Saturday, March 29, 2008

Buffalo, NY Branch is Tech Savvy!

Tracy Sherman has posted this on the Association blog and I feel compelled to repeat it here since I was also there. Congratulations to chair Tamara Brown for a great event!

Girls and STEM Education
March 21, 2008, by tracysherman

Do you ever wonder what types of events other AAUW branches put on? This weekend I visited the AAUW Buffalo (NY) Branch for their third-annual Tech Savvy event. The day exposes sixth to ninth grade girls to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Although women make up more than 50 percent of the workforce, the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology states that women comprise only 25 percent of the science, engineering, and technology labor force. While discrimination, lack of encouragement, and outdated stereotypes all contribute to women not participating in STEM fields at the same rate as they do in the workforce, informal learning and hands-on experiences like Tech Savvy encourage girls to become the next generation of STEM professionals.

Throughout the day, more than 350 girls at Tech Savvy attended workshops where they learned about careers in dentistry, veterinary medicine, and nursing, as well as those with the FBI and NASA. While the girls were at these sessions, more than 200 parents learned about barriers girls face in these fields, how to encourage their daughters to enter these fields, legislation to diversify STEM fields, and how to prepare for college. The day closed with a keynote address by Camille Alleyne, an aerospace engineer at NASA and the founder and president of the Brightest Stars Foundation, an organization whose mission is to educate and empower young women to be future leaders in STEM. Hearing Camille’s life story of dreaming big and believing in herself inspired these girls to believe that they can — and will — be the next generation of scientists, engineers, computer scientists, and mathematicians.

AAUW supports legislation to encourage girls to enter STEM fields. Interested in doing a similar event in your community? Contact AAUW Buffalo for more information on their Tech Savvy program.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Creating a Level Playing Field for Women

At this year's convention there will be much information about creating a level playing field for women.

Lilly Ledbetter will be our keynote speaker on Friday night. She will share with us her experience fighting pay discrimination again Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Her fight went all the way to the Supreme Court and inspired the Ledbetter Fair Pay act which passed in the house this past year.

We will be hearing from Claire Schuster about her fight against sex discrimination at Berea College.

But AAUW member are not "poor us" thinkers. We are doers and we will be participating in empowering workshops including topics such as Grassroots Organizing; Finding Your Voice, Telling Your Story and Making Your Point; Health Care in the 21st Century and Diversity Issues. We will be networking with other "doers" from around New York State to learn how others are effecting change in their communities.

We will be hearing from Christianne Corbett, Research Associate at the American Association of University Women national office. One focus of Christi's research is the concept of the "boy's crisis," the subject of the latest Educational Foundation report Where the Girls Are, to be released in May, 2008

Non-members are welcome to come and share with us and learn from us. It's not too late to register. Visit our convention page to learn more and register today.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ode to Newspapers and READING

We just returned from a cruise. Yes, it was warm. Yes, it was relaxing. Yes, it was wonderful. Except. We ordinarily get two newspapers (one local, one national) every morning and pretty much read entirely through both of them. TV and radio news supplement, but are not our main source of information. Now imagine - two weeks cut off almost entirely from civilization as we know it. Yes, all newspapers are biased one way or another - nothing is completely objective. But they at least tell us what's going on in our home states and communities. We were certainly kept up-to-date on Britney's latest capers and who was going where in the NFL, but news??? Not much.

I've heard it said that newspapers will eventually be obsolete, that we'll get all our information from more easily digested media. I hate to think that that may be the truth. However, after a visit to the library this afternoon where a father with his two school-age sons (who should be reading!) checked out about 15 videos and books on tape (but no books!), I believe that the prophecy may come to be.

What can we do? As adults we should read. As parents we should encourage our children to read (and not just comic books although they do have their place). We should support our libraries and bookstores. If you can't afford new books, check out the used booksales held by many libraries and AAUW branches.

See you in print soon!

Friday, March 14, 2008

You & Your Doctor Should Decide Which Health Screeninga Are Right for You

Because it's National Women's History Month and March 8 was International Women's Day, I thought I'd highlight an article from the online National Women's Health Report in which Dr. Pamela Peeke stresses the importance of individualizing your health screening needs. She points out that screening tests and preventive efforts, while extremely important over one's lifetime, do have their limitations. She explains that many tests may be unnecessary and are usually expensive, citing a Consumer Reports survey of 300 primary care physicians where 34% said their patients "very frequently" or "quite often" requested unnecessary or duplicative medical tests. (However, the doctors themselves admitted that, as protection against malpractice suits, they often order unneeded tests.) She recommends sitting down with your health care professional and asking for a list of screenings you should receive, based on your own individual health history. Good health, everyone! JH

Thursday, March 13, 2008

National Issues Forum

Last Saturday, March 8, several other AAUW members and I joined with almost 200 local residents at Dutchess Community College to discuss "Americans' Role in the World: Building a More Secure Future". During the morning small groups of participants ranging from college students to retirees discussed the four proposed approaches: preserving and sharing global resources, seeking security through free trade, promoting democratization and human rights, and using military power to secure the peace.

The groups expressed concern for destruction of the environment, and felt that personal efforts could not solve the problems without major changes of public policy including investments in mass transportation. Globalization was seen as inevitable, but current free trade agreements did not create a level playing field. Subsidies to agribusiness persist, while labor, environmental, and product safety standards have been sacrificed. Many noted the decline in world respect and prestige of our country. Multilateral approaches to promoting democracy and human rights and to deterring aggression were preferred. They were felt to be less threatening to other countries, and more likely to be effective over the long run.

After lunch a panel of experts answered questions. Professor Lewis Brownstein of SUNY New Paltz discussed the history of American ambivalence towards promoting democracy abroad. Major Tania Chacho of the US Military Academy and Professor Steve Rock of Vassar College both warned of over-reliance on military power to the neglect of diplomacy. Professor Himadeep Muppidi of Vassar College said the building of a secure future requires understanding the interests of others and seeing people as they see themselves. John Yaukey of Gannett News Service urged participants to check out web sites when they fail to find information in the mainstream media.

The National Issues Forum, the eleventh held at the college, was sponsored by the "Poughkeepsie Journal", the Dutchess Community College Foundation, the Gillespie Forum, the Mid-Hudson World Affairs Council, and the Dutchess Community College Political Science Club.