Tuesday, October 30, 2007

AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund

On Saturday, October 27, the people attending the NYS AAUW District III meeting in Ithaca, New York were privileged to hear J. Anthony Gaenslen, the Attorney for the Cornell Eleven. The Cornell Eleven were supported by members of the Ithaca branch. Their efforts helped in establishing a Legal Advocacy Fund (LAF) as part of the American Association of University Women. LAF was first a pilot progran (in 1981) and two years later became a permanent fund of the Association. The Legal Advocacy Fund is now part of the AAUW Educational Foundation.
The Legal Advocacy Fund is the nations largest legal fund that is devoted to helping fight sex discrimination in higher education. Since its inception in 1981 the fund has provided more that $1.3 million to over 100 cases. The fund provides financial assistance and outreach for their cases. For more information on LAF go to the American Association of University Women website (aauw.org then go to the ADVOCACY tab and then to Legal Advocacy).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Local Programs - NYC

There are some exciting programs coming up in the NYC area. Anyone interested can call the Branch House at 212-684-6068.

Public Policy/Voter Education Event and Ethnic Dinner (gratis): Tuesday, November 20, 2007, 7 p.m. (branch house). We will be featuring a presentation on “Political Equality and Voter Education for Women” by Dr. Nemata Eshun-Baiden, 2007 Madeline K. Albright Award Honoree, Founder and first President of the Fifty-Fifty group and the first female President of the Rotary Club in Sierra-Leone.

Our Third Annual Martin Luther King (MLK) Day Celebrations co-sponsored with the New York City League of Women Voters: MLK Day, Monday, January 21, 2007, 2pm (branch house). This promises to be an exciting public policy/voter education/voter registration/Get out the vote event. This special event will feature some of the political candidates or their representatives running for office in the upcoming elections.

International Issues, Grants and Fellowships

Three urgent issues:

A short story contest on the effect of education in your life is part of AAUW's new partnership with Care. Due date is November 15. For details go to the International Corner on the AAUW website.

Second, AAUW has a number of international programs which support women and education. For details go again to the International Corner on the AAUW website.

Now is the time to apply for AAUW educational grants and fellowships. Applications are due by November 15. Most awards are for women doing advanced study but awards for community action and career development grants are also made. Details are available in the EF section of the AAUW website.

Diane Haney

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pay Equity

Too many times lately I've heard from working women, "Pay equity, that's not an issue for me. It couldn't happen at my workplace." Do they know that pay equity is not an issue at their workplace? Do they have information to back up their statement? The answer to both of these questions is no.

Unfortunately, facts and figures show that pay inequity between men and women does exist. It starts as early as the first year out of college and continues. A research report, Behind the Pay Gap, was put out by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation in April of this year. The report states that one year out of college, women working full time, earn less than their male colleagues. The pay gap continues to widen as the years go on. Don't let this happen to you. Become informed.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

NYC Branch Exhibits Lynn Vergano's Oriental Paintings

The AAUW NYC branch held an exhibit of Lynn Vergano’s Oriental paintings for the Benefit of the Explore Your Opportunities – The Sky’s the Limit, a conference to encourage girls to take courses in math, science and technology.

Lyn Vergano’s delicate brush paintings are a perfect example of a wedding of form and meaning. She studied at Pratt Institute and graduated with a master’s degree from New York University. Her first paintings were in the classic Western tradition. The simplicity and discipline of oriental brush work attracted her. She began to study the techniques, to learn from the masters, and to experiment on her own. As time went on, her technique evolved and sharpened and her paintings revealed a blending of nature and art and philosophy. Now she brings her own unique vision to the classic subjects of a traditional art form. Many of her paintings are of the familiar models of oriental art: birds, flowers, trees, boats, waterfalls. She has brought her own unique vision to these simple images. Her paintings are a fusion of an ancient oriental art form with a modern Western sensibility.

Poughkeepsie Branch Shows the Movie Shame at Vassar Film Theater

The Poughkeepsie Branch of AAUW showed the film Shame at the Vassar College’s film theater. The editor of the film is Niharika Desai, daughter of member Geeta Desai. The film was directed by Mohammed Naqvi.

Shame is the inspiring story of a real-life heroine of our time. The documentary relates the story of Mukhtaran Mai, a Pakistani village woman who, in 2002, was publicly gang raped to atone for a crime her brother allegedly committed. This uneducated woman raised an outcry that became an international cause with wide-reaching consequences. A powerful village tribe learns that Mukhtaran’s 12 year old brother is having an affair with one of its girls. He is accused of rape, beaten up and raped himself. His sister’s honor is demanded as reparation. The 30 year old Mukhtaran is handed over by her father and uncle to the tribe, who abuse her as the whole village watches. Instead of committing suicide, as she is expected to do, the young veiled woman insists on reporting her rape to the police many miles away. Eventually her tormentors are arrested and put on trial. Defying all expectation, Mukhtaran opens the first schools for children in her village and enrolls herself. Pakistani officialdom gets cold feet when she is invited to conferences abroad.

Over 200 members of AAUW, the community and Vassar faculty and students attended the film showing.

AAUW Districts Hold Fall Conferences

The first two fall district conferences were held on Saturday, October 13.

District I met at Chautauqua Institution at the Hultquist Center. The topic for the meeting was “Vote 18” and “Navigating the AAUW Website.”

District V meeting was held at the AAUW NYC branch house. Nancy Mion talked about Women in Government and Peggy Kelland gave a Conflict Resolution workshop. Gail Nordmoe, AAUW Executive Vice President/Secretary encouraged us to be joyful and calm.

District IV met at the Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa in Saratoga Springs last Saturday, October 20. May Safar from the Schenectady Branch spoke about the plight of Iraqi Women, Betsy Forkas talked about Women to Women and Voter Turnout, and Peggy Kelland presented a workshop on Women as Peacemakers.

District VI met at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue on October 20. The topic for the meeting was “What Every Woman Wants – Equity, Beyond the Pay Gap.”

Catherine Moore will speak on “Continuing the International Connection” at the District II meeting on October 27. Mildred DeWitt, Marilynn Smiley and Helen Engel will help District III celebrate the 25th anniversary of LAF at the Statler Hotel on the Cornell campus on the same day.

The last fall conference will be held on November 10 at Saranac Lake. Betsy Forkas and Lisa Maatz, the Association’s Public Policy Director , will speak on “What’s At Stake for Women in 2008?” and Eileen Hartmann will do a membership workshop.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

You Are the Important Ingredient

Last night our branch of the American Association of University Women held a Candidates Forum. It was unusual in that we asked candidates for our local county legislature to send us answers to six questions we asked relating to women’s economic security. The questions were related to local child care, pay equity and women’s educational issues. We felt that by not having to appear we would be able to present the thoughts from all the candidates from a Legislative District. The responses from all parties were supportive of meeting these needs.

Interestingly though, only half the candidates responded. Several came to give their answers in person. The candidates were contacted by people living in their Districts. Why did some answer and others not? We determined that the major factor was personal contact. One Legislator running for reelection indicated that establishing relationships with his constituents was important to him.

Your legislators are elected by you. They hold office because you vote for them. They want to be reelected themselves or to have their party’s candidates elected. They need to know what you think. Anyone can call at their offices or make an appointment to talk with them. How can they know what you want if you don’t tell them? You visit the doctor, the repair shop, etc. to live a better life. Why not add those you elect to the list. Their decisions affect you life too. You are the important ingredient in making the government reflect your beliefs. Vote and let your voice be heard in legislators’ offices the rest of the year.

Nancy Mion

Sunday, October 14, 2007


For the last four years our New York City and Westchester branch members have worked at creating a successful mission based project for girls, Expanding Your Horizons™. After much discussion by the planning board it was unanimously decided to change the name to be more in line with what we offer our young 7th grade girls. We are now
Our program focus will continue to provide opportunities for 7th grade girls to interact in workshops and with professional women in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Our conference this year will be on
Saturday, March 15, 2008 from 8:30-3:00 at Barnard College
For more information contact Lorrin Johnson at 212 854-2437 or eddlorrin@yahoo.com OR

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

New video!

View an inspiring video about AAUW that serves as a powerful reminder of why the organization is still necessary in today's world.
Members of diverse ages and backgrounds share why they felt compelled to join AAUW and why they feel other women should join. The video is six minutes long.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fair Play in the Workplace

I have been loosely following the Isiah Thomas trial and was very curious to see what the outcome would be.

While the case is not finalized yet (and the inevitable appeals haven't even begun) the jury has ruled that Thomas , the Knicks Coach harassed a former team executive and that Madison Square Garden fired her in retaliation for complaining.

What I found interesting about this case was the arena, if you'll pardon the pun, in which the harassment occurred - Madison Square Gardens and male professional sports.

Having worked in finance for a number of years I recognize that in certain fields there is a certain amount of harassment that most women just simply deal with as "a cost of doing business." Typically these are industries that remain sacred ground of sorts of and for men. Professional sports, the vast majority of which are male, would fall under this heading.

When a women steps up and cries foul - and a jury agrees with her - it makes me feel like the game isn't over yet.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

AAUW open houses

The New York City area (District V) has many branches. Now is the time for them to recruit new members by having Open Houses. In addition, open house lets new and old members know about the programs that are planned for the year. I went to my first open house last week at the near by Rockland Branch . President Joyce Brown had a list of great mission based activities and interest groups. During the meeting members got a chance to design ways to make these activities work.

Then this week I went to the new Manhattan Branch Open House. It was a small group but ready to take on the mission of AAUW. President Lisa Wilson along with the newly installed officers explained the their plans to have activities during the year. State President, Diane Haney gave the group a background of the history of AAUW and the types of programing that has been successful. The members are already beginning to raise funds for EF and LAF . They are off to a great start.

On Sunday, October 7, 2007 the New York City Branch will have their Open House. President, Maria Ellis along were her communication committee have invited not only all members but local MAL. There will be 8 tables with Committee Chairs and literature about their programming for this year. All are welcomed to the program at the Branch house -
111 East 37th Street. from 2-5. Hope to see you there.

As University and College director for the State I am on a mission to get more member colleges through these branches.