Five Top Universities Here in Michigan!

Washington Monthly’s College Guide and Rankings rates universities based upon what they do for  students and the country.
The publication cites three qualities among schools selected for recognition:
~producing cutting-edge research and new Ph.Ds.

~encouraging students to give back to the nation through service

~promoting social mobility by recruiting and graduating low-income students.

Of the 100 schools chosen this year, 59 are public universities. One hundred universities in fifty states suggests Michigan might have two picks. However, Michigan can take pride having earned five slots!


  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor ( ranked 13th nationally)
  • Michigan State University (ranked 34th nationally)
  • Michigan Technological University (ranked 63rd nationally)
  • Western Michigan University (ranked 90th nationally)
  • Wayne State University (ranked 95th nationally )


Gender-Equity “Policies” from Across the Pond

For some time now, Europeans have been struggling over gender equity on company boards. A proposal that would force companies to devote forty percent of supervisory board positions to women has been forwarded by the European Union’s justice commissioner.

Now comes news that the chair, Sharon Bowles, of the European Parliament’s economic-and-monetary- affairs committee has thrown down a new challenge: “There is now not even a single woman sitting on the main board of what is one of the most powerful and essential institutions in the E.U.” referring to the executive board of the European Central Bank.

Bowles has no real power in the matter, as Parliament plays only an advisory role in the selection of board members; however, the hearing to fill the seat has been postponed.

A Labor Day Remembrance

She was the first female cabinet member.

In office for twelve years from 1933 to 1945, she served longer than any other Secretary of Labor.

As the fourth Secretary of Labor, she was the first woman to enter the presidential line of succession.

Her accomplishments were enormous! Her battle plan against the Great Depression made her  instrumental in the adoption of social security, unemployment insurance, federal laws regulating child labor and the federal minimum wage. The Fair Labor Standards Act set a minimum wage balanced by a maximum number of hours. The Wagner Act safeguarded the workers’ right to organize. Working with numerous state governments, she fortified the enforcement of  labor law.

Even with a list of extraordinary accomplishments, she was harassed publicly for being a woman in a “man’s job.”

She left office in 1945 after Roosevelt’s death and worked for yet another two decades, serving on the U.S. Civil Service Commission for President Truman then teaching and lecturing until her death.

She was inducted into the Labor Hall of Fame in 1988.

The Department of Labor building in Washington, D.C. is named The Frances Perkins Building.

Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. described Frances Perkins as: “Brisk and articulate, with vivid dark eyes, a broad forehead and a pointed chin, usually wearing a felt tricorn hart, she remained a Brahmin reformer, proud of her New England background . . . and intent on beating sense into the heads of those foolish people who resisted progress. She had pungency of character, a dry wit, an inner gaiety, an instinct for practicality, a profound vein of religious feeling, and a compulsion to instruct . . .”

As with all women who trod the halls of power, she had to maintain a careful balance. She had to be tactful yet politically astute. She had to temper capability with courage. A quiet-cool persona was sometimes mistaken for aloofness. Although her legislative accomplishments indicate her great love of workers and lower-class groups, her “proper” Bostonian background made her reticent to mingle and demonstrate affection and regard. However, she obviously valued and even loved members of the working class. Sadly, although she was able to effect sweeping reforms, the public never embraced her.

She was a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, the first of the Seven Sisters, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics. (A STEM-field graduate!)  Later, she earned a master’s degree from Columbia University in political science. Today, Mount Holyoke College has a Francis Perkins Program, founded in 1980, which allows non-traditional students to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree. Each year there are approximately 140 students enrolled in the program.

The Incomplete Revolution

For women who believe in equity, a fascinating new book, The Good Girls Revolt by Lynn Povich, is about to be released. It promises to be a good read as it examines the story of a group of women who worked for Newsweek in the 1970s who took the then-audacious step of suing over sex discrimination.

“When I graduated from college, before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 took effect, sex discrimination was legal. I wanted to write for a newspaper or a news magazine, but despite an armload of credentials and skills, I soon learned the score: Women could do research, be secretaries and, if very lucky, work for the ghetto called the women’s page. But other than that, the guys were hired as the writers, and that was that,” reports Anne Eisenberg in a piece in today’s New York Times.

An anxious and frightened, but determined, group of rebels persuaded Eleanor Holmes Norton to take their case. At that time, Norton was the assistant legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union .

Ironically, the now iconic, Katharine Graham, was publisher of The Washington Post and president of the corporation that owned Newsweek. Her paradoxical situation led her to ask, “Which side am I supposed to be on?”

Eventually the band of rebels prevailed, and Povich became the first-female senior editor at Newsweek, working for a lower salary than her male colleagues. A fight for pay equity ensued when she discovered the differential.

Anne Eisenberg ends her article with this: “The Good Girls Revolt has many timely lessons for working women who are concerned about discrimination today, and for the companies that employ them. Feminism is an incomplete revolution that has yet to reach its goals. But this sparkling, informative book may help move these goals a tiny bit closer.”

Sounds to me like it’s a good book that needs to be read!

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