Presidents’ Pen


The American Association of University Women was founded in 1881 by Marion Talbot and Ellen Richards under the name of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae.  The branch structure was established in 1884 with the provision that they carry on the work of the larger association in addition to their independent work.  Washington, D.C. was home to the first branch.  In 1885 the first research report, Health Statistics of Women College Graduates, established that, contrary to popular belief, women’s health is not adversely affected by attending college.

 In 1907 ACA begins the study of equal pay.  A report presented in 1913 on Civil Service jobs finds that women are paid about 78 percent of what men who are similarly employed earn. In 1920 ACA assists Marie Curie in the purchase of one gram of radium to continue her research.  The Southern Association of College Women and the Association of Collegiate Alumnae merge in March of 1921 to form the American Associate of University Women. In 1941 The Living Wage for College Women is published. It documented wide spread sex discrimination in academia and served to improve the status of women on campus. 

AAUW supports the first federal pay equity legislation on May 8, 1945.  AAUW bylaws were revised in June 1945 to state that the only requirement for membership was a college degree.  This statement reaffirmed that women college graduates of all races are eligible for membership. At the 1971 convention, AAUW members passed resolutions supporting the legalization of abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment. The Legal Advocacy Fund was established in 1981 to support women who seek justice in instances of sex discrimination in higher education.  AAUW membership was extended to male college graduates.  In 1995 the Family Medical Leave Act was passed aided by the hard work of the AAUW Lobby Corp. That year also saw the launch of the Voter Education Campaign.  

In 2002 AAUW hosted the first National Conference for College Women Student Leaders at the American University in Washington, D.C.  More than 250 students attended. AAUW membership was expanded to include graduates who hold an associate or equivalent degree from a qualified educational intuition in June 2005.  AAUW received special consultative status in 2008 with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.  This designation gives AAUW a voice at U.N. meetings and on committees such as the Commission on the Status of Women, U.N. Women, the Committee on Teaching about the United Nations, and the Working Group on Girls. In 2013 AAUW welcomed our first international/college university partner member, the Australian National University.  AAUW was invited by the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor to contribute to an update of the influential American Women report on the report’s 50th anniversary.  

Since its first meeting in 1881, AAUW has been a catalyst for change………….

Please take time to fill out the survey (See article on merger discussions on page) coming in June.  The decisions you make today will decide the future of AAUW in the Lehigh Valley.

Fran & Nancy