Friday, February 20, 2009

Where Are All the Women?

AAUW Dialog has an interesting post about women in engineering. This is a good, lucrative career interested in recruiting more women. There are good scholarship resources available. Pass the link on the the young girls in your life.

Where Are All the Women? � AAUW Dialog: "In 2007, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that women made up only 13.5 percent of the engineering workforce, more in some fields like chemical engineering and less in other fields like mechanical engineering.

Why is this? As AAUW reported in Where the Girls Are: The Facts about Gender Equity in Education, girls earn higher grades on average than boys in high school, even in math and science classes. But research shows that even very capable girls are less likely to express interest in an engineering career than are boys. In one study of mathematically gifted individuals, David Lubinski and Camilla Persson Benbow found that women were more likely to secure degrees in the humanities, life sciences, and social sciences than in mathematics, computer science, engineering, or the physical sciences; the reverse was true for men. Jacquleynne S. Eccles’ suggests that part of the reason for this difference is that women are more likely than men to want people-oriented jobs that provide direct benefits to society.

Engineers design pretty much everything we use from computers and cars to diapers and dishwashers. When women aren’t involved in the design of these products, women’s perspectives are not brought to the design table (or computer screen)."
Read more of the post. You'll find links to videos about young women engineers and to resources for programs to interest girls in careers in engineering.
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Lever Update: Dutchess County Considering Suit

Joel Tyner has asked for support. He wants us to write letters to the Dutchess County Legislators. The resolution has many "whereas" clauses, but here's the Resolved and a link to read the whole resolution.

Save NY's Lever Voting Machines: "RESOLVED, that the Dutchess County Legislature form a bipartisan committee to consider joining the lawsuit being developed by the Election Transparency Coalition of New York, and urging other counties to join the effort, as is now under consideration in Nassau County,"

Here's the Citizen Speak address where you can tailor and send a letter to the Dutchess County Legislators. Or, send your own letter to
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

LWVUS Voting System Standards never were intended to apply to lever voting machines

League of Women Voters LogoImage via Wikipedia

At Kingston AAUW we've been concerned about being at odds with the League of Women Voters over their position in favor of optical scanners over lever machines. These are people we usually collaborate with. It's like a family feud.

This morning I came across this statement posted on the Internet by Teresa Alice Hommel on February 12th, 2009. She is commenting on the paper published by New Yorkers for Verified Voting and the League of Women Voters of New York State in opposition to lever machines.

Teresa worked to write and pass the LWV national position in 2004 and 2006. She states the following:
LWVUS Voting System Standards never were intended to apply to lever voting machines: "

However, the League’s standards that the paper quotes are an out-of-context portion of the League’s position--which I worked to write and get adopted--that was never intended to be applied to non-computerized voting technology.
As a member of the group that worked to wean the League of Women Voters of the United States away from paperless DREs, I attest that no one foresaw or intended that the 2006 position would be applied to non-electronic voting systems such as mechanical lever machines."
Her statement tracks the history of the LWV efforts to unify against DRE's by developing standards for "electronic" voting systems. Unfortunately, they left out the word "electronic."

I encourage you to read her statement directly.
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Workplace Stalking Case Update

AAUW has been following harrassment and stalking suits in the workplace. This month, Dawn Martin has requested a re-hearing before the Supreme Court in her case Martin v. Howard.

Here's an update and a link to a fascinating interview (streaming video) with Dawn, Derek Bell, and others supporting her case on Insider Exclusive TV.

The case, short version:
Ms. Martin was stalked at Howard Law School where she was on faculty by a deranged homeless man who believed she was the physical embodiment of a fictional woman in a novel by Derek Bell. Howard did not take reasonable steps, or follow its own security procedures, to protect her and refused to renew her teaching contract because, Martin alleges, she asked for on-campus protection.

In 2006, after a trial, the jury agreed with Prof. Martin that harassment did create a “hostile work environment” for her and that Howard did not take reasonable steps to end it; yet, the jury verdict was for Howard. With insufficient legal instruction from the Court, the confused jurors found that the harassment was not based on sex; Prof. Martin’s complaints were not therefore not “protected activity” under Title VII.

The Supreme Court initially declined to review Martin, but nine days later, it decided Crawford v. Crawford which clarified that “protected activity” under Title VII is a question of law for the Court, not a factual question for a jury.

On February 9, 2009, therefore, Ms. Martin filed a motion to supplement her Petition for Rehearing, to include the law set by Crawford. Under Crawford, the jury should never have been required to decide this legal question.

The Supreme Court has never addressed the issue of workplace stalking. The application of “gender profiling” to sexual harassment cases will also set precedent for racial, ethnic, religious groups in profiling harassment cases under Title VII and other EEO statutes.

For more details and links to other cites discussing the case, see
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Kingston Branch Loves NY Lever Machines!

As good as heart can wishImage by harold.lloyd (regicidal) via Flickr

Thank you, Kingston AAUW Branch, for your support on saving NY's lever machines, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Resolution Passed
The Ulster County Legislature passed the resolution on Wednesday, sooner than we thought. We haven't heard yet what happened in Columbia County. Greene County will vote next Tuesday.

Of course, it's not over yet. The NY State legislature must act. But, every county that passes the resolution increases the pressure for the state to reverse ERMA -- the NYS Election Reform and Modernization Act of 2005. And every person who who contacts their state legislator helps build momentum, too.

Results of the Branch Poll
The result of our branch poll: 90.5% in favor of advocating to keep our levers, 4.8% opposed, and 4.8% no opinion. With your support, then, the Kingston Branch will continue to work to keep our lever machines.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Polling for Your Opinion: Lever Voting Machines

Should the Branch advocate to keep our lever machines?

To the Branch Membership:
On Tuesday the Public Policy Committee proposed that the branch advocate for the Ulster County Legislature to pass a resolution, similar to the one passed in Dutchess County last month, to request that the NY State Legislature and Board of Elections "enact laws, rules, and regulations that specifically authorize the continued use of lever-style voting machines."

The Board members present unanimously support the resolution, but because at least one branch member has expressed disagreement, they decided that we should poll the membership.
You'll find a poll at the bottom of this post.

What's the rush?
We understand that the resolution has passed the committee and will be on the floor for a vote soon, but we don't have a date.

What does advocating for passage of this resolution mean?
It means sending an email to our full mailing list asking them to show support by sending a message to legislative leaders(see below); issuing a press release; writing a letter(s) to the editor, and other steps to make the branch position known.

The Pros and Cons

You'll find reference links below supporting each position.

The Public Policy Committee has invested a substantial amount of time investigating this issue. We sponsored a viewing of HBO's Hacking Democracy and a presentation by Andi Novick in December, have discussed it at two meetings, and done a significant amount of reading on the subject. We have concluded that
  • Optical scan and touch screen voting machines can be hacked; to date, no electronic voting system has been able to meet the NY State standards for certification. In fact, testing for certification was suspended in October 2008 because the company contracted to test equipment, SysTest Labs, lost it's Federal certification as a testing lab.
  • The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) does not mandate a statewide switch to electronic voting. NY filed a HAVA plan, accepted by the Federal Court, and implemented it. NYS has met the HAVA requirements.
  • NY's constitution requires that voters be able to see how votes are counted -- paper ballots and lever machines are the only systems that meet these criteria.
  • Costs - this is no time to spend millions of our tax dollars implementing a flawed electronic system when the current system works better. This is a budget cut we can all get behind.
Pro Resource Material:
ReMedia Election Transparency Coalition - Andi Novick's blog

Save NY's Lever Voting Machines - a collection of resources pulled together by Ruth Wahtera

prepared by Rokki Carr:
I've been following the issue pretty closely over the last two years, but it seems appropriate to just set forth the position of "mainstream reformers." Andy Novick is a "fringe" reformer. I have read one of her legal petitions and did not find her arguments persuasive as a matter of law. My recollection is that she "advertised" for amicus support and did not get any. Retaining the levers is not an option under HAVA, and that in order to be compliant (a federal judge now has jurisdiction over the NY situation), anything secure and unhackable with a paper trail should do.

Con Resource Material:
Read the LWV/NYVV statement here:

Read an analysis of HAVA requirements to replace lever machines:

The poll is open until Friday, Feb. 13. This is not a "certified voting machine" so we count on your integrity. You must be a member, and please vote only once.
And, please share your thoughts by clicking on 'comments' below.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Important Reading for All AAUW Members on proposed by-law changes

Letter from New York State President to all members:

I have received an e-mail from Deb Roney, the Pennsylvania AAUW Co-President. It is her intention that the link below (to be copied and pasted into your internet browser window) should be shared with AAUW members across the country. It contains a chart outlining critical issues in the proposed bylaws changes to be voted on in June 2009 at the Association convention. I encourage you to review the chart because it is informative and another method of creating dialogue about this upcoming change. Like us, the Pennsylvania state board has not taken a formal position on the bylaws changes, but wants to supply materials which enable members to have the most controversial proposed changes accessible and succinctly presented.

Please copy and paste the address below which will give you the link to see the Pennsylvania Rationale Chart:

Per my earlier e-mails you should know also that the entire proposed bylaws information is on the Association website in the member center. A link is on the left side of the front page at and your membership number will take you into the member center to review that material and format.

Special thanks to the Pennsylvania leadership for sharing their skills and enriching our work with this chart.


Eileen S. Hartmann
AAUW NYS President

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Save NY State's Lever System

The Kingston AAUW Public Policy Committee is working along with many others in NY State to keep our lever voting machines. NY is the only state that's withstood the push for electronic voting.

Dutchess County's legislature passed a resolution to keep levers in December. Columbia County will be voting on a resolution this week. It's time for Ulster County to act.

We've set up a Citizen Speak message -- it's like a local Two Minute Activist -- for people to let Ulster County Legislature's Chairman Donaldson and County Executive Hein know that we expect them to take action.

There's more info on the Unofficial Passions blog about why levers are better and links to sites with even more. We want to get the word out beyond the branch.

Here's the link to send your message.

Get your friends to send a message, too.
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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Book Club Updates

From Marjorie Regan:

Feb. 17,2009, The Known World by E. P. Jones. Before the Civil War, a black slave buys his freedom and then buys black men to work for him.

March 17, 2009, The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. This heroine in early 20th century New York has no fortune and is unable to find her place in the upper .level of society. Fictional depiction of the rigid class system of the time.

Change: April 21st, 2009 Vivi Hlvasa’s Community Wide Selection : Stories by Andrea Lee

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Leaders from the Past

From Bernie Carpino, Historian:

While reminiscing about AAUW, women often mention other members with whom they worked. Some names came up repeatedly. I’d like to acknowledge a few of them who were still active when I joined in the 70’s.

Frieda Dingeel (President 1945-46) participated in many community organizations. A tireless worker, she became the first woman principal in the Kingston Consolidated School System and designed and supervised the district’s original remedial reading program. June picnics at her camp in Lake Katrine were often mentioned.

Betty LeFever (President 1946-48) was an active member until her death. Dedicated to education, she was instrumental in the establishment of Ulster County Community College. Because of her involvement, AAUW had a study group, which made recommendations.

Helen Ann Robbins (President 1957-59) used her connections to national AAUW to help the local College Women’s Club make the transition to the Association. Many remember her for her scholarly strong opinions and for Book Club Meetings at the Robbins Library.

Adelaide Van Wagenen, although never president of AAUW, was a vital part of the organization. Always quick to volunteer, her enthusiasm was contagious. As membership chair, she enrolled most of the faculty at Chambers School as branch members. Adelaide currently lives in an assisted living facility in Florida.

These are just four women among many who are part of Kingston AAUW’s history. We remember them fondly.

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