AAUW and Consciousness RaisingDecember 27, 2010
One of the most important effects of the women’s movement has been its role as a consciousness raiser. Social movements have been instrumental in questioning social norms and the status quo. AAUW has been on the forefront of issues that raise public consciousness and increase the level of debate.
There are many examples of this commitment to social justice in AAUW’s 2010 agenda. Our role in promoting the Paycheck Fairness Act and other pay equity issues has been an enormous contribution. Many people forget that women still make 23 percent less than men on average, across the broad spectrum of jobs. It is the support of these public policy measures that provides increased awareness regarding this vital human rights issue. And lower pay is also coupled with sexual harassment in many workplaces. The AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund helps female employees fight back against these injustices. It also makes people aware that issues of sex discrimination are far from over and have to be continually contested.
AAUW’s role does not stop at issues in the workplace. Street harassment is an issue that has received significant visibility in recent years. Holly Kearl, program manager for the AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund, has been at the forefront of this issue thanks to her excellent book, Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women. One of the most striking aspects of the book is the testimonials of women who have experienced objectification on the street. These examples raise people’s consciousness by treating this not as an academic problem but as an issue that affects women and girls on a regular basis — one that impacts their daily lives. The growth of a community of male allies is an encouraging testimony to men’s increased awareness of this issue and how both sexes can work together to combat this abuse.
AAUW has also raised the public’s awareness with our research on various issues. Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics provided the empirical support to highlight the gap of women and girls in some STEM fields, particularly in academic faculty positions. We have also tried to understand why there is such a lack of women in elected offices. Thanks to the Elect Her initiative, there is now an avenue for women to become involved in the political arena and to see themselves as leaders in their communities.
It is through all of these efforts and many more that AAUW increases awareness and raises public consciousness of gender discrimination and prejudice. The type of solidarity that comes from this awareness enables us to become fuller human beings and to challenge accepted norms and ideologies. Thank you to AAUW and other organizations like it!
This post was written by AAUW ally Sean Crosbie.