5 Ways You Can Take Action for Gender Equity
It has been a watershed year for women and gender equity. Through programming, research, and advocacy, we pushed for equal educational opportunities, equal pay for equal work, and workplaces free of discrimination. It is work that we have been doing for over 136 years and work we will continue to do until all women and girls enjoy equity in schools and workplaces.
Look at what we’ve accomplished together over the past year and learn what you can do to keep up the momentum in the fight for equity.
Over the past year, AAUW members came together to remind elected officials at every level of government that “women’s rights are human rights.” Our members and supporters weighed in on at least 325 state bills and submitted more than 10,000 comments to the U.S. Department of Education in support of strengthening and protecting Title IX. Our supporters sent over 270,000 messages to lawmakers through our AAUW Action Network. These efforts paid off: in 2017, 42 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico introduced equal pay bills, and five states and Puerto Rico passed new equal pay laws.
The gender pay gap is dominating headlines, from Hollywood to the corporate world. One way we’re taking action is by providing solutions for working women. In 2017 we trained more than 17,000 people to negotiate their salaries through 600 AAUW Work Smart and AAUW Start Smart workshops hosted across 45 states. More than 90 percent of participants rated the workshops highly, and 100 percent of participants said they would likely put the concepts and strategies they learned into action. We are setting our ambitions high — we plan to train 20,000 women by 2020 in San Francisco alone through a new partnership launched in December 2017. There’s still more to be done to help close the gender pay gap, and we intend to keep working until that goal is achieved.
We are proud to serve as one of the world’s leading supporters of graduate women’s education. This past year, we awarded $3.7 million in funding to our 2017–18 fellows and grantees, who compose our 129th class of distinguished alumnae. These 250 recipients represent diverse backgrounds, locations, and areas of study but have one thing in common: They all aim to promote equity for women and girls. Recipients join the ranks of past awardees including Nobel Prize-winning scientist Marie Curie, journalist Melissa Harris-Perry, Ph.D., and astronaut Judith Resnik, Ph.D., to name a few. We also celebrated 100 years of awarding International Fellowships to more than 3,600 women representing more than 140 countries. Our funding and grants change lives, and our alumna change the world.
It is imperative that we close the gender leadership gap, and our programming and advocacy is helping do just that. In 2017 we hosted our first EmpoWer event, a professional development event that enabled women to network and gain valuable career skills. Our student organizations also expanded: We approved 41 new AAUW student organizations last year and awarded Campus Action Project grants for activism projects in the spring of 2017. The National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) equipped an additional 800 students from around the world with the skills they need to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Since AAUW’s founding in 1881 we’ve been opening doors for women and girls in STEM. Through our hands-on STEMpacks, member-run community programs, innovative research, and meaningful advocacy, we’ve helped many women unleash their potential and achieve great things. Our new Playbook on Best Practices: Gender Equity in Tech offers strategies and actions to increase the representation of women in engineering and computing fields. A product of a partnership between AAUW and Dell, the Playbook equips advocates and employers with actions and strategies to promote gender equity in tech.
We have had many victories over the past year, but more importantly we’ve laid the framework for vital work to come. We’re working more diligently and with more focus than ever to increase educational access, promote leadership, and improve economic security for women and girls everywhere. Help us protect the advances we’ve made so far and ready ourselves for the work to come.
To create real change, women must be part of the conversation, and the most powerful place for us to chime in is at the polls.
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