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Welcome to the Dearborn, MI Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW)!

AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. Founded in 1881, AAUW is open to graduates with an associate or higher degree from an accredited college or university, as well as students currently enrolled in college.  Dues support the operations of the Dearborn-Michigan branch, founded in 1933, as well as the state and national organizations.

Educate a Girl; Change the World

Girl-Rising-DVD

The Battle Creek branch of AAUW is planning to screen
Girl Rising, a docu-drama from Academy Award-nominated director Richard E. Robbins.

Millions of girls in the world today face barriers to education that boys do not. This film focuses upon nine-ordinary girls, all of whom live in the developing world, as they confront challenges and overcome odds to pursue the dream of being educated. Witness the strength of their human spirit and the power of education to make societal change. You’ll be glad you did!
WHEN: Tuesday August 12, 2014
WHERE: 2500 West Columbia Avenue, Battle Creek, MI
TIME: 7:30 p.m.
COST: $11.00

RSVP in advance by “purchasing” tickets. (Your credit card will not be charged until there are enough reservations to assure screening the film. Once enough tickets have been reserved, you will receive an e-mail from Gathr Films prompting you to print your tickets. Then, and only then, your credit card will be charged.)

Please visit: <https://gathr.us/screening/reserve/8455> to reserve your ticket.

Watch the trailer at <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJsvklXhYaE> You’ll want to see the film.

Contact Jenny Andrews, AAUW-Battle Creek Branch President at (269) 967-1374 or via email <jenadesigns@comcast.net> if you have questions or concerns.

Global Equity Versus Global Iniquity

More than 1,300 women from 85 countries recentlyGWS_2014_parissummitthing1 met recently  in France for the 24th Global Summit of Women — “Women: Redesigning Economies, Societies”.

 
While recognizing that three major forces shape culture — business, politics and religion — speakers coalesced around key understandings:

 

  •  Research proves that Gender Equity creates significant economic and social benefits.
  • Efforts to re-tool women to think and act like men are misdirected.
  • Girls must be encouraged then educated to withstand negative cultural messages.
  • Gender Violence (whether genital cutting, using rape as a tool to subjugate victims in war zones, sexual trafficking, domestic violence, religious rationalizations) must cease! Sexual violence is a global plague that can be eradicated.
  • Change happens only when collective power activates. Making societal change is enormously difficult. It needs a shift of collective consciousness to occur.

 

So, how can businesses, political movements and religious groups be changed in an effort to reshape cultures?

  • Individuals must understand that these societal shifts are for the betterment of their daughters, their sons, their grandchildren.
  • Men must engage in the struggle. They must do so for their mothers, their aunts, their wives, their sisters, their children. As men step us as allies, they will model for others how to ameliorate gender inequity. They will reach out to engage their fathers, uncles husbands, brothers, male bosses and colleagues. Otherwise women activists will remain confined in restrictive echo chambers of discourse. Men must be persuaded to help make change, for peer pressure is a potent force.
  • Companies not committed to gender parity must be perceived as obsolete. NAMING and SHAMING companies mired in the good-old-boys, locker-room level of leadership can help too. If masses of stockholders began to dis-invest, change could be swift. Check out “Pax World Funds” as a place to begin.

 

In her book, POWERING UP! How America’s Women Achievers Become Leaders, Anne Doyle wrote a chapter called, “What Do Men Have To Do With It?” Her answer is: “they have EVERYTHING to do with girls and women becoming equal global citizens. From stopping sexual violence — against girls, women, boys and other men — to tackling gender inequity and prying open leadership locker room doors, men’s active engagement is essential. Why? For two major reasons: 1) Men still hold over 80% of the decision-making positions all over the world and 2) Men will follow other men and respond to peer pressure from other males. Look for those men. They are all around you. Start a conversation.”

 

Branch member produces new play!

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While the rest of us are bathing in the summer sunlight, Collette Cullen is happily immersed in the limelight!

 
She has exciting news to share. She has penned a new one-act play set in Detroit entitled “Between the Thorns.”

 
The production features Carissa Madley and Madelyn Porter. Collette declares the two of them to be the most gifted actors with whom she has ever worked.  Madelyn Porter is a performing artist at The Henry Ford. In addition, she works as an actress, comedienne and storyteller. Carissa Madley graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in vocal-music education, teaches school and participates in community theatre.

 
Collette explains that “Between the Thorns” is about real people, what she calls the brick-and-mortar folks of Detroit. Her play celebrates their unique voices and diversity. She hopes her characters’ stories will spur audiences to dream of a better world.  Collette plans to develop her new play into a longer work.

 
This is Collette’s second year participating in Random Acts of Theatre. Last year, she produced “Annie Speaks” about Helen Keller’s teacher, Annie Sullivan. Ordinarily, Collette presents the play as a dramatic monologue, but last year at Random Acts she divided the play into two parts. One actress played the young Annie; the other portrayed her as a senior citizen. It was a highly successful gambit and made a lasting impression. A few props, detailed costuming, and a grand Irish lilt succeeded in bringing Annie Sullivan back to life.

 

Last year, opening night sold out. So buy your tickets soon to avoid disappointment. Hope to see many AAUW members in the audience August 15 and 16, 2014. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors and students.

This message brings a tear to my eye!

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Spreading the Love of Reading,
Person to Person

Dear World Book Night U.S. friend,

After three years in which thousands and thousands of you distributed over a million and half specially-printed World Book Night paperbacks across America, we are sad to announce that we are suspending operations. The expenses of running World Book Night U.S., even given the significant financial and time commitment from publishers, writers, booksellers, librarians, printers, distributors, shippers–and you, our amazing givers!–are too high to sustain.

This has been a remarkable, passionate undertaking, and it has been a success by all measures, except for one: Outside funding. For three years, the publishing industry and book community have very generously footed the bill and contributed enormous time and effort, and we are so very grateful for all the support.

We did receive some funds via individual donations, and we worked very hard to get grants. We did get some, but there are a lot of other worthy causes out there and only so much money available. We can’t carry on without significant, sustainable outside funding.

From World Book Night U.S. Board Chairman Michael Pietsch: “World Book Night’s first three years have been a profound experience for everyone involved. The altruistic spirit of the givers and of industry supporters have reminded us all of the transformative impact books have on people’s lives, and of the power of a book as a gift. The World Book Night Board joins me in extending their deep gratitude to all who have taken part.”

WBN U.S. Exec Director Carl Lennertz added: “Some of you know our names here, but I want to be sure you know these–Laura Peraza and Carolyn Schwartz. They have been here since day one, and they, along with you, are my heroes. Alia Almeida joined us this year and was a creative force. A list of all the booksellers, librarians, authors, and folks in publishing and at Ingram would be too long to include here, but they know who they are and I know they have loved being a part of this beautiful thing we did together.”

We are staying on hand through the summer without pay to maintain social media contact with you all, to talk good books, and to announce the winner of the giver essay contest.

YOU, the givers, made it possible for WBN to reach its full potential. For us here at World Book Night, this experience has been life-changing, as we hope it has been for you and recipients of the books. Our gratitude to you is simply immeasurable.

With much love, appreciation, and admiration, thank you!
Team WBN U.S

Whip-Lashed, Big-Blink Double Take

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An article in today’s New York Times ends:

“She stood with her arms clasped, quietly studying the enormous man’s moves. Her mawashi was still wrapped around her waist.

“Could she take him on? She wrinkled her brow.

“‘I could try,’ she said.”
The conclusion of the feature item reads like dialogue in one of those motion pictures where a woman of courage takes on some gigantic-evil system, only to triumph in the end against all odds.

One competitor’s statement: “You have to trust your body,” brought to mind, Title IX.

Frankly, it amazed me. It had never-ever occurred to me that women might want to engage in sumo wrestling. After all we are steeped in a society where body image is fraught with peril, and to step on a scale in public would daunt many of us. “Sumo wrestling, the ancient full-contact sport of Japan, has been a tough sell to American women. In this country of almost 315 million people, where body-image anxiety could be included as a national sport, there are fewer than a dozen serious competitors.”

Tonight, somewhere, a screenwriter may be hard at work on a charming, hilarious-serious script about a woman breaking new ground and earning respect and success against the odds as a sumo wrestler. After all it is the quintessential sports story. We love to applaud and cheer for the oddball who triumphs.

Sumo wrestlers “begin with a single clap to awaken the gods, then raise their arms to show they are unarmed. ‘It’s about being bare.’”

The article bared my shortsightedness and delighted me as I pondered its oxymoronic elements, as well as all the arenas where women have stepped up, determined to try something new and different.

To learn more, read “Ancient Sport, Few Women” by Mary Pilon. Then push images of geishas far from your mind.

 

 

Facing the Anonymous Judgments

Sexist Word CloudThe hate-males use words like bitch, C-word, prostitute, skank, whore. Such words create an efficient visual shorthand. It dismisses and demeans women who write on the Internet especially. “This kind of vitriol seeks to intimidate and, ultimately, to silence female journalists who write about controversial topics,” according to Amy Wallace, editor and correspondent.

Sadly, it is not women writers’ intellects that are attacked. It’s their bodies and their faces.

Misogyny, gender judgment and harassment are deeply entrenched within America’s polarized-political issues today. Perhaps with a stiff infusion of wit and intelligence, such cheap shots can be elevated from sexism to satire one day. We could sure use some Mark Twains!

A New Tipping Point?

Being strong and tough used to be a predictor of economic success. That is no longer true. Brains, not brawn, now rule, the global economy.

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Meanwhile in politically polarized D.C. there is a think tank named Third Way. It wants to represent Americans in the “vital center” — those who believe pragmatism and principled compromise can move America forward. The media have labeled Third Way’s attempts to advance moderate policy and politics, “the future of think tanks,” “incorrigible pragmatists,” “radical centrists,” and the “best source for new ideas in public policy.” Third Way thinks hard about education and today’s economy.

Their research demonstrates that upon entering kindergarten, high-income children:

  • know more words
  • can read better
  • have longer attention spans
  • have better-controlled tempers
  • demonstrate more sensitivity to others.

In behavioral skills, girls are:

  • more attentive
  • better behaved
  • more sensitive
  • more persistent
  • more flexible
  • more independent than boys.

Girls are ahead of the game when they enter schools and their lead continues to widen. Social and behavioral differences between the genders are shaping academic differences:

  • Advanced math and science classes in high schools now enroll more girls than boys.
  • In the last 25 years, the portion of women with four-year college degrees has jumped 75%!
  • While single-parent families have surged in the last generation, girls typically grow up with a mother. However, boys in these families do not grow up with a father.
  • Interestingly, girls growing up with a mother alone are succeeding, on average, as well as girls from traditional two-parent homes! Girls’ elementary-school teachers are also most typically female. Role models are intact for females. Not so for boys.

We, in AAUW, have often lamented the fact that young women so rarely encounter female science professors as role models; now we see young men growing up without fathers or male teachers present in their early lives.

David Leonhardt, managing editor of The New York Times website covering politics and policy, sums up some of the effects of such gender issues:

“The problems that stem from gender have become double-edged. The old forms of sexism, while greatly diminished, still constrain women. The job market exacts harsh financial and career penalties on anyone who decides to work part time or take time off, and the workers who do so are overwhelmingly female. That’s a big part of the reason that the top ranks of corporate America, Silicon Valley and the government remain dominated by men.”

Now, analysts are beginning to suggest the sluggish economy is linked to the academic struggles of males.  Wages for men are stuck in place, and in some cases, plummeting as the middle class appears to dissolve before our eyes. It is time that parents and educators consider the differences in learning styles between the genders.

Bearing the Brunt

campos_student_loansComing of age during a great-big recession, high unemployment and falling wages must be depressing at best.

40 million individuals in our nation hold student loans that add up to more than one trillion dollars. That’s a trillion with twelve zeroes, one for each month of the year!

Even the order of household debt has shifted:

  • 1. Mortgage
  • 2. Car
  • 3. STUDENT DEBT
  • 4. Credit cards

Seven million (only six zeroes in a mere million!) student-loan borrowers are in default. Many more are behind in their payments.  As individuals with damaged credit records, they face higher interest rates on loans, being rejected on rental applications and lost job opportunities. What their narrowed economic choices mean in terms of the housing market, having babies and our country’s typical-generational economic stimulus can only be speculated upon.

We must find ways to protect students who borrow against economic risk. One answer may lie in creating flexible repayment plans. Student-loan repayments could be made to rise and fall with their individuals incomes. In some ways, that would simply parallel what we already do with social security and income tax.

 

 

Rest in Peace, Maya Angelou

maya_angelou1PHENOMENAL WOMAN by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

 

At the White House Science Fair

0527-white-house-science-fair-stem-obama_full_600Barack ObamaSince women constitute only a small percentage of those employed in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) disciplines, the fourth-annual, White House Science Fair focused on women in STEM fields.

 

 

President Obama, in an interesting Title IX metaphor, stressed that this paucity hurts the nation. “That means we got half our team we’re not even putting on the field. We’ve got to change those numbers.”

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In his remarks, the President suggested that, “As a society, we have to celebrate outstanding work by young people in science at least as much as we do Super Bowl winners, because superstar biologists and engineers and rocket scientists and robot builders, they don’t always get the attention that they deserve, but they’re what’s going to transform our society.”

For further information on STEM programs available to students in this area, contact Donna Palm, retired automotive engineer and branch Program Vice President.