

AAUW has been at the forefront of advocacy for fair pay for women for more than 100 years.

In 1894, the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, the precursor to AAUW, partnered with the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor to examine the pay of college-educated women by collecting employment and salary information from ACA members. The bureau analyzed the data, and ACA published the results in the 1896 report Compensation in Certain Occupations of Women Who Have Received College or Other Special Training.

The report is fascinating. It is the testimony of the women themselves that proves most interesting. These rare, first-person accounts of women’s work experiences at that time are not often found in archival collections — or anywhere, for that matter.

Here are a few quotes from the report. As you read them, remember that they were written in 1894!

The woman in industry who finds herself employed in the occupations which are open to men and who frequently performs identical work for a salary or for wages much below those paid her co-workers of the opposite sex is naturally apt to inquire what reason, economic or other, justifies this inequality.

Men oftener than women have to support others. In spite of this, I cannot see why a man should be paid $200 more than I am paid to do the same work when he does it no better.

I know that my work here is appreciated and is paid because of its worth. I think many women are helping to keep down the rate of women’s wages by consenting to work for less compensation than would be given to a man for the same grade.

When I was doing office work, I received $6 a week and kept the books and was a typewriter, too. If a man had been employed for this work, his pay would have been $15 a week, and he would not have been required to perform the general office work. He would have been a professional bookkeeper, however, which I was not.

Women are fearful of asserting their inherent rights, standing as they now do on the verge of freedom. The time, however, is not far off when women will have a voice in making just laws for themselves and others, and this will no doubt have an effect in securing equal remuneration for equal services to both sexes.

Today we call “equal remuneration for equal service” by its simpler title: equal pay for equal work. On October 24, AAUW will release its latest equal pay report, Graduating to a Pay Gap, which builds on the shoulders of these women who worked on the issue more than a century ago.

This post was written by AAUW Archivist and Records Manager Suzanne Gould.

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Flash Mob for Equal Pay, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.During my nearly five years at AAUW, I have had the privilege of participating in a number of very fun activities to raise awareness about an extremely serious problem — the gender wage gap, which puts women at an economic disadvantage and puts many families on shaky financial ground. We have danced in the rain, cheered on Batgirl, and tweeted up a storm for fair pay — actions that were all firmly rooted in our solid research.

We’re pleased to formally announce that later this month we’re taking the conversation to an even more informed level with the release of a new AAUW report, Graduating to a Pay Gap. Our researchers will look at the gender pay gap with a very specific group in mind: college men and women who are working full time just one year after graduation. Why this group? Because focusing on them is the best way to do an apples-to-apples comparison of men’s and women’s wages controlling for age, education, experience, and other factors that might affect pay.

The new report, which will be released October 24, is an update of sorts to AAUW’s widely cited Behind the Pay Gap, which found that one year out of college, women earned just 80 percent of what their male peers earned. Graduating to a Pay Gap, authored by Christianne Corbett and Catherine Hill, is Behind the Pay Gap with a timely twist. In addition to providing the latest salary data for this population — whose average age is 23 — the report will also look at the other reasons why some students make more than others. It isn’t obvious who brings home the biggest pay check, so stay tuned to find out interesting stats about what affects pay. For example, do women attending private universities have a better chance of avoiding the pay gap than their peers at state schools?

Starting today, under a new blog series we’re calling Gap and Gown, we’ll have regular posts focused on issues raised in the new report. Then, in November, we’ll hold a panel discussion at our national office with experts such as the nationally recognized financial aid guru and FinAid.org publisher Mark Kantrowitz and AAUW Director of Public Policy and Government Relations Lisa Maatz, who is a contributing author to Secrets of Powerful Women: Leading Change for a New Generation.

In the meantime, if you come across a great Instagram photo or image that illustrates the wage gap or the student debt problem in a gendered way, please tweet at @AAUWPress so we can share it with our followers. This issue must remain front and center — unless we want to do what the brilliant equal pay poster  of the smiling boy and the not-so-happy girl says and prepare our daughters for working life by giving them less pocket money.

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How do people put AAUW research reports like Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School to use? To find out, AAUW Director of Research Catherine Hill and I recently talked to a few AAUW members who are applying the findings from Crossing the Line to their communities. We asked these women about their motivation, the process, and where research really made a difference.

Our members are inspired to take on sexual harassment in schools for a variety of reasons. Mardy Stevens of AAUW of Oregon mentioned that she was driven by the severity of what she learned — especially that sexual harassment “often causes life-changing direction, such as dropping out of school.” Karen Francis of AAUW of Missouri was inspired by her experiences as a high school administrator and school counselor. “In these positions, I’ve seen firsthand what is occurring in our schools and the impact that harassment through social media has on students,” she says.

From left: AAUW Gresham Area (OR) Branch members Carla Piluso, Cynthia Rauscher, and Mardy Stevens

As they reached out, both women heard stories from students who experienced sexual harassment. These stories encouraged Stevens and Francis to continue their work. Both met with teachers or school officials to talk about preventing sexual harassment and how to take action. For example, Francis held mandatory conferences with the parents of students who had allegedly harassed others. “Never was ‘boys will be boys’ accepted as an excuse for a young man’s behavior!” she says.

Francis encountered some obstacles along the way, including a lack of school policies that address the issues of bullying and harassment. To help overcome this problem she says, “We hope to collaborate on creating a model sexual harassment and bullying policy that can be shared with 65 area superintendents and offering AAUW’s PowerPoint presentations to administrators, staff, and community members.”

Members like Stevens and Francis had some ideas for other AAUW members who want to make a difference but are not sure where to start. Francis suggests that you “utilize your branch members to network with school personnel and local organizations to get your foot in the door to begin a discussion on this important topic.”

Stevens agrees. “Use your contacts … use who you know,” she says. “Meeting with the school superintendent had worked in the school district, and [we] chose to meet him informally — at a separate event — and let him know we would like to meet with him to find out more about the issue of sexual harassment in our schools. It really helps if AAUW is known in the community.”

It also helps to be prepared. Stevens says that she and her fellow branch members were ready with hard copies of the report, websites, and the ability to articulate AAUW’s history, especially in advocacy. She found the AAUW Outlook issue on Crossing the Line to be helpful as well. Stevens also found that it matters whom you speak with first. “In talking with school employees about Crossing the Line and sexual harassment policies in schools, start at the top if possible,” she says. “Connecting with teaching staff, parent-teacher groups, and building administrators can easily be negatively interpreted. The superintendent, school board members, and other top-level district staff can have broader influence.”

Good advice for a good cause! Interested in presenting copies of the research to a local middle or high school? You can order free copies of Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School and executive summaries of the report through ShopAAUW. Check out our Program in a Box, and download a copy of a presentation that you can share in your community.

Have you done something like this already? Please share your perspective in the comment section below!

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Barbara McClintockBarbara McClintock, whose work revolved around the study of maize, changed the world of genetics. This brilliant, self-effacing scientist — the first woman to win an unshared Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine — said in her official statement about the award, “It might seem unfair to reward a person for having so much pleasure over the years, asking the maize plant to solve specific problems and then watching its responses.” That the pronoun “I” is absent says much about McClintock.

While writing a biography about her, I learned that AAUW played a key role in supporting McClintock’s groundbreaking work. Born in 1903 as the third of four children, McClintock studied at Cornell University and earned her doctorate in 1927. When she was researching in the 1940s, funding was scarce, and 95 percent of awards from other large programs were going to men. In 1947, AAUW was one of the first national organizations to recognize McClintock’s research with a financial prize. The $2,500 AAUW Achievement Award cited work that “yielded epoch-making results … with brilliant promise of still further achievement.”

In her acceptance speech in Dallas, McClintock called for greater support of young people who are interested in science — especially women. “On these young scientists we must concentrate much of our effort if we wish to preserve this potential source of cultural wealth,” she said. As a lifelong member of AAUW, I related to this statement, which confirmed once again the value of our mission of advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research.

In her early breakthroughs, McClintock embodied this potential. She identified the 10 maize chromosomes and proved the theory of “crossing over,” the phenomenon of genetic material switching places between chromosomes. When she proved that genes aren’t static on chromosomes but can move about and control other genes, the press dubbed the finding “jumping genes.” Because McClintock worked alone with no secretary or lab assistants and published very little of her research, it took decades for the world to recognize that her meticulous work applied not just to maize but to all living organisms.

McClintock, who died in 1992, has been called one of the most important figures in 20th century science. Her insights into genetics earned her worldwide recognition. But McClintock cared as much about the future of science and those who would become scientists as she did about her own work. “Young people have to be motivated to know what they’re doing,” she said. “We need to have people who know organisms can do fantastic things.” This, too, goes to the heart of what AAUW stands for.

We should all be proud of the important part AAUW played in encouraging this dedicated scientist long before the world recognized her remarkable, pioneering contributions to the field of genetics.

This post was written by AAUW Del Mar-Leucadia (CA) Branch member Edith Hope Fine. Her book, now in e-reader format, will be available for free for Kindle June 16–17.


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“I get by with a little help from my friends” is the tune running through our heads as we anticipate posting the list of our 2012–13 AAUW fellowship and grant recipients. These women will receive more than a little help — $4.3 million in funding — from their friends, the thousands of generous AAUW donors who passionately support our prestigious fellowships and grants programs.

AAUW Fellow Naomi Ondrasek

On Friday, April 13, we will announce the new class of AAUW fellows and grantees and welcome them into an extraordinary group of inspiring women. We look forward to meeting them, learning about their careers and experiences, seeing them join this exclusive group, and sharing their stories with you. We know they’ll be excited! As we’ve gotten to know our past recipients, we’ve loved hearing the stories of how honored they felt when they were selected for their AAUW awards.

The University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division’s website profiled 2011–12 American Fellow Naomi Ondrasek after she received her award. In the interview, she described the morning she found out about her fellowship.

“The night before that date, I didn’t sleep very well,” says Ondrasek, whose dissertation research is on the mouse-like rodent known as the meadow vole. “Like a lot of other graduate students, I was feeling anxious about my funding situation for the upcoming year.” The next morning, she “literally rolled out of bed and walked straight toward the computer. I pulled up the AAUW website, and bam! The recipient list was up.” Although sleepy and reluctant to face the results, “I figured I should treat it like ripping a Band-Aid off — just do it and deal with the emotional consequences later.” She opened the list and “scrolled down for what seemed like forever, didn’t see my name, and felt deflated.”

“Then I realized I was looking under the wrong award, so I scrolled farther down, and there I was!” (At this point, her tale briefly takes on a sitcom aspect.) “I was so excited to tell someone, I ran from the computer, threw open the door to the bedroom, and scared the daylights out of my husband, who had been sound asleep. He sat bolt upright in bed, asking what was wrong and if someone had broken into the house.”

Ondrasek’s story is a great reminder of how important AAUW fellowships and grants are to the recipients. Alumnae of this program have told us that AAUW gave them a chance when they had lost hope in their studies or were not advancing professionally, or that their awards opened academic and occupational doors that they had never expected. We certainly hope that no one is losing sleep over our upcoming announcement, and we look forward to welcoming all awardees into the AAUW family!

To learn more about Ondrasek and her research, read the full blog on UC Berkeley’s website. And don’t forget to check our website for the award-recipient list on April 13!

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Elyssa Shildneck.

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Close your eyes, and imagine yourself back in your fourth-grade classroom. Most of you will remember your teachers, your little desks, and the important events that took place during that year. My most vivid memory is of being the line leader, the biggest honor a fourth-grader could receive. Only the students with the highest grades and the best behavior were allowed to be first in line and lead their classes around school. I thought that as soon as I became the line leader, I gained leadership skills. But new research suggests this may not have been the case. Evie Stone, a special education teacher at Vista Middle School in Van Nuys, California, used a similar system in her classrooms to motivate students. But when she realized that they were only doing the right thing because they would be rewarded, she stopped using this kind of motivation and instead empowered her students to take on leadership roles when they saw that something needed to be done. For Stone, this was the real secret behind cultivating leadership.

Other research has also found that rewarding students by placing a heavy emphasis on grades and prizes puts the growth of children’s internal motivation at risk. A recent study by Ronald E. Riggio, the Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College, found that leadership development starts in early childhood. Children as young as two can show specific signs that predict their ability to lead as adults, such as taking on new experiences willingly, supporting their peers, seeking knowledge about lessons from their parents, and committing to new activities. Simply put, a child who seeks to learn new things and who has parental support could become a leader later in life. This new discovery might mean that in classrooms, leadership is not simply a way to reward good behavior — it is an opportunity for continuous growth with the support of others.

And while leadership may stem from childhood experiences, even adults can build those skills. This year’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders will help women who are in college or graduate school to develop their leadership skills. Every year, this event helps hundreds of women build their skills, thanks to workshops and inspiring speakers.

Empowerment and support from our parents, teachers, and mentors are important in our childhood years and continue to play a role as we enter into adulthood. So whether your passions and interests were fostered at young age or you are just on the verge of making your mark, you too can grow to become a leader.

Can you remember your first childhood leadership experience and the impact that it had on you? Or did your path to leadership start in adulthood?

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

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