Fall Conference Keynote

Title IX mandated equal opportunity in federally funded public education:  “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Although the original statute made no explicit mention of sports, the impact of the law on high school and collegiate athletic programs has been extensive.  In fact, the educational reforms brought about by Title IX have challenged long-held assumptions and broken legal barriers for women at all levels of education.

AAUW of Michigan is honored to have Bernice R. Sandler, Ed.D., “Godmother of Title IX,” as the keynote speaker for the Fall Conference on October 6, 2012.  As a visionary pioneer, she spent more than 50 years advocating for women’s rights via education equity, especially in science. She was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in 2010. Responsible for writing the first report on peer harassment in the classroom as well as the first report on campus gang rape, Sandler coined the phrase, “chilly campus climate,” to suggest how small, often unconscious, behaviors can create a detrimental impact on women’s academic achievements.  The first report on the chill experienced by African-American and Hispanic women on campus also was part of her work.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear Dr. Sandler’s compelling story. She will enlighten each of us as to the extent of change in the academic climate as well as work that remains to be done.

See “AAUW-MI Fall Conference Details” posted on August 29, 2012, for further information.


Source: press release courtesy of Barbara Bonsignore, AAUW of Michigan, Public-Policy Director


Keep Calm and Carry On

On the day in 1952 when a 25-year-old mother of two became queen — her long-term success at fulfilling this role could not be guaranteed. But her accession led one rising British politician to write that the young queen might “help  to remove the last shreds of prejudice against women aspiring to the highest places,” so that, “ a new era for women will indeed be at hand.”

That politician was Margaret Thatcher, and 27 years after she wrote those words, she arrived at Buckingham Palace for her first audience with the queen as prime minister. Both exceptional women had to reckon with the “push and pull of combining professional life and motherhood, and the challenges of having a husband in a subordinate position.” But they, and their spouses, also knew that their primary duty was not personal, but political: to heed the British imperative to “keep calm and carry on”…so everyone else could, too.

–direct quotation from Liesl Schillinger writing about Sally Bedell Smith’s biography, Elizabeth the Queen–The Life of a Modern Monarch

Breaking News from the NEW YORK TIMES

Five women who worked for Vito J. Lopez, the assemblyman from Brooklyn at the center of a growing sexual harassment scandal, described in interviews an atmosphere of sexual pressure and crude language in his office, with frequent unwanted advances by him and others, requests for provocative dress, personal questions about their boyfriends and fears of reprisals if they complained.

By their accounts, Mr. Lopez told some women not to wear bras to work. He requested they wear short skirts and high heels. He gave them cash to buy jewelry and complimented them on their figures, giving special attention to those he called “well endowed.

He asked about their personal lives, urging them to break up with boyfriends, and berated those women — all of whom were new to politics — who did not compliment him effusively enough, according to several of the women interviewed.

The sexual harassment scandal that has been roiling New York’s political world began last Friday, when the Assembly’s ethics committee substantiated claims that Mr. Lopez harassed two women. The Assembly released a letter censuring Mr. Lopez, one of the city’s last powerful political bosses, stripped him of his committee chairmanship and barred him from employing interns or anyone under the age of 21. The letter described “pervasive unwelcome verbal conduct” and found that Mr. Lopez verbally harassed, groped and kissed two of his staffers without their consent.

Patience & persistence

                              Rushing to judgment easily blurs one’s vision.

To call upon an old cliché, haste makes waste. Ironically, we find ourselves in an instant world. Instant coffee. Instant messaging. Instant foods. Instant downloads. Instant technologies. Instant sales. Flash mobs. Instant weather alerts.

In our haste, many Americans have dismissed the consideration of complexity and complication. That which is subtle or nuanced has become an endangered species of the mind. Amid intense florescent glare and decadent decibels delivered by ever bigger sound systems, that which is muted, subdued or delicate is crushed and annihilated. Nuance has been nixed.

What must we do to encourage people to invest in becoming perceptive and discerning? It is a fundamental and essential query for a society still in search of equity for all. We must stay the course and methodically move toward our goals. Patience and persistence will out.

 “We desire justice. And justice has never been obtained in haste and strong feeling.”  — The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

In just 35 days, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide will air on PBS.

Inspired by journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book of the same name, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide brings together video, websites, games, blogs, music and educational tools to raise awareness of the challenges facing women and girls globally and to provide concrete steps to fight these problems and empower women. Change is possible, and you can be part of the solution.

At the Global Festival on September 29 in NYC, Half the Sky Movement is proud to represent a broad coalition of partner organizations dedicated to a creating a fairer, freer, safer world: Afghan Institute of Learning, Apne Aap, Fistula Foundation, Futures Without Violence, International Rescue Committee, Kashf, Opportunity International, Save the Children, Somaly Mam Foundation, Tostan, Women’s World Banking, and WorldVision.

Watch Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide on PBS on October 1 & 2 and play the Facebook game on November 13.

The Arts Teach Us to Break Thought Barriers

The arts teach us:

  • that problems can have more than one solution and that questions can have more than one answer.

to celebrate multiple perspectives, that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.
  • that problem-solving purposes are seldom fixed, but change with unanticipated possibilities as work unfolds.
  • to think through material, the medium through which imagination becomes real.
  • that language does not define the limits of cognition.
  • to learn to say what cannot be said.
  • to have unique-signal experiences that help us discover what we are capable of feeling.
  • that subtle differences can have large effects.
  • to make good judgments about qualities rather than just quantities

Source: The Arts and the Creation of Mind by Elliot Eisner


Take pride that your AAUW branch collaborates with arts organizations such as the Dearborn Community Arts Council, Dearborn Symphony Orchestra and The Community Fund.

Forget the five Ws!

If I could gain access to the two-presumptive presidential candidates, I would love to hear their specific and detailed answers to the following questions:

  • How will you make women’s priorities part of your presidential priorities?
  • How do you intend to promote pay equity?
  • How do you plan to protect women’s rights to affordable-comprehensive-safe health care?
  • How do you intend to strengthen protection for women from violence?
  • How do you intend to slow the scourge of sexual assault on active-duty women in the armed services?
  • How are you going to improve public education in America?
  • How do you intend to fund grants to allow students to actually being able to afford to graduate from college?
  • How will you assure that a greater percentage of women and minorities are included in judicial and executive nominations?

Happy “Women’s Equality Day”!

Yesterday, four members of our branch, Sally Barnett, Francesca Payne, Ann Weston and I attended the “Women’s Equality Day” luncheon in Livonia. The guest speaker was Carolyn Cook, founder of United 4 Equality,  who is hard at work trying to remove the ratification time limit on the Equal Rights Amendment. Fifty-plus, state-and-national advocacy organizations are supporting her efforts. Happily for us, Congressman Dingell, Senators Levin and Stabenow are all co-sponsors who are united for equality with us.

Please take time to thank our legislators for supporting H.J. Res. 47 and S.J. Res. 39, “Removing the deadline for the ratification of the equal rights amendment.” See page 42 in your branch directory for specific contact details.

Meanwhile, I hope you will also take time to read my column in today’s Dearborn Press & Guide, entitled, “It is time to ratify the ERA.” I took it as a good omen when I saw the paper today. The title I had submitted was “In Equality, not Inequality.”  I am happy to report that Tim Powers, the male editor, took a bolder stance than I.