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On November 15, AAUW held a panel discussion on our groundbreaking new report, Graduating to a Pay Gap. In addition to an audience of more than 60 attendees at our national office in Washington, D.C., the panel was broadcast online, including 60 AAUW watch parties held across the country. Graduating to a Pay Gap found that women one year out of college are paid less than their male peers to the tune of only 82 cents to the dollar — an inequity that makes it more difficult for young women graduates to pay off their student loans.

The panel was moderated by Jenna Johnson, an education reporter for the Washington Post, and panelists included Avis Jones-DeWeever, National Council of Negro Women executive director; Catherine Hill,AAUW director of research and report co-author; Christianne Corbett, AAUW senior researcher and report co-author; Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid and Fast Web; Lisa Maatz, AAUW director of public policy and government relations; and Bethany Imondi, AAUW National Student Advisory Council member and Georgetown University student.

The panel concluded with a lively, 30-minute question-and-answer session with queries gathered via phone, e-mail, and Twitter — using the hashtag #GapandGown — and from the live audience. Attendees asked a number of thoughtful questions on topics such as salary negotiation skills; women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; and fair pay legislation. We were not able to fully address all of the great questions asked during the event, so we wanted to cover a few more points in depth for our AAUW Dialog readers. For more information, you can download the full report for free from our website.

How does the pay gap affect different races and ethnicities? Several people asked us about the pay gap among women and men of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. In the labor force as a whole, women and men who are black or Hispanic are typically paid less than their white or Asian American peers. Black and Hispanic women are paid less than their male counterparts, but the gender gap is narrower within these racial and ethnic groups than it is among whites or Asian Americans. In our dataset of college graduates working full time one year after graduation, the pay gap was still evident within races and ethnicities. Among black, Hispanic, and white workers, men were paid more than their female counterparts in the same racial or ethnic group just one year out of college. Further research is needed to fully understand how race, ethnicity, and gender interact.

How does the pay gap affect earnings over a lifetime? The pay gap adds up to a lot of money over a lifetime. According to one estimate, college-educated women working full time are paid more than half a million dollars less than their male peers over the course of their careers.

So what can we do?

  • Increase transparency in pay systems and make salary ranges for specific job titles available to all employees to allow workers to put their wages in context.
  • Conduct internal pay equity studies and take steps to address any gender disparities.
  • Pass the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 3220/H.R. 1519).

Did you participate in a watch party? Share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you haven’t yet, check out the webcast of the event.

This post was written by AAUW Director of Research Catherine Hill.

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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.

 

I have run voter registration drives at universities before, and I’ve always been disappointed with the outcomes. I felt like there was a lot of contact and visibility, but few people were interested in stopping to fill out forms. So I wanted to target students in a place where they would be more likely to listen to the message and to engage in the process — in their classrooms. I started making connections with faculty to get permission to attend and speak in their classes.

From left: AAUW Buckhannon (WV) Branch President Patty McComas, State Organizer Amanda Barber, Program Chair Sylvia Elmore

Working at a university afforded me the opportunity to speak directly with faculty and staff because I have a name they already recognize. I made it clear to them that I was speaking as a campaign organizer for a nonpartisan group — AAUW. I asked them if I could come into their classroom to talk about voting, encourage their students to register to vote and fill out voter pledges and reminder postcards, and recruit them to volunteer with the It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard campaign. Even though my existing relationships helped me get my foot in the door, this strategy is completely feasible for anyone who works with college faculty and administrators, as many AAUW branches do so well.

A typical class visit goes like this: I come into the classroom with It’s My Vote pledge postcards, voter registration forms for the state of West Virginia, and an impassioned plea for students to vote on November 6. I ask them to name what day of the week Election Day falls on and what they think they will be doing that day. Why? Some institutions do not give the day off to vote, and students may already have work or class scheduled. Then we discuss early voting and absentee voting. I ask who is registered and plans to vote in West Virginia. I ask them to fill out It’s My Votevoter pledge postcards, which AAUW will send to them a few weeks before the election as a reminder to vote. I run down the voter eligibility requirements in West Virginia and ask them if there is anyone who would like to register. I provide students with voter registration forms and instructions in addition to the pledge postcards.

I also ask who is not planning on voting and why. Most students who raise their hands say things like “my vote doesn’t count” or “I don’t like anyone who’s running.” In response to this, I seek feedback from other students. I ask those who say they are voting to tell me why. One woman said, “I go to the polls every single election because someone died for my right to cast a vote.” Other students have said, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.”

To illustrate to students why voting is particularly important for them, I ask how many are currently receiving Pell Grants. I tell them that Pell Grants are federal funds, which means that the amount available is determined by their elected officials. I also tell the students that if they rely on those funds, they need to let their legislators know. Then I give them a scenario to get them thinking about civic engagement and how it doesn’t end once we’ve cast a ballot. I take the first row of students and say, “Let’s pretend that this room has elected me as the leader, and this first row regularly sends me e-mails regarding what they think I should do as their representative. The first row has decided that the class should be represented by a green flag. The other rows in the room disagree with this when they hear that it will become law, but all they do is complain to each other on Facebook or in the halls. They never let me, your elected representative, know how they feel, so I work diligently to get that resolution about the green flag passed.” Slowly but surely, the students start nodding their heads — I can tell they are thinking about the importance of voting on November 6 and speaking up about the issues they care about on November 7 and beyond.

It is incredibly energizing to be in a room full of students. These experiences have renewed me during my get-out-the-vote efforts. In every class I have visited, I have encountered challenges and encouragement that have helped me focus my energies and expand my knowledge. I am very thankful for the professors who have allowed me access to their classrooms. I look forward to having many students from these classes as volunteers during National Voter Registration Week efforts.

This post was written by It’s My Vote West Virginia campaign organizer Amanda Barber. Barber is an AAUW member who served on the 2006–07 National Student Advisory Council. To join West Virginia’s It’s My Vote effort, e-mail VoterEd@aauw.org.

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For most college freshmen, the first few weeks of September are filled with the hustle and bustle of settling in to a new home away from home — purchasing textbooks, transforming small dormitories into sanctuaries, learning to navigate campus, and scouting out new friendships. However, in their quests to establish their identities on campus, many college students neglect to partake in perhaps one of the most effective ways of making their newly independent voices heard: registering to vote. Although young people ages 18–31 are one of the largest subsets of the electorate, millennial voter turnout continues to lag far behind older voters, which effectively silences an integral part of our population.

There are more than 125 institutions of higher education across Massachusetts and 85 in the Boston metropolitan area alone, and AAUW of Massachusetts recognizes the need to reach out to this traditionally underrepresented demographic through the It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard voter education and turnout campaign. Eight branches and the state’s It’s My Vote street team have been hard at work to register students at colleges across the commonwealth, including two-year colleges like North Shore Community College, state schools like Worcester State University, and private institutions like Boston University. Using the techniques outlined in AAUW’s Woman-to-Woman Voter Turnout manual, branch and national members alike have made personal appeals at welcome-week fairs and tabled at student activities centers urging millennial women to vote. Relatively simple and inexpensive to plan, voter registration drives at local colleges and universities have the potential to yield substantial results in bringing the millennial generation to voting booths in droves.

What’s the key to ensuring that your campus voter registration drive will be successful? According to the AAUW of Massachusetts It’s My Vote street team, partnerships with existing campus student groups and administrative organizations are integral to any successful voter registration drive at a local college or university. The street team is currently working with Omega Phi Alpha, a community service sorority at Boston University, to implement a series of voter registration and canvassing efforts in the Greater Boston area throughout September and October.

“One of the biggest trends that you see across college campuses beyond just Boston is that students aren’t aware that they’re eligible to vote from their college addresses,” says Gabrielle Kur, president of the Alpha Mu chapter of Omega Phi Alpha. “We were grateful that AAUW of Massachusetts was willing to reach out to partner with us to develop more zeal on Boston campuses for voting this November, especially among young millennial women like us. Omega Phi Alpha is all about promoting strong women leaders, and strong women definitely vote.”

By reaching out to millennial women and encouraging them to make their votes count this November, your branch is doing more than just promoting civic participation — you’re showing younger women that both their votes and their voices are important. As AAUW of Massachusetts President Barbara Burgo says, “Fall is a busy time for college students, their families, and administration alike. But this year, with all the legislation that will impact us for years to come — especially in the area of women’s health — we must impress upon everyone the importance of getting out the vote in 2012! And what better way to accomplish this than sharing the information we have been receiving weekly from AAUW regarding our important national campaign, It’s My Vote: I Will Be Heard! Because, as we often say in AAUW, equity is still an issue! So register by the deadline and vote! Our future depends on it.”

This post was written by It’s My Vote Massachusetts campaign organizer Becca Rutenberg. Read more about her and about It’s My Vote in the Fall issue of Outlook magazine.

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Following a February 11 Elect Her–Campus Women Win training, the University of Cincinnati was poised to have more women students step up to the plate as student government leaders. Two Elect Her attendees, Maesa Idries, a senior chemical engineering major, and Mari Young, a freshman graphic communication design major, ran successful campaigns and will be making a difference on campus this fall. Idries will be the student body vice president of the Undergraduate Student Government, and Young will be a USG at-large senator. The two women took a moment to share their campaign experiences.

AAUW: Why did you decide to run for campus office?

Idries: I have been involved with student government for a couple of years, and I saw firsthand the positive impact that student representation can have on university operations.

Young: I wanted to get even more involved on campus through a student-led organization that allows me to reach out to people across campus. My goal is to help make this university the best it can be.

AAUW: What were some of your successful campaign strategies?

Idries: My running mate and I worked to be the most accessible candidates. In years past, candidates would run for office using a last name, so we ran using our first names. Our campaign slogan was “Students for Students.” We talked with many student organizations and made sure we were approachable at all times.

Young: Word of mouth is a very valuable campaign strategy. When you get yourself out there, meet different people, and make a lasting impression, they will remember your name and your mission. I believe this helps when it comes down to voting day.

AAUW: What do you hope to accomplish during your term?

Idries: All of our platform goals need to be accomplished during our term. These are the promises that we made to the student body, so we must be successful.

Young: I want to work on the student meal plan by offering healthier choices and more flexibility. I also want to make the student body better connected — upperclassmen to lowerclassmen and art students to engineering students. Everyone can benefit from a campus that works together.

AAUW: What are your goals after college?

Idries: I hope to attend graduate school.

Young: I plan on working for magazines doing graphic work and layouts. This is my dream, and I’m determined to make it happen.

AAUW: What advice would you give to other women students who are questioning whether they should run or not?

Idries: You can do it. You should do it. Find people to help you do it. You will be better for having done it. Do it. Do it. Do it.

Young: Go for it. What do you have to lose? Even if you don’t make the cut, you still gained an invaluable experience through campaigning. Just by running, you are a visible campus leader for being courageous enough to put yourself out there.

AAUW: Why do you think Elect Her—Campus Women Win is a valuable program for your campus?

Idries: It was valuable because it provided women on my campus with the confidence to run for office.

Young: Elect Her was so valuable because it showed us what strong-willed women are capable of. It was inspiring to hear the stories from women who have “been there, conquered that,” and to have them tell us we can do it too! With determination, anything can be done, and women need to know that. That is my philosophy now because of Elect Her.

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As a young child, I hated to read. I was terrible at it, and as a result, I lacked confidence in the classroom. I was lucky to have a teacher who gave me one-on-one attention each week. I will be forever grateful for how she changed my life and helped me believe in myself.

Bethany Rayl, an AAUW Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Awardee, was inspired by similar situations. Growing up, she saw how certain teachers engaged with students on a meaningful level. And later, as a teacher herself, she became acutely aware of the equity issues that are overlooked in schools. To help fight these problems, Rayl developed the Young Women’s Success Corpsat Bay City Central High School in Michigan, where she engaged young women in math, science, and technology activities. Rayl remembers that participants said, “Man, this is fun, I can do this. I can be a scientist.”

Rayl is also a global leader and educator. As a Gerstacker Fellow, she explored education in other countries. For a year, she and 11 other educators learned about global leadership from various perspectives, such as communication and finance. “As much as cultures are different, it was nice to see the similarity,” she said. She traveled to Shanghai, China, and Tokushima, Japan.

Rayl has worn many hats in the education field — as a teacher, in a variety of administration positions, and as the regional executive for the Widening Advancements for Youth (W-A-Y) Program. The organization personalizes education for disenfranchised youth through project-based education and is the only program in the United States that is partnered with the Inclusion Trust, a United Kingdom-based nonprofit whose efforts W-A-Y is replicatingto engage youth here in the states.

W-A-Y is unique in that it allows participants to connect both online and in person. Students can visit the website 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which means that they have access to a teacher at all times! The program equips each student with an online mentor and team leaders who assist in breaking down the barriers that students face at home and in school. In addition, content-area experts help co-create projects with the students based on their interests. For example, if a student is interested in basketball but needs to do a physics project, the content-area expert helps the student connect the two subjects. The program currently serves more than 100 districts in Michigan.

Rayl said that their goal is to eliminate the dropout crisis since “211 students drop out every day in Michigan, and nationally over a million drop out every day.” Perhaps you think that slashing the dropout rate to zero is a lofty goal, but Rayl is motivated and hopes to find solutions and focus on what is best for young people.

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

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“How many states do you think have 100 percent equal pay between women and men?”

This is one of three questions I asked while I tabled for six hours at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, for Equal Pay Day last week. Equipped with posters, pamphlets, and a variety of information on pay equity, I educated students — one chocolate coin at a time — about the pay gap.

I had a strategy to reel in students. I yelled, “Free chocolate!” and heads turned. Once students approached my table and started reaching for the shiny chocolate coins, I asked them, “Do you know what the pay gap is in Washington?”

They looked puzzled. Some asked for clarification, and everyone had a guess as to how much women make compared to men.

“Sixty cents?”

“Eighty-one cents?”

“Forty-seven cents?”

“Seventy-five cents?”

“Ninety cents?”

“It’s actually 77 cents!” I would reply. Some students were disappointed because their guesses were so close, and others were disappointed because they thought Washington women’s average wages would be higher. I gave them all chocolate.

“Do you want more chocolate?” I asked. Everyone did.

“How many states do not have a pay gap at all?” This stumped everyone. I heard answers anywhere between one and 10. Some replied with specific states: Oregon, Colorado, Idaho. When I told them that the answer was zero, they all looked shocked.

More chocolate.

“OK, final question: Why is Equal Pay Day today?” No one responded. Some thought for a little while, but no one could come up with an answer. “This is the date the average women would have to work until to make the same amount of money men made in 2011. So when men work for 12 months, women have to work 16 to make the same amount.” That was probably the most shocking to the passing students.

“Wow, that really sucks.”

“Are you serious?”

“No way!”

To improve their spirits, I gave them more chocolate.

This was my routine: question, answer, chocolate. I was surprised by the varying opinions. While some thought that women made less than half what men do, others felt that the pay gap was a thing of the past. My generation seems confused about equal pay for equal work, at least the people whom I informally surveyed with chocolate incentives.

Pay equity is an issue that I feel all college students should be concerned about. We are not far from a time when we will need to find jobs and be financially independent. We should be concerned that half of the population is still not making the same amount in wages as the other half.

On Equal Pay Day, April 17, we succeeded in making the issue of equal pay move from a national public policy issue to something personal to the students. Awareness is the first step toward change.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Katie Donahoe.

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This post is part of a new series on sexual harassment in school, launched in conjunction with the upcoming AAUW report Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment at School. Follow @AAUWResearch on Twitter for more information. 

You may have heard the rumors running amok about a 14-year-old girl who was taped performing oral sex on a male classmate (her supposed boyfriend) while another male student looked on. The male student posted the video on the Internet, and it went viral on Facebook and YouTube. Despite the fact that it’s technically child pornography, the video was not removed from the sites for four days.

While many of the details of the story have not been confirmed (for example, we don’t know what her real name is or if the sex was consensual), one thing is for sure. The girl in question has faced overwhelming criticism and harassment for the video and even changed schools as a result, while the boys have managed to escape notoriety despite the fact that they were not only willing participants but also recorded and posted the video. As Latoya Peterson of Racialicious writes, “Folks have been largely silent on the role of boys and men in all this. … Is anyone concerned that the things these boys learned, either explicitly from their peers or implicitly from society … may have branded them as sexual offenders for the rest of their days?”

Peterson has a point; while most people are asking how the young women could have “made such a mistake,” few people are asking how the boys learned that this was an acceptable way to treat her in the first place.

There is no easy answer to this question. How we learn to treat people is influenced by a number of factors. But with the story breaking just around Halloween time, when countless “sexy” costumes are marketed and sold to women and girls, I am reminded of the messages that young girls receive on a regular basis that present narrow ideas about how women should behave and exist as sexual beings.

As Spark blogger Ness Fraser puts it, “These messages tell young girls that the most important thing to be in life is sexy, desirable, and for lack of a better term, f—able — no matter what age you are or how inappropriate that might be. [The young woman], presumably, has been exposed to these messages, like the rest of us, for years.”

But girls aren’t the only ones who consume these messages. Boys do too, boys like the ones who taped this girl and posted the video. Just as the media may influence how girls behave as sexual beings, sexualized and objectifying images can shape young men’s perceptions and expectations of women. It would be no surprise then that young boys may feel they are entitled to women’s bodies or that it is OK to sexually exploit women.

We can’t know for sure what exactly compelled these boys to do what they did, nor can we know for sure whether the girl’s actions were motivated by a genuine sexual desire or not. But we have to ask ourselves what this situation would look like if the media presented positive images of women and images of respectful men.

This post was written by AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund Intern Julie Smolinski.

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