Presidents’ Pen

That was then………….and this is now

  In 1881 Marion Talbot and Ellen Richards invited 15 alumnae from 8 colleges to create an organization of women college graduates that would assist women in finding greater opportunities to use their education, as well as promoting and assisting other women’s college attendance.  The Association of Collegiate Alumnae of ACA was officially founded on January 14, 1882.  In 1885 the organization took on one of its first major projects: they essentially had to justify their right to exist.  A common belief held at the time was that a college education would harm women’s health and result in infertility.  Questions were sent to 1,290 members and 705 replies were received.  The results were tabulated and the data demonstrated that higher education did not harm women’s health.  

In 1921, the ACA merged with the Southern Association of College Women to create AAUW.  AAUW grew from a small local organization to a nationwide network of college education, and by 1929, there were 31,647 members and 475 branches.  The organization was largely apolitical until the 1960s.  By the end of the 60s women made up 38% of the work force.  Membership in AAUW had increased to 147,920 women, most of them middle class.

And this is now………fast forward to the 21st century.   Today women comprise 47 percent of the total U.S. workforce.  The most common occupations for women starts with secondary school teachers, financial managers, teaching assistants, waiters and waitresses, personal care aides, social workers, preschool and kindergarten teachers, education administrators, cooks and licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.   Women also work as roofers, diesel mechanics, electricians, heavy equipment operators, pilots, horse trainers, dancers, nurses, managers, cashiers, customer service representatives, accountants and small business owners. A female high school student who is in the National Honor Society plans to study to become a diesel mechanic after graduating from high school.  Another student with no desire to go to college started her own small business.  AAUW advances equity for women and girls though advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research.  It is now the 21st century and we need to become more inclusive and open membership to any person who supports our goal of advancing equity for women.  Please vote yes to eliminate the degree requirement for membership.

Fran & Nancy