Title IX and CookiesSeptember 18, 2008
O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A … Rogers and Hammerstein may still be responsible for us bursting out in song about this state, but my visit to Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the annual Career and Technical Education Equity Council (CTEEC) conference didn’t include any dancing or cowboy hats. But it did include a chance to speak with dozens of career and technical educators and meet with our own great AAUW of Oklahoma leaders.
At the conference, I had the opportunity to present a legislative update with Mimi Lufkin of the National Alliance for Partners in Equity on Title IX and run a workshop called “Woman’s Employment: Choice or Discrimination?” The workshop challenged the audience to look at Title IX and think about where we are and where we want to go with woman’s education and employment opportunities, particularly relating to women in nontraditional fields.
Comments from the participants reflected how difficult it remains for women in nontraditional fields, especially when they look for jobs. For example, one teacher spoke about the challenges female students face trying to find work as auto mechanics or electricians in Oklahoma. During the discussion it was evident that the women have great passion and a pioneer mentality about their fields, which help them stay despite obstacles.
The CTEEC conference also featured presentations by Faye Henson, AAUW of Oklahoma co-president, on AAUW’s Pay Equity Project and Financial Literacy for Equity. Using AAUW’s mission and resources, Faye engaged the participants as individuals and educators about ways to seek justice and make change for their students and community.
Faye gave the participants cookies that had a bite taken out of them to represent the bite taken out of their paycheck from the pay gap. Everyone enjoyed the cookies but felt the disappointment and injustice knowing that they did not receive the full cookie they deserved.
(Also, kudos to the other AAUW of Oklahoma welcome committee members, including Co-President Rose Unterschuetz, President AAUW Tulsa (OK) Branch Linda Brooks, AAUW of Oklahoma Treasurer Gabrille Jones, and Faye’s husband, Harry, for sharing a fun Tulsa dinner with me).
I hope that the next generation of girls will face better educational and career opportunities and rewards — and if they do, it will be in large part because of the efforts of people like those at the conference. Personally, I took an architectural drawing class in high school and being the only female in the class affected me. If you are someone in a nontraditional field, what have been your educational and/or work experiences?