Nancy Pelosi Rallies Texas Women at AAUW Event
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) received a Texas-sized welcome Monday from AAUW members and friends in the Lone Star State. Pelosi spoke in Austin about a new economic agenda for women that advocates policies promoting equal pay for equal work, work and family balance, and access to affordable child care.
More than 150 people attended the event hosted by AAUW of Texas, the AAUW Austin (TX) Branch, and the AAUW Georgetown (TX) Branch. The event was held on Women’s Equality Day, which celebrates the ratification of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote. Both the city of Austin and the governor’s office issued proclamations recognizing Women’s Equality Day, and Austin Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole spoke at the event.
Texas women have faced some setbacks recently — the Legislature passed a restrictive abortion bill in a second special session that has since been signed by Gov. Rick Perry, and Perry also recently vetoed equal pay legislation. AAUW members were in the middle of the fight on both issues, so Pelosi’s visit came at the perfect time.
“It’s going to give us a shot in the arm,” Best said.
The crowd applauded Pelosi’s agenda — When Women Succeed, America Succeeds — and the help it could provide for women and families.
“We’re focused on the equal pay, the paid medical leave, and the child-care aspects of the difference that we have to make,” Pelosi said. “We’ve already passed the Affordable Care Act. These are bills that we must pass, and I hope that we can do so with your support.”
The attendees also heard from AAUW Abilene (TX) Branch member Dianne Morphew, who shared her personal story of pay inequity. Morphew said that when she was about to leave her job at a Fortune 500 oil and gas company, a man she had trained was being considered to replace her.
In a conversation with Morphew, the man expressed concerns about the salary the company had offered him. His offer was 50 percent more than she had been making.
“I don’t know how to tell you how shocked I was,” Morphew said. “I felt like I’d been slapped in the face, and my world had dropped out from under me.”
Not only did Morphew share her story during the event, but she also got one-on-one time with Pelosi afterward.
“It’s cathartic to be able to talk about it and to have them hear and understand,” Morphew said.
AAUW 2013–14 American Fellow Allison White, a doctoral student at the University of Texas, said the event made her feel encouraged about the future of pay equity.
“Knowing that at some point I might have an equal paycheck to a man means a lot to me,” White said. “I put in the same amount of work.”
Members of the audience asked what they could do to help the women’s economic agenda move forward and to help with congressional gridlock. Pelosi urged those in attendance to create an environment where more women are in politics through encouraging and asking them to run.
Also during the event, held at Austin Community College’s Eastview Campus, Pelosi commended AAUW’s latest research report, Women in Community Colleges: Access to Success, and recognized the work of students at community colleges.
Pelosi has been traveling across the country in support of the women’s economic agenda. She was in Massachusetts last week, and AAUW President Patricia Fae Ho spoke at the event. Pelosi also chatted with AAUW members in Connecticut about the agenda.