Open Membership Toolkit

Every Voice Matters

This spring, AAUW members will vote on a long-standing membership requirement, which creates a barrier to women who do not hold a college degree. By eliminating this requirement, AAUW can become a more diverse and inclusive organization, better aligned with the needs of women today. This toolkit is designed to help branch and state officials lead substantive, productive conversations about this important vote.

Collage of AAUW board of directors headshots.

From the AAUW Board of Directors

“The AAUW National Board of Directors strongly supports elimination of the degree requirement for membership and will put the requirement up for a membership vote this spring. This important change is a critical step in bringing AAUW’s bylaws and membership requirement in line with our mission of advancing equity for women and girls. While AAUW is fiercely committed to the educational attainment of all women, given our commitment to inclusion, this is simply the right thing to do.

“Proposals to eliminate the degree requirement for membership have come before the membership for vote a number of times. The Board feels very strongly that while the degree requirement made perfect sense at AAUW’s inception, this requirement is now counter to our mission, and limits our ability to build the capacity needed to increase our impact as an organization.

“Members can comment on the proposed amendment from January 11, 2021 through February 5, 2021 5:00 PM ET.  Voting will open on April 7, 20210 and close May 17, 2021 5:00 PM ET.”

We encourage respectful debate that has always been a hallmark of the AAUW community. Please send any comments to let the Board know of your thoughts on this proposal and exercise your vote this spring.

— AAUW Board of Directors

Member Voices

“I would like to share my mother’s story: In 1942, she graduated first in her high school class and traditionally would have received a college scholarship from a local women’s group. When the group learned she was the daughter of immigrants, they changed the selection criteria and denied her the scholarship. As the youngest child of a widowed immigrant mother, she could not continue her education. She raised two daughters who achieved five degrees between them. Are today’s women who were denied an education through poverty or prejudice unworthy?”

Old black and white photo of a young Janine with her sister, mother, and grandmother.

Malinda Gaul: Open Membership

AAUW Board Vice Chair Malinda Gaul explains why AAUW members should vote to eliminate the membership degree requirement.

Key Dates
January 11, 2021
Comment on the proposed bylaws change
February 5, 2021
Comments submitted by 5:00 pm ET will be reviewed by the Board of Directors prior to their final vote on the bylaws amendment
April 7, 2021
Voting opens
May 17, 2021
Voting closes at 5:00 pm ET