To be honest, I expected my next blog to be about another historical event this semester; I thought I would be writing about the election of our first female president. Given the shocking outcome of this bizarre campaign, I guess I will have to settle for the history made by the Chicago Cubs with their first World Series win since 1908 (Yes I am baseball fan). Inasmuch as it was an exciting series with great plays by both teams and a thrilling victory for the Cubs, I still feel compelled to use this blog post to advance women’s causes. Therefore I will spend some time writing about an organization based here in Washington with which I am very proud to affiliate – the American Association of University Women – or AAUW.
AAUW’s story began in Boston in 1881 where 17 college educated women, led by Marion Talbot and Ellen Richards, convened to discuss the status and needs of women in college. The first research they published disproved the commonly held belief at that time that attending college adversely affected women’s health. As early as 1907 (that’s 13 years before women had the right to vote), questions were raised about opportunities for college alumnae in the workforce and why they did not receive equal pay for equal work.
More than 100 years later, women still do not receive equal pay for equal work.
That is one of the reasons why I decided to get involved. I am a trained workshop facilitator for their Start Smart & Work Smart Salary Negotiation for Women programs. Through these amazing programs, women gain the knowledge and practice the skills they need to successfully negotiate salary and benefits, for their first post-college job and throughout their working lives. Living in Washington, DC this semester gave me the perfect opportunity to facilitate a workshop for our Stony Brook University alumnae group here and it was terrific! I also took advantage of my present location to visit AAUW headquarters and meet several of the staff in person. They are passionate, dedicated, and inspiring! At that meeting I pledged to do more for the organization, and have since connected AAUW with my professional association, the National Association of Colleges & Employers, whose 11,000 college and employer members need to know about AAUW and its work. I am also connecting AAUW with the State University of New York (SUNY) system, with 64 campuses and 500,000 students. My goal is to help expand AAUW’s programs by alerting my colleagues in career services across the country and urging them to get trained, to get out there and work with women to help close that pay gap!
AAUW is much more than a pay-equity advocate; AAUW is more than 170,000 members strong, with 1000 local branches and 800 university partners. They hold conferences around the country to help develop women leaders, promote and encourage women to run for political office; they work to dispel gender stereotypes and increase the talent pipeline of women in STEM; they engage in research to support advocacy and public policy initiatives related to women and girls; and they provide millions of dollars in scholarships and fellowships to women across the country.
I am deeply honored to be part of AAUW’s mission, which remains true to its founding: to advance equity for women and girls. I pray that my small contributions can indeed advance the cause.
Marianna Savoca, PhD., Director of the Career Center at Stony Brook University–State University of New York, is a Faculty Fellow this semester at the Business-Higher Education Forum.