Dear AAUW Members,
Here are three documents about the education requirement vote that is coming up:
1. A document that explains the Process of Voting and Deadlines, etc.
2. A document, from AAUW National’s website, Brief Talking Points on Voting Yes.
3. A document, from our branch’s February Zoom calls, summarizing the viewpoints of individual members who expressed their opinions on Voting No. There is no similar document on AAUW National’s website.
The National AAUW site only shows reasons for voting “Yes” on the upcoming measure on whether to remove the Education requirement. To view those arguments, see https://www.aauw.org/app/uploads/2020/12/Brief-Talking-Points-FINAL.pdf
In the interest of fairness, below we have published information from recent meetings of our Branch that discuss reasons for voting “No” on removing the AAUW Education Requirement.
For Our Members of AAUW, Fremont Branch
Vote No: Removing the AAUW Education Requirement
It is Not the ‘Right Thing’ to do
American Association of University Women Fulfills a Niche
AAUW began in 1881 when a small group of college graduates came together for the purpose of women’s career advancement and to specifically encourage more women to pursue a higher education. Marion Talbot is one of these original founders, who became the Dean of the College of Women at the University of Chicago and a leading figure in higher education.
Other women’s groups exist that do not have an education requirement, and these do not fulfill this niche.
Women are proud of their higher education
AAUW’s main mission fosters education in women. This historically positive mission and message should not be subverted by anyone to imply that AAUW is elitist and/or exclusive. In every way, women who hold degrees are empowered. This empowerment should not be demeaned by messaging that implies women with degrees as trying to be elitist over women who do not hold degrees. Even if the messaging stays the same and only the bylaws are changed, this will be confusing to members and against their principles.
Recently, our first lady Dr. Jill Biden was attacked and told to remove the ‘Dr.’ from her name because it was elitist.Dr. Biden said this:“And one of the things I’m most proud of is my doctorate,” “I mean I worked so hard for it.” Joe Biden also said, “She had two master’s degrees and she kept going to school all the time while teaching at night.”See: https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/News/dr-jill-biden-responds-op-ed-called-drop/story?id=74797472
Likewise, many of AAUW’s members can relate to various hardships they have endured in earning their degrees and take pride in their degrees and are specifically members in AAUW for the education requirement and messaging.
Corporations should not dictate AAUW’s Mission
One of the key arguments AAUW National is making to remove the education requirement focuses on not being able to get more corporate donors who see the education requirement as elitist and not inclusive. But, corporations should not dictate what AAUW’s principles should be. AAUW (a nonprofit) should find ways to reduce overhead costs, seek out and work with corporations who do support AAUW’s education mission (that has been supported by membership for decades since 1881) and convince corporations not to blindly follow ‘cancel culture’ or a blanket ‘political correctness’ in an ‘all or nothing’ manner.
Loss of Dues Paying Members Across the Board
Eliminating the education requirement may actually result in a large loss of current dues paying members, who have loyally renewed membership for decades. The average age of AAUW members is 60+. Loss of members will not only decrease dues earned by AAUW National, since the significant portion of dues go directly to National, but also gut the vitality of local and state branches because active members will no longer volunteer their energy and resources to high quality programming that serves local communities, including community colleges.
Procedural problems with a vote to remove the education requirement
Given the age demographic of AAUW’s membership (and this pandemic), an overwhelming number of members may not read emails from AAUW because they do not keep up with emails or don’t use technology on a regular basis. AAUW has not provided any counter arguments for members to read or factual data. These members may not realize they must vote ‘No’ to keep the education requirement and this vote may pass (with a low 5% member vote) without their knowledge. Once the education requirement is removed, it cannot be put back. Having paid dues (for decades and continuing) local members deserve the right to be fairly informed.
There is no need to remove the education requirement
AAUW’s bylaws already allows members with AA degrees and already allows college student members who don’t have degrees yet. Bylaws should be re-written to allow local branches to decide on a case-by-case basis if honorary membership should be given to a person based on her/his background if/when such a person comes forward. There is no data showing that a significant number of members have been turned away due to the education requirement. Again, once the education requirement is removed, it cannot be put back in.
AAUW also has specific programming for women who may not have a degree, such as the equity network and work smart. An increase in such programming, as well as programming related to childcare and other issues that prevent women from getting educations should be ramped up so all women can have access to education.
Education leads to higher salaries
It is clearly understood (and has been researched) that on average, for the majority of the population, the higher the education, the higher the salary. This is why AAUW’s education requirement is important to keep. There may be some women who are successful without degrees, but the overwhelming statistics reflect the opposite. See: https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2020/data-on-display/education-pays.htm
The Factual data on minority women earning degrees does not align with removing the education requirement
AAUW should strive to encourage more women to earn higher educational degrees. The facts show more minority women are actually getting degrees and by keeping the education requirement in AAUW, the message reinforces what research shows – that pursuing higher education is valuable and leads to more opportunities. See: https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=72
A better focus of resources and energy for AAUW, that is in line with its core mission, would be to increase scholarships and fellowships given to minority women as well as continue to create effective programming that helps minority women earn an equal wage.
The Factual data on women earning Stem degrees does not align with removing the education requirement
AAUW’s own research demonstrates that women are not earning enough Stem degrees, which means they are not entering Stem fields in equal numbers to men. Thus, women are being left out of high earning Stem jobs. There is more work to do in this regard and removing the education requirement sends a confusing, misaligned message to women and girls. See: https://www.aauw.org/resources/research/the-stem-gap/
Date: Mar 13, 2021 04:16 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
CLIMATE CHANGE—WE CAN ALL CONTRIBUTE TO SOLUTIONS
Have you ever thought that climate change is such an enormous problem that there is very little you can do? Well, think again. Learn about the Fremont Green Challenge, and how we can all work together to ensure a more resilient future.
Patrick Jurney from Community Climate Solutions will offer a presentation of his work with the City of Fremont, and engage us in a discussion of how all of us can contribute to climate solutions in our own community.
Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Fremont, Newark and Union City(LWVFNUC) and the American Association of University Women (AAUW), this program will take place via Zoom on: March 4, 2021 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Register for this Zoom program at the League of Women Voters website: www.lwvfnuc.org