A Year of Progress and PossibilitiesDecember 18, 2018
This will be remembered as a consequential year for women, and we are proud to be leading an organization committed to achieving gender equity at this pivotal moment in history.
The #MeToo movement that was kindled in late 2017 gathered greater force, as high-profile men faced professional — and sometimes criminal — consequences for sexual harassment, and people in workplaces everywhere became more aware of the importance of cultivating cultures of respect. Meanwhile, the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court in October raised new concerns about the future of a range of constitutional rights for women and girls.
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Through it all, women’s voices were heard loud and clear. We marched, we organized to action, we turned out to the polls in droves, and, importantly, we put ourselves on the ballot — and won. In the wake of November’s contentious midterm elections, women shattered records by earning more than 100 new Congressional seats and governorships. These diverse leaders’ perspectives have been left out of decision-making for far too long.
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Thanks to your support, AAUW had a banner year as well. And our wins will only add to the momentum that women and girls are realizing all over the country in what some have dubbed the second “Year of the Woman” (or, as one writer smartly adapted it, the “Year of the Women,” since we accomplished so much together).
At AAUW, we began 2018 by focusing our strategic vision on the three critical areas where we can make the biggest difference in gender equity: education and training, economic security, and leadership. Here are just a few of AAUW’s 2018 accomplishments:
- Thanks to the advocacy of AAUW and our coalition partners, 40 states and Washington, D.C., introduced or considered pay equity legislation — and six passed laws, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington.
- In Kansas City, AAUW joined Mayor Sly James and the Women’s Foundation to launch Work Smart in Kansas City, the first phase of a large-scale initiative to train one million women to negotiate for better salaries across Kansas and Missouri.
- We launched a free, online Work Smart course that can be taken in an hour by anyone, anywhere. The new tool is instrumental in our efforts to train 10 million women in salary negotiation by 2022 and close the pay gap by 2030.
- More than 800 young women came together to attend our National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, the premier leadership event for college women in the world. This year, activist and #MeToo founder Tarana Burke delivered a keynote sharing the story behind one of the biggest social justice movements of our time.
- In October, AAUW released the 2018 The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, which noted that women are losing more than $500 billion each year due to the gender pay gap. Two other research reports documented that women remain vastly underrepresented in top nonprofit positions and are disproportionately affected by student debt.
- We earned unprecedented press coverage of both our research on the pay gap and our new online Work Smart course, with stories appearing in 125+ major media outlets, including USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, NBC News, Market Watch, Bloomberg BNA, and many local NPR affiliates.
- Through our legal advocacy fund, we supported plaintiff Aileen Rizo in Rizo v. Fresno County Office of Education, a critical court decision in the fight for equal pay. In April, after AAUW joined an amicus brief to help move the case forward, the Ninth Circuit ruled that using prior salary alone wasn’t enough to justify a wage differential — a huge leap forward in addressing compensation inequity.
In 2019, we’ll continue to prioritize the economic security of women, regardless of their location, age, ethnicity, or background. Because economic security for women means economic security for American families. And we’ll work hard to ensure that employers, educators, and lawmakers are all doing their part to close the pay gap. We’ll start by ensuring that the members of the 116th Congress adopt a robust equity agenda when they convene in January. That will include supporting The Paycheck Fairness Act, which would protect workers by updating the Equal Pay Act of 1963, closing loopholes in existing law, strengthening penalties for equal pay violations, prohibiting retaliation against workers who voluntarily discuss or disclose their wages, and supporting research.
With the recent infusion of female voices in Congress, all of us at AAUW are optimistic that we can make gender pay equity the high priority it needs to be next year, and we are emboldened by our goal to close the pay gap once and for all by 2030.
Please enjoy perusing this special year-end edition of Outlook, which goes into greater depth on the important work AAUW is doing on behalf of women and girls everywhere. With so many 2018 successes behind us, and a gathering energy driving us forward, the outlook for 2019 is promising indeed. So let’s get back to work.
Julia T. Brown