What AAUW Stands For

April 08, 2014

Editor’s note: AAUW member and Community Action Grantee Jan Mitchell shared this post with us in response to our member and volunteer appreciation week.

AAUW member Jan Mitchell

Jan Mitchell

We as individuals give energy to AAUW, and we gain in multiple ways. Here are my thoughts on what AAUW means.


I remember attending a guest night for new teachers at an AAUW meeting in September 1966, my first year of teaching in Estherville, Iowa. As a young teacher, I remember feeling awed to be among so many college-degreed women (remember that was 1966!) and especially impressed that the school superintendent’s wife sat and chatted with me about empowering women. Access to women who are passionate about AAUW’s mission has made me feel connected to strong women of the past century, as well as many of you who continue to work to advance equity for women.


There are some who suggest that women have it all, that there are no more issues to work toward; but then I hear Lily Ledbetter’s name mentioned or I see the latest evidence of the wage gap between women and men, and I realize we have work to do. At all levels, AAUW gives us the opportunity to advocate for women.

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AAUW membership.

AAUW Membership staff

AAUW of Iowa members from across my state — from Council Bluffs to Davenport — recently met in Des Moines for a lobby day at the state Capitol to discuss proposed legislation with policy makers and advocate for positions that align with AAUW’s Public Policy Priorities. On the local level, as so many AAUW of Iowa members know, there are opportunities for advocacy, too, including participation in public forums, letter-writing campaigns, and one-on-one conversations.

Unlimited Applause for Women’s Achievements

Celebrating the accomplishments of one woman is a way of celebrating all women and expanding possibilities for ourselves. I think of the many community events hosted by local branches who want to applaud women — a panel of women leaders talking about their choices, challenges, and successes; a cemetery walking tour (which one branch did as a May meeting) to hear stories about important women of the past; the book discussions featuring strong women protagonists from AAUW’s ¡Adelante! Book of the Month Club; and the ways branches continually support and celebrate a community woman’s accomplishments.

Widening Our Reach to Women and Girls

When we are empowered, we see new ways to nurture younger women to make decisions and discover new paths toward a future that will match their strengths. Many branches recognize talented girls, offer STEM camp support, or connect women and girls with mentors. A few Iowa branches are involved in Latinas al Éxito, a project that started at AAUW of Iowa with support from an AAUW Community Action Grant and is now a nonprofit that empowers Latinas in Iowa schools.

Forty-eight years of membership have exposed me to strong and interesting women and even provided paths to discover latent strengths within me. To me, AAUW has never been just a club.

See what members like Jan love about AAUW.

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AAUWguest By:   |   April 08, 2014

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