2021 Year in Review

Remarkable and Resilient

“This past year has shown us how resilient we are as an organization and a nation. When the pandemic shut down AAUW National’s office in 2020, none of us could imagine we’d still be dealing with this crisis more than two years later. But what’s truly remarkable is how readily we adapted to new ways of work and life—and how we not only advanced our mission, but grew it, with creativity and tenacity. We piloted new programs, forged partnerships, funded a record number of women scholars and developed important and impactful research. At a time when our democracy was under threat, we used our powerful voice to advocate for gender and racial equity and to fight for the rights of all women and girls. Now, as we celebrate our 140th anniversary and I take the helm as CEO, I can proudly report that AAUW is as vibrant and relevant as ever—and I look forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead in 2022 and beyond.”

Gloria L. Blackwell

Celebrating 140 Years and Looking Ahead

This November, AAUW celebrated our 140th anniversary. Over the past 14 decades, AAUW has evolved to become the leading voice in advancing gender equity in education and workplaces everywhere. Through researcheducation and advocacy, we’re committed to ensuring that everyone gets the same opportunity to learn, earn and lead. Our programs aim at moving women forward—and we fight for policies that support our goals.


A Year of Outreach

  • In the second year of the pandemic, AAUW continued to grow its online programs. We hosted more than 25 webinars for both AAUW members and the Equity Network learning community.
  • AAUW’s Start Smart and Work Smart salary negotiation trainings continued to be AAUW’s most sought-after programs, reaching more than 188,000 participants to date.
  • We also piloted a new financial literacy program, Money Smart, to provide women at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Women’s Colleges and Minority Serving Institutions with comprehensive tools and resources for personal money management.
  • We continued our work with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs), thanks to a generous grant from The Coca-Cola Foundation. A total of 32 minority-serving colleges, including 21 HBCUs, 10 women’s colleges and one MSI, now offer AAUW’s Start Smart training, bringing the number of colleges and universities hosting the program to 145.
  • We held AAUW’s annual National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) virtually for the first time in May, reaching 900 aspiring leaders from over 300 campuses nationwide.
  • AAUW launched STEMEd for Girls, a pilot virtual program reaching 600 teenagers and 315 caregivers, to encourage high school girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
Public Policy

A Year of Action

  • AAUW’s Two-Minute Activists sent 68,271 letters to elected officials calling for action on AAUW priorities such as paycheck fairness, paid leave, reproductive rights, student loan forgiveness and more. All five of the top bills passed the House of Representatives in 2021.
  • We continued the work of AAUW’s Legal Advocacy Fund (LAF), which provides resources to brave plaintiffs seeking legal redress against pay inequity other forms of sex discrimination. We supported five active cases in 2021 and awarded two new LAF grants to support law-school clinical programs.
  • AAUW launched the Equal Pay Every Day roundtable series to spur conversations and solutions around pay equity in the workplace among employees, managers and senior leaders in the New York metropolitan region.
Fellowships & Grants

A Year of Learning

  • More than 260 recipients received nearly $5 million in AAUW fellowships and grants for the 2021–22 academic year. The funding aims to advance educational and professional opportunities for women in the United States and around the globe.
  • AAUW is one of the world’s leading supporters of graduate women’s education. Since 1888, it has awarded more than $130 million in fellowships, grants and awards to 13,000 recipients from 145 countries. Candidates are selected on the basis of scholarly excellence, quality and originality of project design and active commitment to helping women and girls through service in their communities, professions or fields of research.
  • As part of the celebration for AAUW’s 140th anniversary, we awarded the Alumnae Recognition Award to Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization and one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2021.

A Year of Discovery

  • Systemic Racism and the Pay Gap, a supplement to AAUW’s report The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, outlines how the wage gap is the result of centuries of intentional structural economic inequalities, exploitation, segregation and implicit bias. This history has created systems that funnel women—especially women of color—into lower paying occupations and undervalue the work of women across sectors.
  • Factory Flaw: The Attrition and Retention of Women in Manufacturing, made possible through a grant from The Arconic Foundation, explores the dearth of women in well-paying jobs in manufacturing and outlines ways employers and policymakers can recruit, retain and advance women in this field.
  • The Power Gap Among Top Earners at America’s Elite Universities, a research collaboration between AAUW and the Eos Foundation, examines women’s leadership among the country’s 130 research universities. It reveals that few women are among the highest paid professionals at each school. A second report, scheduled for 2022, will examine the dearth of women and women of color in academic leadership roles at these institutions.
  • Pandemic Inequity: Latinas and the COVID-19 Experiencepart of AAUW’s Latina Policy Initiative, assesses the economic and health impact of COVID-19 on Latinas, particularly those who are essential workers and in low-wage occupations.