Monday, March 31, 2008

What to Read in April and Next Year

From Marjorie Regan:

At the meeting April 15th we will be discussing Things Fall Apart by CHinua Achebe. It is an excellent book and can be understood on several levels. The discussion at UCCC last week was wonderful. If you can get to the discussion at Bard April 11th, I think you will enjoy it.

Don't forget to keep going with Middlemarch. I finished this lovely story last week. It is well worth the time to read it.

I made a list of the books you suggested for next year at the last meeting -- see below. We can add to it or eliminate some and then vote in May.


1.The Great Man by Kate Christianson publ. 2007 about women

2.Enemy Women by Paulette Giles- Civil War (BCB)

3.Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

4.Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, a Down Syndrome Baby, Marriage, siblings. (BCB)

5.The Grave Diggers Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates

6.The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

7.Memories, Dreams and Reflections by Carl G. Jung

8.Deafening by Frances Itani, about a Canadian deaf girl. Based on facts.

9.The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fford – compared to Hitchhiker in the Galaxy.$16.

10.Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. A hurt Mt. climber builds schools in Afganistan

BCB means it’s a Book Club in a Bag selection.

Branch Meeting April 22: Ulster County Women in Politics

From Anne Gordon, Branch VP for Programs:

Join us on Tuesday, April 22, the topic will be Ulster County Women in Politics. We aren't talking about parties, candidates, or positions, but rather 'women in politics.'

Speakers Jeannette Provenzano, Democrat, long time
member of the UC Legislature (left), and Janine Mower, AAUW member and Republican, involved in town politics in Woodstock (right), will share their experiences and perspective on what it takes for a woman to succeed in politics today.

What: Branch Meeting
When: Tuesday, April 22, 7 pm

Where: Kingston Library

Sex Discrimination in Pay: Schuster v. Berea College

Claire Schuster was the guest speaker at the 4/26/08 LAF Luncheon at the AAUW NYS Convention in Cooperstown, NY.

Claire Schuster, a tenured Associate Professor of Nursing at Berea College, sued the institution for sex discrimination in pay in violation of the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract.

Claire Schuster began working at Berea College in 1995 as an Assistant Professor. In Spring 2001, she was awarded tenure, and in the spring of 2002, she was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor. In May 2002, she received a letter informing her that her salary for the next academic year would be $47,000, which included a salary increase associated with her promotion to the rank of associate professor. The letter included a chart comparing the average salaries of faculty at Berea with those of other similar institutions.

Schuster’s salary, according to this chart, was $5,000 less than the average for other Berea professors at her rank and only $600 more than the lowest salary within that salary range. At the same time, Schuster learned that the all-female nursing department had hired its first male faculty member at a salary that exceeded the salaries paid to female nursing faculty members, and that he had been hired directly into the associate level.

Believe it or not, this “game playing” with rank and salary grades is still going on, seventeen years after I left the business world. I was startled to read the facts of Claire Schuster’s case as they are similar in every way to my working experience in the corporate world. Only difference mine happened 17 years ago, hers happened in 2006.

Are we not making any progress?

The answer to that question is Yes, Yes, Yes!!!! Nothing compares to the “light of day” on the practices of pay discrimination against women. We must support these heroic women who become litigants in suits against the universities and colleges. Come to convention, meet Claire Schuster and donate to LAF so that we can continue to shed light on the situation of pay discrimination.

Not 'Just'; a Homemaker -- Gloria Steinem Pay Equity Day

From Ruth Wahtera:

April 2nd is Gloria Steinem Pay Equity Day in Albany. I've been bothered lately by several discussions where younger women devalue 'cranky old feminists' like me. I've felt that we haven't done well in transferring our experience, our views, or our agenda.

I came across this blog posting which I think proves my point.
The moms that read this blog were amazed and delighted that Gloria Steinem had this to say about stay-at-home moms. They thought that 'cranky old feminists' took the position that all women should work outside the home.

I guess we have some work to do.

Mom-101: Ask (Gloria Steinem) and Ye Shall Receive
How does a stay-at-home mother espouse feminist values to her own children without diminishing the legitimacy of her own decision?

Her [Gloria Steinem's] answer, verbatim:

The goal of feminism is to honor and value all productive human work and open it up to everyone -- including work that has been devalued because women, the de-valued half of the species, do it. To say that homemakers “don’t work” is a form of semantic slavery.

Actually, homemakers work longer hours, for less pay, under worse conditions (more violence, depression, drug and alcohol addiction etc.) -- and less security (more probability of being replaced by a younger worker!) -- than any other class of workers in the country. So we can help a lot if
  1. we never say “I don’t work,” but rather “I work at home;”
  2. never put “just” in front of homemaker;
  3. expect and require men to be homemakers and nurturers, too, whether that means husbands who cook, or sons who do their own laundry, or single moms who find male baby sitters and “mannies” so their kids grow up knowing that males can be as loving and nurturing as females -- just as women can be as accomplished outside the home as men.
If you decide to go back or into the paid labor force after your kids are more on their own, you could turn your homemaking life into a business-style resume: for example, you contracted for services, ran a budget, socialized new humans, did volunteer work that was a job in itself – whatever. We can do all that as individuals.

As a movement, we can also pass legislation to attribute an economic value to care giving at replacement level (whether care giving is raising children, talking care of elderly parents, AIDS patients; whatever), make this amount tax deductible in a household that pays taxes, or tax refundable in households too poor to pay taxes (thus substituting for the disaster of welfare reform). This Caregivers Tax Credit unifies the so-called soccer mom and the welfare mom because both benefit. You can find out more about this legislation, which just expands the refundability principle we won in the Child Tax Credit – though a lot of people don’t know they’re eligible; you should publicize that – to care giving. The website for the tax-credit campaign is

For the global and economic implications of valuing what women do – a third of the productive work in developed countries and 2/3 in agricultural countries where women also grow much of the food their families eat – plus attributing economic value to the environment, you can see “Revaluing Economics,” an essay I wrote in Moving Beyond Words. Or you can find still more in If Women Counted by Marilyn Waring.

This post isn't about passing the pay equity legislation, but I think it captures the spirit of the issue. I encourage you to share it with young women you know.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

AAUW Trip: Washington, DC April 25 - 28

Late April! The perfect time to explore Washington. And, we've arranged to take you right to the door of each place we visit.

Whether you've been to Washington a thousand times or this is your first trip, you'll enjoy visiting these sites without the hassle of driving, parking, cabs, or subway.

Guided Sightseeing Tour includes:

* Arlington Cemetery with Tourmobile * National Cathedral * Union Station * National Archives * Embassy Row * Vietnam Memorial * World War II Memorial * Women in the Military Memorial * Tour of Capitol Hill & White House Visitor's Center * Famous Monuments, including FDR Monument * Smithsonian Institution * Holocaust Memorial Museum*

* 3 Nights lodging * 3 Breakfasts * 3 Full course dinners* Luggage handling * Souvenir gift*

Cost: $429.00 per person, double occupancy

Add $99.00 for single occupancy

Photo by WallyG


All trips leave from the rear of the former Ames in the Kingston Plaza

New! AAUW members receive an additional discount which may vary by trip. Be sure to request the discount when you reserve your place.

Cancellation Policy: No refunds unless KAAUW cancels the trip. If you find you cannot attend you may arrange for someone else to take your spot. Let us know in case there is a waiting list.

We can provide information about trip insurance you can arrange privately. KAAUW does not offer or endorse this product.

For more information and reservations, write or call Garnette at 845-704-2120. Checks, made out to the AAUW–Kingston Branch, may be sent to Garnette Arledge, PO Box 14, Glenford, NY 12443

To make your reservation on-line click here.

Open to non-members, so bring your friends

HOPE's Fund Presentation at AAUW Branch Meeting

Last fall, 2007, the United Way gathered representatives from Ulster County community service organizations. They wanted to learn what barriers exist for Ulster County women working to achieve self-sufficiency. The participants agreed without a doubt, the most critical barriers are lack of personal support and financial assistance.

HOPE's Fund was born in response to those needs.

At our March AAUW Branch meeting, Stacey Rein, Executive Director of the United Way of Ulster County, shared the plans for HOPE's Fund and HOPE's Projects.

stands for Help, Opportunity, Passion, and Empowerment. The Fund will raise money. HOPE's Projects will organize and provide services. The first services, mentoring for women in transition, will begin in September.

Rein explained that many women who have had a crisis -- financial, emotional, medical, relationship -- often find the immediate support to resolve their crisis from existing public and private agencies. The challenge comes as a woman moves through the transition from crisis to stabilization. They're vulnerable to relapse and often isolated. Often, a well-matched mentor may be able to offer advice, guidance, or some stress-relief at just the right time.

In addition, relatively small financial needs may stand in the way of progress. Things like car repairs, a first, last, and security deposit for an apartment, or appropriate clothes for a job may be beyond a woman's resources.

HOPE's Projects will recruit, screen and match mentors and 'apprentices.' A mentor will spend time each week with the apprentice -- a cup of coffee and conversation, a telephone call, maybe attending a local event. Each mentor/apprentice match will also have access to some funds to alleviate those rough patches.

A mentor might be matched based on the apprentice's professional aspirations, age of her children, hobbies or special interests, or the particular challenges she faces. A mentor is not a therapist or counselor, though. The planners are carefully defining roles and boundaries for both the apprentice and the mentor.

To fund this and other programs in the wings, HOPE's Fund has
goals to recruit 500 members and raise $50,000 in Hope's Fund's first year.

Want to support HOPE's Fund? You can volunteer to work on one of four committees: governance, special events, allocations or membership. Or join by send a donation payable to HOPE's Fund, c/o United Way of Ulster County.
"Share the excitement that comes from working with women to help women!"

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sharing a New Zealand Adventure

From ViVi Hlavsa:
For most of February, I was in New Zealand and Australia with Elderhostel. As usual, they had fine resource people who led us into the mysteries of the geology of the area, the Maori culture, the Aborigines, and the founding of the two countries.

They're very different:
New Zealand
is not only divided north and south into two islands, it's also divided east and west, resting on two tectonic plates, with the Pacific Plate jamming into the Australian and moving laterally as well. That's why the country is one of the most volcanic areas in the world. The first picture is of some beautiful hot springs.

The Australian continent, on the other hand, is quite stable. The oldest land-mass in the world, it once belonging to the collection of continents called Gondwanaland, which included the Antarctic, Africa, South America and India (before it went racing north and created the Himalayas).

Maoris are also quite different from Aborigines.
They emigrated originally from Taiwan and, since the New Zealand "bush" is virtually impenetrable, they would burn out coastal settlements, keeping their territories by war (image 2, a Maori "greeting"), so when the Europeans arrived in the early 1800's, they were not easily conquered.

The Aborigines were a nomadic people. When the Europeans arrived there in the late 1700's, they did not feel the need to defend their territories. Moreover, the New Zealanders love to note that they were not settled by convicts! Today, New Zealand is a bi-cultural country--two official languages.

In Australia, the struggle to integrate the two cultures has been more painful. I happened to be in Melbourne when they had their "Sorry Day," apologizing for tearing mixed breed children from their parents to "save" them with Western-style education. It was very moving.

All-in-all, it was a great trip, highly recommended. I especially enjoyed my 14 days on the sea,entering the coastal cities. I've included a picture from New Zealand's Napier--a town destroyed by earthquake in the early 30's, rebuilt in the style of the day--Art Deco (image 3), and a picture of one of the fjords we entered on New Zealand's South Island (image 4). The famous Sydney Opera House, where I heard a splendid La Boheme! (image 5). Finally, here's a picture of me wearing a boa (image 6) -- ViVi

We invite branch members to share the highlights of their trips with the rest of us. Then we'll know who to call when we want recommendations on what to see and do!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Introducing Girls to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Tracy Sherman, AAUW Dialog, posted about her visit to AAUW Buffalo's Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) day for 6th to 9th grade girls and their parents. What a great event! Perhaps we should plan something similar here.

Girls and STEM Education «
Throughout the day, more than 350 girls at Tech Savvy attended workshops where they learned about careers in dentistry, veterinary medicine, and nursing, as well as those with the FBI and NASA. While the girls were at these sessions, more than 200 parents learned about barriers girls face in these fields, how to encourage their daughters to enter these fields, legislation to diversify STEM fields, and how to prepare for college. The day closed with a keynote address by Camille Alleyne, an aerospace engineer at NASA and the founder and president of the Brightest Stars Foundation, an organization whose mission is to educate and empower young women to be future leaders in STEM. Hearing Camille’s life story of dreaming big and believing in herself inspired these girls to believe that they can — and will — be the next generation of scientists, engineers, computer scientists, and mathematicians.
Photo of Jerrie Cobb next to a Mercury spaceship capsule from NASA public domain photos.

Since this is Women in History month, some history is in order:

Jerrie Cobb, already an accomplished pilot and on her way to being one of the world's best, became the first American woman to pass all three phases of NASA testing. Dr. Randy Lovelace, a NASA scientist who had conducted the official Mercury program physicals, administered the tests at his private clinic without official NASA sanction.

Cobb passed all the training exercises, ranking in the top 2 percent of all astronaut candidates. The results were announced in 1960 at a conference in Stockholm, Sweden. Lovelace and Cobb, financed by the world-renowned aviatrix Jacqueline Cochran, recruited more women to take the tests.

All the women who participated in the program, known as First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLAT), were skilled pilots.

Cobb was sworn in as a consultant to NASA Administrator James Webb on the issue of women in space, but mounting political pressure and internal opposition lead the agency to restrict its official astronaut training program to men. After three years, Cobb left NASA for the jungles of the Amazon, where she has spent four decades as a solo pilot delivering food, medicine, and other aid to the indigenous people.

Cobb has received the Amelia Earhart Medal, the Harmon Trophy, the Pioneer Woman Award, the Bishop Wright Air Industry Award, and many other decorations for her tireless years of humanitarian service.

Although these FLAT women never flew in space, they paved the way for female astronauts like Sally Ride, Eileen Collins and many others that now support the U.S. Space Program.

Update 3/24/08 - I received this comment this morning:
This is a wonderful story you posted about Jerrie Cobb and the American Association of University Women.

Please see Jerrie's biography on our web site. She is still flying and doing marvelous things.

Check the web site: and check the 1999 calendar where her story is posted.

Happy Easter

Carol L. Osborne, Aviation Historian

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Support the Prevention First Act

Last Tuesday, the CDC released new data estimating that one in four young women between the ages of 14 and 19 in the United States-over 3 million girls-is infected with at least one of the four most common sexually transmitted diseases.

Currently, there are three separate federal programs that fund abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, but no federal funding exists specifically for comprehensive sex education. States can only receive funding if they agree to teach abstinence-only-until-marriage while excluding information about the health benefits of contraception to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

The Prevention First Act includes a comprehensive approach to sex education - age appropriate education that promotes abstinence but includes information about contraception.

Take Action!

To read more about this issue and thank Senators Schumer and Clinton for cosponsoring and supporting the Prevention First Act, just click on this "Take Action" link. (If you live outside NY, enter your zip code and the message can be tailored for your senators.)

Problem with the link? You can copy and paste the following URL into your Internet browser:

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Reaching Out to College Students

The Riverside California Branch has a new blog. Yesterday they posted about their new partnership with a local college organization. That seems like a great approach for introducing young people to AAUW. Maybe it's one we can use here.

Riverside Branch: Partnership with La Sierra University
Partnership with La Sierra University

We WILL be partnering with La Sierra University. To start with, we will partner with the La Sierra program, Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE). Those who attended the January Branch meeting will remember how dynamic the SIFE program was. [Read More]

Monday, March 10, 2008

Miss Pettigrew and Pay Equity

Do you read Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster especially Howard’s End, Jane Austen and enjoy the film Cold Comfort Farm?

If your response to the above list is positive, read on. And go see Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, now playing in Woodstock. The main character reminds me of the AAUW mission, spirit and spunk. The underlying theme relates to our recent telephone conference call on Pay Equity – something only distantly addressed in the ‘merry romp’ as the Washington Post critic called it. Neither of the women character’s have economic safety nets, hence their desperation as well as their wiles.

Click here for a cheeky review anti-ageist although it means to be cute. Read it, if I haven’t convinced you that you might enjoy this bittersweet comedy on the last few moments before Hitler’s Blitz. Somehow we leave the cinema knowing Miss Pettigrew and her ilk will triumph over inequities, as we will in this epoch as well.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

March Book Club Selection: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

This Book Club in a Bag novel by Lisa See is set in 19th century China and tells of the friendship of two school girls.

Reading Group Guides says:
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a brilliantly realistic journey back to an era of Chinese history that is as deeply moving as it is sorrowful. With the period detail and deep resonance of Memoirs of a Geisha, this lyrical and emotionally charged novel delves into one of the most mysterious of human relationships: female friendship.

We hope you'll join us.

When: Tuesday, March 18th, 1pm

Where: Kingston Area Library

Feb. Branch meeting on pay equity - as scheduled!

On Tuesday, Feb. 26th, a handful of intrepid AAUW members defeated yet another blizzard to participate in our first branch meeting by conference call.

Our February program, Pay Equity Status Report, a presentation by Lois Haignere, Ph.D., had already been rescheduled once due to snow. Determination can make many things happen. We met despite the snow via conference call.

Lois is a respected researcher in pay equity issues. Some of the points she made:
  • There's a significant difference between equal pay and comparable pay.
  • In the private sector you can be fired for disclosing your pay to others, so there's often no way to know whether you are paid unequally; the 2007 Supreme Court decision made it virtually impossible to bring a successful private sector suit.
  • In NYS, the existing law covers only equal pay.
  • To correct this, in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007, the NYS Assembly has passed the NYS Fair Pay Bill with bi-partisan support and great fanfare
  • Every year the NYS Senate kills the NYS Fair Pay Bill in committee.
This year a broad based coalition of women's groups, including AAUW, are committed to getting the bill out of committee. This call/branch meeting was a prelude to Pay Equity Day in Albany on April 2, featuring Gloria Steinem and others who will join with us to lobby the State Legislature on the upcoming vote for pay equity.

You can download a pdf of Lois' slides here.

Women and minorities have long received lower pay than their counterpart males. According to recent research by national AAUW, women now earn 77 cents to every one dollar men earn, yet do not pay correspondingly less at the cash registers. This year, the focus for Pay Equity Day in Albany will be on improving the lot of librarians and library aides, teachers' aides, nursing aides and food service workers -- often women, often supporting families and children.

This free program is open to the public. Donations will be accepted to provide scholarships for those wishing to join the lobbying in Albany on Wed., April 2. For more information, contact AAUW Kingston Branch President Garnette Arledge (845-702-2120,