Posts Tagged ‘University of California’

“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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Last week, the University of California and former UC Davis female student wrestlers Arezou Mansourian, Christine Ng, and Lauren Mancuso announced that they had reached an agreement to settle their lawsuit against the university. The plaintiffs originally filed suit in 2003, and in August 2011, the U.S. District Court for Eastern California found that the university violated Title IX by not sufficiently expanding intercollegiate athletic opportunities for female students at UC Davis between 1998 and 2005, the years that the plaintiffs were in attendance, and found the university solely responsible for this violation. The court was to begin assessing damages in March 2012, but the parties chose instead to resolve all remaining issues, including any possible appeals, with payment by the university of $1.35 million to the plaintiffs’ counsel for attorneys’ fees and costs incurred during the lengthy case. The AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund supported the plaintiffs in this case and commends the $1.35 million settlement in their favor.

Dear AAUW members and supporters:

As we celebrate a great settlement that resolves Mansourian v. Regents of the University of California, we wanted to extend our heartfelt thanks for the tremendous support of AAUW and its members throughout the country for our efforts to enforce Title IX. Three brave young women, Arezou Mansourian, Christine Ng, and Lauren Mancuso, filed suit in 2003 demanding equal athletic opportunities for women after the university eliminated women’s opportunities in wrestling and dozens more in other women’s sports. While the case continued long after their graduations, Plaintiffs racked up a series of victories for Title IX, including a landmark win at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which rejected the imposition of procedural hurdles to Title IX suits challenging athletic participation inequities and a decision following a three-week bench trial finding the University in violation for Title IX. Settlement of a spin-off class case prompted improvement in the athletic participation ratios of female students at UC Davis and has funded to date the award of over $70,000 in grants to developing female athletes on campus by the Women In Sports Equity (WISE) Fund. Yesterday, we announced the settlement of the case, with a payment by the University of $1,350,000 to resolve our clients’ claims.

The case simply could not have happened without AAUW’s support. The legal team – Equal Rights Advocates, Equity Legal, and The Sturdevant Law Firm – are a non-profit and small firms with very limited resources. We could not have litigated this fight to victory without the fiscal support of AAUW and the moral support of its members. AAUW members attended every day of our three-week trial in Sacramento last May and June. They brought us food and were a constant friendly face on even the toughest of days. This case has been embraced at countless AAUW conventions and events across the country. During this long battle, AAUW had our back and we will continue have yours. Equal Rights Advocates will continue its work to ensure equity for women and girls – in the classroom, on the playing fields and at our workplaces. We look forward to many more years of collaborating with the AAUW on cases and programs that empower women and girls. On behalf of Equal Rights Advocates, our clients and co-counsel, I thank you all.

Noreen Farrell
Interim Executive Director
Equal Rights Advocates

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CBS News turned to AAUW member Marie Wolbach, founder of AAUW of California’s Tech Trek Science Camp for Girls, for an insider’s perspective on getting girls engaged in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. This is an important topic that has been in the news again recently since three girls won the Google Science Fair.

Marie Wolbach, AAUW member since 1976 and NGCP liaison since 2005, appears in a CBS News segment on Tech Trek and girls in STEM.

Tech Trek got its start 13 years ago when Wolbach applied for a Community Action Grant from AAUW to open a science camp for girls on the Stanford University campus in the summer of 1998. Now Tech Trek camps are hosted on a number of campuses throughout the state and are regularly attended by over 800 girls a year.

The girls who attend the camps are each nominated by a math or science teacher and come from diverse backgrounds, reflecting California’s demographics. Many of them come from homes where English is not the primary language and have parents who did not attend college. The girls live on a college campus for a week and get a taste of what it is like to be a student and the excitement of pursuing a dream. They not only get a chance to perform hands-on experiments, they also work with girls from previous camps who come back as counselors and meet real-life female role models in STEM fields, many of them former campers and great examples of what a girl can do when she is given the right tools.

CBS contacted Wolbach and went to film parts of the segment at the Tech Trek camps at the University of California, Irvine, and Stanford. With all her experience, institutional knowledge, and involvement, Wolbach was a fantastic representative to interview, and her comments were included in the final segment that aired on the CBS Evening News.

AAUW members are doing amazing things, and it was phenomenal to have such a spotlight shone on Tech Trek and Wolbach’s story. Wolbach and her fellow volunteers celebrated additional good news this year when Tech Trek was honored as a finalist for the Breaking through Barriers Awards, which were announced at the 2011 AAUW National Convention.

AAUW supports opportunities for women and girls in STEM fields in many ways. Our most recent research report, Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, continues to make the news, and in an effort to support local programming around girls in STEM, AAUW has been a partner in the National Girls Collaborative Project for the last five years.

The NGCP website has a searchable program directory with more than 2,200 different programs for girls in math and science run by various organizations, companies, and school systems, including over 80 programs from AAUW members and branches. These are only some ways that AAUW is promoting STEM — find us on Facebook and Twitter under AAUW STEM and make sure to tell us about STEM programs in your area.

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Yesterday marked the first day of a three-week trial for the AAUW-supported lawsuit Mansourian v. Regents of the University of California.

In this case, Arezou Mansourian, Lauren Mancuso, Nancy Chiang, and Christine Ng — former students at the University of California, Davis, and former members of the university’s wrestling team — alleged sex discrimination in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 after they were allegedly cut from the wrestling team for no reason. For nearly a decade, their case has gone through different courts to decide whether or not there was sufficient notice of the discrimination, not on whether or not discrimination occurred. In February 2010, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the matter for trial and reinstated the plaintiffs’ equal protection claims against the individual defendants. The full case background is available on the AAUW website.

The trial is being held in federal court in Sacramento, California, and it is expected to last three weeks. AAUW has supported the case since 2005 by providing financial support to help offset legal fees and by signing an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in 2009.

Left to right: Arezou Mansourian, Christine Ng and Lauren Mancuso

About a dozen AAUW members attended the first day of the trial, and many plan to continue to show up in court to offer their moral support. Members present yesterday included Gloria Taylor, AAUW of California co-president; Lorelei Self, the state AAUW Funds director; Alicia Hetman, AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund committee member and liaison to the national board of directors; Carol Holzgrafe, president of the AAUW Chico (CA) Branch and co-coordinator of the Tech Trek Science and Math Camp for Girls; and several members of the AAUW Stockton (CA) Branch.

While there, the AAUW members spoke with three of the plaintiffs, and Holzgrafe noted that the young women and their families said over and over again how grateful they are for AAUW’s support.

Equal Rights Advocates, one of the legal groups representing the plaintiffs, is live tweeting during the trial, so follow them on Twitter, @EqualRightsAdv, to receive timely updates.

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Linda Neuhauser, a 1986–87 AAUW American fellow, is currently serving as clinical professor in the Division of Community Health and Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also a co-principal investigator at the Health Research for Action center. In 1989 Linda helped found the center — then called the Center for Community Wellness — drawing on her understanding of the importance of research and communication in public health initiatives.

Linda Neuhauser 1986

Linda Neuhauser interviewing an emergency food recipient at the Alameda Emergency Food Bank in California in 1986.

As a doctoral student at Berkeley, Linda did research in California soup kitchens as part of a study on food insecurity and hunger in the local area. She enjoyed “meeting the people there, having lunch with them, and learning about their lives.” The AAUW fellowship she received was one of the only sources of funding available for studying hunger problems. “It came at a very important time when I needed funding to complete my doctoral research,” said Linda.

After earning her doctorate, Linda worked as a health officer with the United States Agency for International Development in Mauritania and other West Africa countries. “When I went to work in Africa, it was clear that communication problems were the root of many failures of health programs,” explained Linda. In Mauritania practitioners had been developing vaccination programs for 20 years, and still large numbers of children were dying from preventable diseases. By working with her African colleagues, Linda helped identify complex technical, social, organizational, and economic barriers. “After two years of grassroots work with communities and at all levels of the health system, we succeeded. The new vaccination program effectively reached 85 percent of children in that country.” Linda said that, in all public health situations, working closely with beneficiaries increases program effectiveness.

Linda Neuhauser

Linda Neuhauser

Linda is now applying those lessons at the Health Research for Action center, “a hybrid organization that links researchers, interventionists, government, and policy people and that connects the university more directly with communities, government and the private sector.” One of the center’s most successful projects — developed with input from parents, health care providers, government staff, media, and others — is a kit that provides “operating instructions” for new parents to 500,000 families in California each year.

Linda’s deeper understanding of community, which started with her dissertation work, has had a great influence on her students in the Berkeley public health program. As a result, some of them are now developing strategies to improve emergency preparedness for groups affected by Hurricane Katrina and working with the Mexican government to provide better HIV/AIDS programming.

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0814_2For Casandra Rauser, 2004–05 American Fellow, life is all about the adventure. In 1996, after her second year at a small liberal arts college in Minnesota, she went on a class trip to Costa Rica to study sustainable ecotourism. At the end of the trip, she waved goodbye to her classmates instead of the country. Although Casandra had always been interested in science, the trip tapped into her desire to explore the field more. She left her school in Minnesota and headed to the University of Arizona, which offered a stronger science program and more research opportunities, to complete her undergraduate degree.

0814_1After earning her bachelor’s of science degree, Casandra moved to California to do doctoral research in evolutionary biology at the University of California, Irvine. The AAUW fellowship allowed her to focus on her research and “eased the pain of grad school,” confessed Casandra. After defending her dissertation, Casandra headed back to Costa Rica for four years.

In the international village of Tamarindo, Casandra worked in a surf shop and a preschool before landing a position with a local nature preserve. Although not directly related to evolutionary biology, these first jobs taught her invaluable life skills. While working at the conservancy, Casandra and a colleague developed an environmental education program for the local Costa Rican schools.

Casandra is most proud of the recycling program she helped to establish in Tamarindo. Each month the program set up a recycling center on the beach in the village and collected about a ton of materials. “I almost couldn’t leave Costa Rica because of recycling,” said Casandra. “To start a project and see it through to some level of success, especially a project that was good for the environment and for the society, was very rewarding.”


Image by Bruno Dubreuil Photography © 2008

One key to the success of the recycling project was that it enlisted the help of local sponsors. An environmentally conscious surf group agreed to host a beach cleanup event each recycling day. Another group held a fashion show to raise awareness about recycling in a culture where throwing trash around is commonplace. What started out as a small idea turned into a large event with two international fashion designers, professional models, and far-flung press coverage.


Image by Bruno Dubreuil Photography © 2008

These days, Casandra is back at the University of California working as a research development officer, a position in which she is able to apply many skills she learned through her work in Costa Rica. “Costa Rica was a fantastic growing experience. Now I’m in the perfect place. I love my job!”

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