Policy Updates

  • The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) declined to investigate at least three cases of discrimination against transgender students on the grounds that such cases are no longer under its jurisdiction.
  • The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on Thursdayrequested a report from the Government Accountability Office on sexual harassment by researchers receiving government funding. The request notes that funding may be terminated at institutions where federal regulations on sexual harassment in education are not followed.

A recent report from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) found that women are still underrepresented in school athletics programs’ staff. Among a number of disappointing statistics, the survey results indicated that just 20 percent of NCAA schools have women as athletic directors.

In Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D-NJ) first official act as governor, he signed an executive order prohibiting state agencies and offices from asking job applicants for their salary history. The order is aimed at combatting the gender pay gap by ensuring salary decisions are based on qualifications and experience, not previous pay.

AAUW members across the country plan to participate in events this weekend to mark the anniversary of last year’s Women’s March on Washington. The 2017 Women’s March was a great experience, and we were thrilled to see so many individuals across the country and around the world take to the streets in support of gender equity. This year’s anniversary will be commemorated in different ways. If you would like to join anniversary activities under the AAUW banner, follow the same guidelines you would when participating in any event—ensure that the event is keeping with AAUW’s Public Policy PrioritiesUse of Name and Logo policynonpartisanship, and policies for collaboration. We look forward to continuing to advance AAUW’s mission in 2018, and encourage branch and state affiliates to continue incorporating advocacy work into their activities.

No Spending Deal as Shutdown Deadline Looms
As of publication time, Congress still has not passed a temporary spending bill, just hours ahead of the midnight deadline that will trigger a government shutdown. The House votedon Thursday night to pass a continuing resolution that would allow the federal government to continue operations until February 16. If the measure receives the necessary 60 votes in the Senate, it will be the third continuing resolution passed since December. The Senate, however, seems unlikely to pass the measure in its current form, as many Senators are adamant that they will not support a temporary spending bill that does not reflect their government spending priorities or include protections for Dreamers.

Marcus Nomination Advances to Senate Floor
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted on Thursday to advance Kenneth Marcus’ nomination to be Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The nomination now moves to the full Senate for a vote. The Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights plays a critical role in ensuring all students have access to an education, and a number of civil rights groupsopposed Marcus’ confirmation to the role. After careful examination of Marcus’ record, AAUW last week urged senators to oppose his nomination, citing failure to agree to fully support and protect Title IX and other civil rights laws. The Committee’s vote was 12-11, along party lines.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States. Research has shown that access to safe and legal reproductive health care, including abortion, fosters self-sufficiency, promotes preventive health care, and protects individuals and their families from the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

But control over one’s reproductive life is also part and parcel to achieving economic autonomy; without reproductive choice, women cannot attain equal pay or opportunity in the workforce. The existing pay gap already hurts women, their families, and the economy. Limiting reproductive choices and access only compounds these issues.

On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we celebrate our freedoms and look to a future in which increased access to critical health care leads to greater economic security and parity for women. But that future is not secure—just this week, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would undermine access to abortion. In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ramped up efforts to expand providers’ ability to refuse access to abortion services, birth control, and other health care; and rescinded guidance explaining that state efforts to block patients’ access to care atPlanned Parenthood health centers violate federal law. AAUW will continue toadvocate for women’s access to reproductive health care, and oppose efforts to restrict it.

*There will be no Washington Update on January 26. Washington Update will resume on February 2 when both chambers of Congress are back in session.*

Are Tuition-Free College Programs Measuring Up?
A new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts examines the spread of tuition-free college and university programs. Over 200 cities and localities provide this type of opportunity, with the first launching in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2005. States are following suit, with 12 offering some sort of free tuition program, and a handful of others providing scholarships for free tuition with additional requirements. However, these programs tend to only cover tuition, leaving students responsible for other costs such as books, transportation, housing, and child care. Thus far, the results are mixed. In Kalamazoo, there are more college graduates than a decade ago, but income inequality is inhibiting equal access. Other states express trouble securing the funding to continue the program.

Strengthening Workplace Protections Against Sexual Harassment and Assault
As we all grapple with the current public reckoning on sexual harassment and assault, lawmakers are increasingly looking for ways to take action and curb the problem. The National Women’s Law Center created a resource outlining necessary changes to the law and highlighting a few states that have good provisions in place already. The guide recommends extending protections to more employees, such as independent contractors and employees of small businesses, strengthening the ability of employees to hold their employers and individual harassers accountable, providing adequate damages, limiting unwanted secrecy, and providing prevention training. Additionally, the guide suggests eliminating the tipped minimum wage. Tipped workers are disproportionately women, and are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.

What is Your Governor Saying about the State of Your State? 
Every year governors across the country offer up their assessments of the state of their respective states. While each one undoubtedly claims, “The state of our state is strong,” it is unfortunately less common for governors to examine the issues that AAUW members prioritize. Check out when your governor is giving their speech, then watch, read, or listen, and take action. Last year AAUW published a roundup of state addresses, and we plan to do it again this year once the majority of governors have spoken. In the meantime, you can plan your own state of the state response—submit an op-ed, write a letter to the editor (LTE), or create your own roundup to publish on your state or branch AAUW website.

State Legislative Sessions are Underway, How’s Your Advocacy Game?
Legislative sessions are in full swing in three-quarters of the states. You may have already identified legislative priorities and the corresponding bills that you will work on, contacted your legislators, or started to plan advocacy events. To further your work, get to know your state and branch public policy chairs, sign up for Action Network and Two-Minute Activist Mobile alerts, and let us know about any upcoming events you’re planning. If you have any questions about how to delve deeper into this work, or just need a refresher, check out AAUW’s Advocacy How-to Guides. From coalition building to holding meetings with elected officials to working with the media, we have you covered.

States Offer Legislative Solutions to the Student Debt Crisis 
Approximately 44 million borrowers in the United States hold about $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loans, and women hold nearly two-thirds of that debt load. Women take on larger student loans than men do, and because of the gender pay gap, they have less disposable income with which to repay their loans after graduation. Many state policymakers are realizing the urgent need to enact reforms and tackle the student debt crisis. Higher Ed Not Debt created a map to track legislative efforts across the country. It focuses on five policy areas: borrower’s rights, for-profit college accountability, immigration and higher education, refunding higher education, and student loan refinancing.

California and Illinois Expand Access to Menstrual Products in Schools
The California and Illinois legislatures passed laws requiring school districts to stock bathrooms with menstrual products, in an effort to keep more students in school. The Illinois law covers any school that serves students in grades 6-12, while the California law is applicable to high schools where at least 40 percent of students meet the federal poverty limit. Several other states are also considering bills that would eliminate sales taxes on menstrual products, arguing that these items are necessities, not luxury goods. Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, and New York already approved such laws. Last year, the federal government began providing pads and tampons to federal prison inmates for free. In addition to recognizing the basic needs of women and girls, these policy advancements help to temper one small component of the gender pay gap by leaving more money in the pockets of women and girls.

Paid Leave Laws and Minimum Wage Hikes Go into Effect on January 1
Many state laws successfully passed in previous legislative sessions are going into effect now that the calendar has turned to 2018. Paid family leave protections—new to New York and expanded in California—began on January 1, while Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington residents now earn paid sick days. With last week’s vote to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R-MD) veto of a paid sick days bill, Maryland workers will also see changes in the coming months. And on April 1, pregnant workers in Massachusetts will have greater access to on-the-job accommodations. Additionally, 18 states instituted minimum wage hikes to start the new year. Many of these increases are incremental bumps toward even higher wages that are gradually taking effect and are much needed in light of a new report from Bloomberg finding that the gap between the earnings of U.S. CEOs and those of average U.S. workers is the widest worldwide.

Both Abortion Restrictions and Proactive Protections Surged in 2017
Last year brought more abortion restrictions in the states than any year since 2013. In total, 19 states adopted 63 new laws restricting access to abortion services. At the same time, many states fought back with 21 states approving 58 measures to expand access to reproductive services, protect reproductive rights, or institute comprehensive sex education. With a significant increase in abortion restrictions since 2011, the Guttmacher Institute now qualifies 6 states as hostile to abortion rights and 23 states as extremely hostile. Approximately 58 percent of American women of reproductive age live in one of those states, while only 30 percent live in a state that has supportive abortion laws on the books.

UPDATE: Courts Weigh-in on Redistricting Cases
Last week, a federal court ruled that North Carolina’s congressional districts had been unconstitutionally drawn to give Republicans a political advantage. The ruling ordered the state legislature to redraw the districts by January 24. This is the first time federal courts found a congressional map, as opposed to a state legislative map, unconstitutional based on partisan gerrymandering. The next day, federal judges in Pennsylvania upheld their state’s congressional districts, finding that the challenge to partisan gerrymandering was not for the courts to decide. The plaintiffs can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The highest court heard arguments in a case out of Wisconsin dealing with similar issues last October. A decision is expected by June.

Bits and Pieces

  • On Wednesday, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and Democracy Forward filed suit on behalf of the NWLC and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement against the Trump administration for its rollback of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) pay data collection. The data collection, which was halted in August, would have provided increased transparency, a vital tool in the fight against the gender and racial pay gaps.
  • A recent study of Ph.D. candidates found that male researchers submit and publish more academic papers than female researchers, even within the same institution and phase of career. The report explored a number of potential reasons for the gap, including differing teaching responsibilities and mentorship opportunities.

The number of hate crimes reported last year rose by 4.6 percent compared to the previous year, according to data released Monday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). AAUW believes everyone has the right to freedom from violence and fear of violence in their homes, schools, workplaces, and communities.

Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first Muslim-American woman to win a medal, announced that Barbie is creating a doll in her likeness. Muhammad’s doll, the first-ever Barbie to wear a hijab, is next in Barbie’s “Shero” line, which celebrates heroic women.

This Membership Appreciation Week, rather than choosing just one state, we want to spotlight all of the amazing activists in communities across the nation! AAUW members across the country hold candidate forumsregister votersmeet with legislatorsdiscuss policy issues in their communitiescall and email their representatives, and do much, much more to advance AAUW’s policy priorities. Members are the core of AAUW’s advocacy strength, and we can’t thank you enough for the hard work that you do. We love celebrating your accomplishments each week inWashington Update, and we hope you’ll continue to let us know about your good work.

AAUW and Dell Release New Report to Improve Gender Equity in Tech
AAUW partnered with Dell to release the Playbook on Best Practices: Gender Equity in Tech on Wednesday. Despite the high demand and earning potential in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers, women make up only one in five engineering and computing graduates. The report aims to help increase equity in the STEM fields by promoting inclusive talent pipelines, fair recruiting strategies, and an unbiased work culture. Employers play a critical role in improving the representation of women in tech, and this playbook equips them with actionable steps for a data-driven approach to promoting gender equity.

Tax Plans Advance; Senate Bill Seeks to Repeal ACA Mandate 
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by a vote of 227-205. The tax plan,proposed by House Republicans just two weeks ago, was only supported by Republican Representatives. All Democrats present and 13 Republicans voted against the bill. The Senate companion bill also advanced, with approval on Thursday by the Senate Finance Committee in a vote along party lines. The updated Senate planincludes a repeal of the individual mandate required by the Affordable Care Act, eliminating the requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance coverage. The two proposals contain a number of differences that must be reconciled before the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could become law.

State Profiles on Sexuality Education 
The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SEICUS) released their 2017 interactive report on sexuality education in the United States. The report includes information about sexuality education in all 50 states, including funding, current state laws, and adolescent sexual health data. Twenty-nine states and Washington, D.C., mandate sexuality education. But abstinence-only-until-marriage programs—often rebranded as “Sexual Risk Avoidance Education”—persist in schools and communities, with 31 states requiring schools to stress abstinence during sexuality education. Only one state requires instruction on consent, two states mandate instruction on sex trafficking, and seven states require culturally appropriate instruction. Meanwhile, seven states specifically require that teachers portray LGBT individuals negatively or prohibit teachers from mentioning the LGBT population.

50-State Student Debt Landscape 
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a 50-state report analyzing over 50,000 student debt complaints. As a group, student loan borrowers hold more than 1.4 trillion dollars of debt. We know that women take on larger student loans than do men. And because of the gender pay gap, they have less disposable income with which to repay their loans after graduation, requiring more time to pay back their student debt. As a result, women hold nearly two-thirds of the outstanding student debt in the United States.

Invite Your Representatives to AAUW EventsAnd Ask Them Questions!
In recent months, many branches have held events with elected officials in attendance. Whether they’re local, state, or federal representatives, inviting elected officials to your events is a great way to build advocacy relationships and raise AAUW’s profile in your community. But, more importantly, it’s also an opportunity to ask them questions about AAUW’s Public Policy Priorities. Get specific—ask them if they support measures toreduce student loan debtcurb campus sexual assault, or increase access to the polls. Or, use AAUW’s state road maps to tell a state legislator about the impact of the gender pay gap on women and families and ask if they’ll support legislative efforts to close it, like banning employers from asking questions about salary history. Don’t miss an opportunity to have a conversation with your representative—when you’ve got them in the room, ask good questions! If you’ve recently hosted an elected official at your branch event, let us know. If not, consider inviting one to speak to your members, and contact our staff so that we can help you strategize about how to make the most of it.

Tools for Advancing State and Local Priorities
AAUW’s Action Network can be a powerful tool for reaching elected officials at all levels of government. Using our online Two-Minute Activist tool, AAUW members and supporters sent tens of thousands of messages to state legislators this past year. In turn, AAUW members helped find co-sponsors for priority bills, influenced votes, and ensured that AAUW’s voice was heard by key decision makers. To become part of this powerful network, sign up here. Then, take your advocacy to the next level by joining Two-Minute Activist Mobile. This exciting new tool allows AAUW to send more timely and targeted communication straight to your cell phone via SMS text messaging. That means we’ll be able to expand and enhance our advocacy for gender equity by providing you with more strategic opportunities to take action when we know doing so will make the difference. To subscribe to Two-Minute Activist Mobile now, text the message “AAUW” to phone number 21333. Now more than ever we need voices speaking truth to power. Urge your friends and family to sign up too!

Cities Notch Victories for LGBT Rights 
Although LGBT rights are in the crosshairs of many state legislatures, along with the federal government, cities are quietly notching wins. A report from the Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federal Institute, found that 68 municipalities earned a perfect 100-point ranking, compared to 60 municipalities last year. At the city level, policy trends include covering transgender-related services in health care plans, expanding anti-discrimination workplace policies, and updating language to add sexual orientation and gender identity protections into existing laws. These local lawmakers are advocating for LGBT-inclusive policies, and succeeding, even with threats to preempt local legislation.

College Promise Programs Spread Across the Country
Increasingly, students are struggling to afford higher education, forcing them to excessively borrow in order to attend college. Research shows that women especially struggle to pay back that debt due, in part, to the gender wage gap. To help, states are taking steps to make higher education more affordable, most notably, through “promise” programs. These initiatives seek to make community college tuition free for segments of the population. In the past year alone, 50 new programs were announced at the community, city, and state levels, with 15 states establishing programs through executive order or legislative action. There are now more than 200 such programs across 41 states. While “promise” programs are a step in the right direction, questions remain about which students will actually be helped, the financial strain on the public institutions, and investment in the additional supports students need to complete their educations, such as books, transportation, child care, and housing.

States Guarantee Birth Control Coverage as Federal Government Rolls Back Requirements 
In October, the Trump administration announced that it would weaken the requirement for employer insurance plans to cover birth control. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), certain preventive health care services are covered without co-pay or cost sharing, including contraception. While there have been exemptions in place for certain groups, the new rules widen those exemptions, allowing nearly any employer to opt out for religious or moral objections. Employees of companies who choose to opt out will have to pay for birth control out of pocket. But as the federal government rolls back requirements, many states are working to ensure that contraception is still accessible. Currently, 28 states have contraceptive equity laws on the books requiring insurance companies to cover contraception. Of those states, eight do not allow employers or insurers to refuse to comply. These state laws were on the books before the announcement to roll back federal coverage, but over the past year, several states worked to strengthen their regulations and bring them in line with the original mandates of the ACA.

UPDATE: Illinois Passes Student Loan Protections, Fails to Enact Equal Pay Bill 
In an early November special session, the Illinois legislature considered overriding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s (R-IL) vetoes of two bills that were backed by AAUW of Illinois. With bipartisan support, the legislature successfully voted to override the veto of a bill that tackles student loan debt. According to AAUW’s report, Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans, this issue increasingly burdens women. The new Illinois law creates aStudent Loan Bill of Rights, ensuring that borrowers receive clear and accurate information, placing requirements on student loan servicers, and incentivizing greater information sharing about repayment options. Unfortunately, the legislature was unable to garner enough votes to override the governor’s veto of AAUW member Rep. Anna Moeller’s (D) equal pay bill. The bill would have prevented employers from screening job applicants based on their prior salary or relying on prior pay while making hiring and compensation decisions. Additionally, the bill would have clarified the reasons employers can use to pay employees differently, and provided more options for relief to make a wronged employee whole.

Sexual Harassment Reported in State Legislatures across the Country
In the wake of national attention on the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace, women in state legislatures across the country are speaking out about their experiences. Many reports describe a pervasive culture of sexual harassment in statehouses, which tend to be male-dominated given that just 25 percent of seats in state legislatures were held by women in 2017. Just this year, sexual harassment was reported in state legislatures in CaliforniaIllinoisIowaKansasMissouriOregonRhode IslandSouthDakotaTennessee, and Vermont, among others. Reports range from harassing comments to rape and sexual assault. In response, some legislators are taking action. A group of female state legislators, led by Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-SC), wrote an op-ed calling for policy change and pointing to concrete proposals to support survivors, hold offenders accountable, and stop harassment and assault before it begins. Others are calling for updated anti-harassment trainings or revamping reporting structures for employee complaints.

2017 State Elections Bring Wins for Diverse Representation and Health Care
With no federal elections on the ballot, state and local races took center stage on Election Day last week. Voters weighed in on everything from gubernatorial races to ballot initiatives to school board races. This year’s elections saw a number of landmark achievements. Maine voters passed the Medicaid Expansion Initiative. Backed by AAUW of Maine, this initiative will increase the number of Mainers covered by the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. New Jersey’s newly elected lieutenant governor, Sheila Oliver (D), is the first black woman to win statewide office in the state, and Hoboken, New Jersey, elected the first Sikh mayor in the state. Many cities also elected women mayors and openly transgender candidates wonseveral races. Additionally, Virginia boasted two firsts in the House of Delegates, electing their first Asian-American woman delegate and their first Latina delegates.

This Tuesday, voters across the country cast their ballots to decide important state and local elections. Leading up to the election, AAUW advocates held candidate forums and registered voters to ensure that everyone in their communities had the knowledge and ability to participate. Many also made their voices heard online, posting on social media using the hashtag #ItsMyVote to share their “I Voted” stickers and remind others to vote.

From the top of the ticket to the bottom of the ballot, it’s vital to make your voice heard. Everyone should be able to participate in elections, but voter suppression tactics and restrictive voting laws often create unnecessary barriers to the ballot box. This week, we even saw reports of misleading phone calls attempting to keep people from voting. AAUW is proud to partner with Election Protection to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to participate in elections, but we need your help. Contact your members of Congress and urge them to take action to protect voting rights!

To create real change, women must be part of the conversation. Election Day may be over, but democracy demands work all year. We know that the AAUW community is up to the challenge! Stay tuned to Action Network andWashington Update for all the ways you can keep working for democracy.

Top Stories

2017 Elections See Wins for Diverse Representation and Health Care
State and local elections took place on November 7, with voters weighing in on everything from gubernatorial races to ballot initiatives to school board races. This year’s elections saw a number of landmark achievements. Maine voters passed the Medicaid Expansion Initiative; backed by AAUW of Maine, this initiative will increase the number of Mainers covered by the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. New Jersey’s newly-elected lieutenant governor, Sheila Oliver (D), is the first black woman to win statewide office in the state. Hoboken, New Jersey, also elected the first Sikh mayor in the state. Many cities also elected woman mayors and openly transgender candidates won several races. Virginia also boasted two firsts in the House of Delegates, electing their first Asian-American woman delegate and their first Latina women delegates.

Congress Continues Work on Tax Plan
This week, Senate Republicans released their version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, one week after House Republicans unveiled their tax bill of the same name. The proposals contain a number of key differences that will have to be reconciled, including changes to the number of tax brackets, the state and local tax deduction, and important education-related credits and deductions. The House continued progress on their bill, advancing it out of committee on a party-line vote. Republican leaders expect a floor vote on the House bill in the coming weeks. The Senate will begin work on their bill in committee on Monday

State Spotlight

AAUW Murfreesboro (TN) Branch sponsored a debate this Thursday about solutions to the gender pay gap. Members of the award-winning Blue Raider Debate Team at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) discussed whether legislation can trigger the social change necessary to close the pay gap. Jennifer Crow, president of the AAUW student organization at MTSU, moderated the debate. Speakers displayed a strong understanding of current equal pay laws; they discussed weaknesses in enforcement and regulation, as well as the need for greater cultural change. Events with student participation are a great way to build relationships and further advocacy on campus — kudos to AAUW Murfreesboro and MTSU!

Cheer of the Week

This Sunday, Olympic medalist Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon since 1977. Flanagan’s unofficial race time was 2 hours, 26 minutes and 53 seconds, a full minute ahead of second-place finisher and defending champion Mary Keitany of Kenya.

Jeer of the Week

The tax bill introduced by House Republicans last week included language that would allow fetuses to qualify for tax-advantaged college savings accounts. The bill refers to fetuses as “unborn children,” language commonly used by anti-choice advocates, and represents part of a dangerous, out-of-touch, and coordinated effort to chip away at abortion access.

Bits and Pieces

  • A study by the American Institute of Physics found that women in physics with PhDs are paid approximately 18 percent less than their male colleagues. A six percent disparity remained after controlling for factors like age and employment sector. Studies and observations attribute that disparity to a number of factors including things like implicit bias and differences in salary negotiation habits.
  • AAUW Board Chair Julia Brown and Chief Executive Officer Kim Churches both spoke to radio programs this week. Brown joined the program Native America Calling to discuss the pay gap for Native American women, while Churches spoke to WFAE’s Charlotte Talks about workplace sexual harassment.

Top Stories

House Republicans Release Tax Plan
U.S. House Republicans released their long-awaited tax bill on Thursday. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act proposes sweeping changes to the current corporate and individual tax system. Among them are problematic provisions for education, including ending tax benefits for student loan borrowers and the elimination of the State and Local Tax (SALT) Deduction, which critics says would make it harder for states and localities to raise the revenue that funds public schools. President Donald Trump has called on Congress to move swiftly, urging the House to pass the bill before Thanksgiving. Stay tuned to Washington Update for more information as this legislation advances and opportunities to make your voice heard.

Sexual Harassment Reported in State Legislatures across the Country
In the wake of national attention to the issue of sexual harassment, women in state legislatures across the country are speaking out about the harassment they’ve experienced at work. Many reports describe a pervasive culture of sexual harassment in statehouses. Just this year, sexual harassment was reported in state legislatures in IllinoisOregonCaliforniaRhode IslandTennesseeMissouriSouth Dakota, and Iowa, among others. The reports range from harassing comments to rape and sexual assault. State politics are heavily male-dominated, with just 25 percent of state legislature seats held by women in 2017. AAUW advocates for equitable work climates free from sexual harassment.

State Spotlight

AAUW Carlisle (PA) Branch recently wrote a letter to the editor of their local newspaper urging local colleges and universities to continue to follow Title IX guidelines that were recently rolled back by the U.S. Department of Education. Letters to the editor are a great way to speak out about the importance of upholding Title IX protections at local schools. This sample letter to the editor can be customized and submitted to a local paper or campus publication. Consider working with your local Title IX Coordinator to co-author a letter!

Cheer of the Week

Girl Scout Alice Paul Tapper wrote a New York Times op-ed encouraging girls to have the confidence to raise their hands in class. Her troop helped launch the “Raise Your Hand” patch, which requires scouts to answer questions in class and recruit at least three other girls who promise to do the same.

Jeer of the Week

The University of Notre Dame announced on Friday it would no longer be providing birth control coverage.The change applies both to employees and to students covered under the university’s health insurance plan.

Bits and Pieces

  • On Monday, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., blocked part of President Trump’s transgender military ban created via presidential memorandum in August. AAUW stands with trans Americans and believes veterans and the military deserve better than the ban’s discriminatory approach.
  • The open enrollment period for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act began this Wednesday and will run through December 15, a shorter period than previous years. The enrollment website, HealthCare.gov, will have maintenance outages most Sundays during this period.
  • More than 4,000 women met in Detroit last weekend for the Women’s Convention, held by the organizers of last January’s Women’s March.
  • A recent study found that junior faculty job committees at an unnamed prestigious research university evaluated “relationship status” as a factor for women candidates, but not for men. The panel allowed assumptions regarding female applicants’ male partners’ willingness to relocate to influence hiring decisions.

Yesterday marked Latina Equal Pay Day, the symbolic day when Hispanic and Latina women’s earnings “catch up” to non-Hispanic white men’s earnings from the previous year. Yes, you read that right—Latina women have to work until November 2, almost a full extra year, to make up the pay lost to the pay gap over the prior year. That’s because Latinas are paid just 54 percent of what non-Hispanic white men are paid.

At AAUW’s HQ office, we “celebrated” Latina Equal Pay Day with a visit from Aileen Rizo, a math educator and equal pay advocate. In 2012, after discovering a male colleague with less experience was being paid more than her, Rizo filed an internal complaint. She was told that her employer based new employees’ salaries on just one factor: the employee’s salary history.

In 2014, Rizo filed suit under the Equal Pay Act and California’s sex discrimination statutes. She’s been fighting since then not just for justice in her own case but to make sure that women are paid fairly. AAUW is proud to support her case through our Legal Advocacy Fund. We’re also working to close the pay gap by fighting underlying factors like salary history requirements at the federal level and in statehouses across the country. Want to make your voice heard for equal pay? Take action today!

Legislative bills 2018 (As of 10.21.17)

OPPOSE HB 41 – Toledo / Pregnancy support and wellness centers Requires DOH to contract with not for profit statewide organizations to provide pregnancy support & wellness services through subcontractors. Subcontract only with providers that exclusively promote and support childbirth. FLNOW wants women to be presented with the full range of reproductive health care, including contraception and safe sex.

SUPPORT HB 71 – Baez, Edwards, Berman, Mercado /Marriage Licenses
Deletes exception for persons under age 18 or age to be issued marriage licenses.
FLNOW supports this Marry@18 Bill / No Exceptions, we need to stop child marriage in Florida.

SUPPORT HB 101 – Baez / Assault on Health Care Providers
Health Care Providers are included in protected jobs, such as fire fighters, police officers, emergency
medical technicians…
FLNOW supports Health Care Providers included in protected jobs category.

SUPPORT HB 335 – Nunez / Marriage of Minors
Prohibits issuance of a marriage license to any person under the age of 18 years.
FLNOW supports this Marry@18 Bill / No Exceptions, we need to stop child marriage in Florida.

SUPPORT HRC 103 – Baez, SCR 264, Gibson / Equal Rights Amendment
Equality of rights under the law shall not be
denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
FLNOW supports the ERA.

SUPPORT SB 140 – Benacquisto, Simpson, Book, Hutson, Perry /Marriage of Minors
Prohibiting marriage of minors, no marriage under 18 / no exceptions
This is the FL Senate companion bill to HB 71.
FLNOW wants to outlaw child marriage in Florida.

OPPOSE SB 208 – Campbell / Marriage of Minors /
Prohibiting minors marrying, except for pregnancy, minors can marry at 16
FLNOW wants only people 18 and older marrying.
Teenage mothers who marry before childbirth are less likely to return to school than teenage mothers who
do not marry. Minors cannot enter into any contracts, why should they be able to marry?

SUPPORT SB 138 – Book / Florida Families First Act – Perinatal Mental Health
DOH to create public service announcements to educate the public on perinatal mental health care and
establishing a hotline providing information about perinatal and postpartum health.
FLNOW recognizes that more public education is needed on perinatal / postpartum issues.

SUPPORT SB 130 Farmer / Marriage Equality
Removing prohibition on recognition of marriages entered between persons of the same sex.
Removing marriage definition of a legal union between one man and one woman.
FLNOW applauds removing “one man / one woman” from the marriage statute and replacing “husband /
wife” with “spouse”.

Legislators Introduce Title IX Protection Act
On October 12, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi along with Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Lois Frankel (D-FL) held a press conference announcing the introduction of the Title IX Protection Act. The proposed legislation would codify Title IX guidance outlined in the Department of Education 2001 Guidance on Title IX and the now rescinded 2014 Questions and Answers document and 2011 Dear Colleague Letter. AAUW Chief Executive Officer Kim Churches spoke at the press conference, joining members of Congress and other advocacy groups in calling to protect Title IX and ensure that all students can attend school free of sex discrimination.

White House Announces Nominee for Head of Office for Civil Rights
This Thursday, the White House announced that Kenneth L. Marcus would be nominated as the next head of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Marcus currently works as the president and general counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, and previously worked in OCR during President George W. Bush’s administration. Pending confirmation, Marcus would fill the role that has been held since April by Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson, who received criticism for her remarks about sexual assault and actions to rescind Title IX guidance. When the nomination was announced, Jackson was participating in a roundtable hosted by the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence. AAUW Interim Vice President of Public Policy and Government Relations Anne Hedgepeth also spoke at the hearing, discussing the importance of creating equitable educational environments free from fear of sexual harassment or violence.

State Spotlight

Many AAUW branches use tabling at events as a way to connect with their communities. AAUW of Virginia recently tabled at “Moving Forward, Together – Impact & Influence,” an annual women’s conference hosted by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). Many members of Congress see AAUW as a resource on these issues and attending events like these are a great way to build those relationships. See where you can plug in with your representatives—after all, successful advocacy is all about connections!

Cheer of the Week

After learning about the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, eleven-year-old Gitanjali Rao invented a cheap, portable, and reliable lead testing kit. Rao, who wants to be either a geneticist or an epidemiologist one day, won “America’s Top Young Scientist” in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her invention.

Jeer of the Week

An external investigation recently found that Washington Lottery Director Bill Hanson discriminated against women employees in his office. Hanson called women managers “criers,” routinely bullied his employees, and prevented women from joining important meetings.

Bits and Pieces

  • In 2017, California, Colorado, Delaware, Nevada, Oregon, Puerto Rico, and a handful of cities passed pay equity legislation. As this year’s legislative sessions end, AAUW reviewed the progress made and where equal pay efforts fell short.
  • This Thursday, the House moved forward with a Senate-passed Fiscal Year 2019 budget that allows for massive tax cuts for wealthy Americans. The resolution passed narrowly, with just 216 votes to 212.
  • A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., ruled this Tuesday that the U.S. government could not prohibit an undocumented pregnant teenager from obtaining an abortion. As a result of the 6-3 ruling, the teen, known as Jane Doe, was able to terminate her pregnancy Wednesday morning.
  • Last Friday, the Trump administration confirmed that the Department of Education would continue to collect civil rights data from schools. The announcement comes after the administration received numerous public comments supporting the data collection initiative.

It’s hard to believe Halloween is just next week! But while spooky stories and decorations may be everywhere, the real scare can be found in the daily inequities women face in the United States.

There’s nothing more frightening than a politician who doesn’t trust a woman to make her own informed choices about her health. And you know what’s a really scary thought? Having to choose between a paycheck and caring for a new child because you don’t have paid family leave.

From persistent pay inequity to student debt’s disproportionate burden on women to rollbacks of Title IX guidance — current statistics reflect a reality far scarier than whatever comes out to haunt on Halloween. But don’t get spooked! There’s a lot you can do to support gender equity.

Stand Up for Equity in Education with GEEA

Congresswoman Patsy Mink (D-HI) forever changed the face of academia and athletics through the passage of Title IX, the federal law that prevents sex discrimination in education. In the 45 years since its enactment, Title IX has expanded opportunities for women and girls from classrooms to playing fields. But despite tremendous progress, inequities and barriers remain.

Now, Congress has the opportunity to further ensure equity in education for all students by enacting the Patsy T. Mink Gender Equity in Education Act of 2017 (GEEA). Click here to urge your representatives to affirm their commitment to Title IX by co-sponsoring GEEA today! 

Building on the legacy of Representative Mink, GEEA would provide resources, training, and technical assistance to support schools in fully implementing Title IX. It would help to reduce and prevent sex discrimination in all areas of education by:

  • Establishing an Office of Gender Equity in the U.S. Department of Education to coordinate activities within the Department and among other federal agencies
  • Supporting the work of thousands of Title IX coordinators by providing annual training and technical assistance
  • Authorizing competitive grants to K-12 schools, colleges, local educational agencies, or states to support their gender equity work

Instances of sex discrimination affect the ability of all students, regardless of gender, to learn. AAUW believes that policies that allow everyone to excel are beneficial for society as a whole. We’re proud of what Title IX has achieved for students—but we can do more.

Urge your members of Congress stand up for equity in education by co-sponsoring GEEA now. 

Core Policy Framework for Infants, Toddlers, and Families
new project from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and ZERO to THREE explores the policies that infants and toddlers need to advance their well-being. The policy roadmap is organized into four categories: health bodies, health minds, and healthy parents; economically stable families; strong parents; and high-quality child care and early education opportunities. Among other ideas, the framework calls for quality, affordable, publicly financed health insurance, paid sick and family leave, developmentally appropriate supports for children, and comprehensive early childhood services.

Geographic Inequality in Access to Abortion Clinics 
As the assault on reproductive rights drags on at both the state and federal level, it is no secret that many laws are making it more difficult to take advantage of basic reproductive services. The Guttmacher Institute examined how physical proximity and geographic factors also impact access to those services. As of 2014, roughly half of reproductive-age women lived within 11 miles of a clinic. But 20 percent of women would have to travel over 43 miles to reach an abortion provider. Unsurprisingly, women and clinics are concentrated in urban areas, leading to great disparities in access, even in the same state. At least half of women in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming would have to travel over 90 miles to reach care, and 20 percent of Alaska women would have to go over 150 miles. With the onslaught of state abortion restrictions between 2011 and 2014, the average distance to the nearest provider substantially increased in several counties, particularly in Iowa, Missouri, Montana, and Texas.

Assessing Voting Access Policies in Your State  
Access to the polls varies by state, with some states making it easy to cast a ballot and others putting up road blocks. Rock the Vote created a policy tracker to understand and assess the policies in each state. The resource covers a range of policies, including types of voter registration, opportunities to vote early or in non-traditional forms, restoring voting rights, voter ID requirements, voting accessibility, and more. Nine states and Washington, D.C. earned the “leader” designation, while twenty states were dubbed “blockers.” These policies are especially important to assess as data emerges regarding turnout among young voters. A Tufts University report found that voter turnout among college students rose three percentage points in 2016 compared to 2012. However, a closer look at that data reveals that turnout was segmented by race with increases for white, Hispanic, and Asian students, but decreases among black students. At historically black colleges and universities, turnout actually dropped by more than 10 points. But at women’s colleges it rose by 7.3 percentage points.

Rhode Island and California Expand Paid Leave Programs 
Lawmakers in Rhode Island and California expanded their existing paid leave programs this legislative session. Rhode Islanders will now be able to take paid sick or safe leave to care for themselves or a loved one. The law is expected to cover nearly 60 percent of workers in the state who did not already have access to the benefit. It will be phased in over three years, with employees eventually earning five sick days per year. California also expanded a leave program, increasing the number of workers eligible to receive paid parental leave. Now 2.7 million more California employees will have access to 12 weeks of job-protected parental leave. AAUW of California members advocated for the bill and helped it across the finish line by urging Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) to sign it into law.

States Protect Abortion Access through Coverage Guarantees 
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill into law authorizing state health insurance and Medicaid coverage for abortions. All Illinois women will now have access to abortion services regardless of their income. Additionally, the law repeals language from a 1975 law that would have criminalized abortion in the state if Roe v. Wade were ever overturned. AAUW of Illinois members and supporters contributed to this legislative victory by contacting the governor to urge him to sign the bill. Illinois becomes the third state this year to take such action, joining Oregon and New York. In August, Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR) signed a bill expanding insurance coverage for those seeking an abortion in Oregon, and in January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) took regulatory action to ensure broad coverage for the service.

UPDATE: California Governor Vetoes Important Title IX Guidance Bill
In the last issue of AAUW in the Statehouse, we reported on the efforts of AAUW of California and state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D) to pass a bill that would help to prevent and end sex discrimination in our schools. The bill would have enshrined protections similar to those laid out in the U.S. Department of Education’s 2011 Dear Colleague Letter on Title IX and sexual violence. Despite passing both chambers of the California legislature and earning support from a variety of stakeholders, at the last minute Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) vetoed the bill.

Redistricting in the Courts, Statehouses, and Your Own Backyard
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, a case challenging partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin. Gerrymandering – the practice of drawing electoral district lines to benefit one political party – poses serious problems for our democracy. In jurisdictions nationwide legislators have drawn maps that allow them to choose their voters rather than enabling voters to choose their representatives, a reversal that undermines the concept of fair representation. Poorly drawn or purposefully unfair electoral district lines can threaten this ideal. With the 2020 census looming, many judges, legislators, and advocates are taking a hard look at their electoral district boundaries.Redistricting litigation is pending in eight states, with three cases on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court; three-quarters of states introduced some sort of redistricting reform bill during the 2017 legislation session; and advocates are mobilizing to champion meaningful action across the country. Want to tackle redistricting reform in your state? There are many creative and informative resources available to help get you get started.Read more about the issue here, check out the status of redistricting reform legislation in your state, get to know AAUW’s how-to advocacy guides for strategic tactical advice, andcontact our staff so that we can support your efforts.

The State of Equal Pay as 2017 Legislative Sessions Conclude
With most state legislative sessions winding down, now is a good time to look back at our accomplishments this year. In 2015 and 2016 dozens of legislatures proposed and enacted bills and laws addressing pay inequality, but in 2017 a whopping 42 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C., offered legislative solutions to the gender pay gap. While not all of these bills passed, this growing activity shows that red, blue, and purple states realize that the pay gap is real and that something needs to be done about it. In 2017 AAUW members actively worked to pass strong pay equity legislation across the country and we were successful in five states – CaliforniaColoradoDelawareNevada, and Oregon – plus Puerto Rico. Disappointingly, we were close to tallying additional wins in MaineNevada, and New Jersey if governors in those states had not vetoed equal pay bills. Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-IL) also vetoed an equal pay bill in Illinois, which was sponsored by AAUW member Rep. Anna Moeller (D). AAUW of Illinois and coalition partners are currently engaging in a campaign to encourage their legislators to override the governor’s veto during the special session in late October. Read more about all of these efforts in our 2017 state equal pay round-up.

Each October, we recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). While strides have been made to end domestic violence, it remains all too prevalent. AAUW is particularly focused on ending the domestic violence that students experience and Title IX has an important role to play. Survivors should have the support of their campusTitle IX coordinators as well as a myriad of possible accommodations and community resources.

In addition, thanks to the advocacy of AAUW members, when the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) passed, it included updates to the Clery Act, which now requires schools to report the number of dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking incidents on campus, in addition to long standing requirements to report the number of sexual assaults. In this year’s data release, reporting on 2015, most campuses did not disclose any reported incidents — which simply does not square with research, campus climate surveys, and widespread experiences reported by students. Moving forward, colleges and universities must learn more about dating violence and domestic violence — the students they serve are experiencing it every day and schools can and must play a key role in addressing it.

You can join DVAM activities online this month and share AAUW’s resources on campus sexual violence.

If you recognize yourself or someone you love as being a victim of domestic or dating violence, know that there is help and support available through the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).

*There will be no Washington Update on October 13. Washington Update will resume on October 27 when both chambers of Congress are back in session.*

Top Stories

Trump Administration Announces Broad Rollback of ACA Birth Control Mandate
The Trump administration announced today that it would weaken the requirement for employer insurance plans to cover birth control. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), certain preventive health care services are covered without co-pay or cost sharing. Contraception was included in this coverage, with exemptions for certain groups, including houses of worship. Today’s announcement widens these exemption rules, allowing nearly any employer to opt out for religious or moral objections. Employees of companies who choose to opt out will have to pay for birth control out of pocket. AAUW strongly supported this coverage requirement and opposes the announced changes.

House Republicans Pass 20-Week Abortion Ban 
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed an antichoice bill that would limit women’s access to abortion care with inadequate and extremely narrow exceptions. H.R. 36, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), passed in a party line vote of 237-189. On Friday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the bill into to the Senate with 45 Republican cosponsors. While the bill is unlikely to gain the 60 votes it would need in the Senate, its passage in the House represents one part of a larger agenda to restrict access to reproductive health services. AAUW opposed the bill and firmly supports choice in the determination of one’s reproductive life and increased access to health care and family planning services.

Supreme Court Hears Partisan Gerrymandering Case
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in Gill v. Whitford, a case that may limit the practice of drawing electoral district lines to benefit one political party. The case centers on Wisconsin, where in 2012 reshaped districts resulted in a supermajority for Republicans in the state legislature, despite Democrats winning the majority of votes in the state. Gill v. Whitford proposes use of the “ efficiency gap,” a new measure for determining the discriminatory effect of distorted districts. AAUW advocates for equitable political participation and representation, and believes poorly drawn or purposefully unfair electoral district lines threaten these ideals.

Urge Congress to Pass the Dream Act of 2017

For the past five years, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has provided nearly 800,000 recipients the ability to attend school, go to work, and contribute to our economy without fear of deportation. But with a simple swipe of the pen, President Trump has moved toward ending the DACA program, taking with it the opportunity for thousands of immigrants to achieve the American Dream.

AAUW is proud to be part of a community that fights for the civil rights of all Americans. That’s why we’re joining with thousands of civil rights advocates this week to urge Congress to stand up for Dreamers and DACA recipients by passing the Dream Act of 2017 without amendement.

Join us by urging your members of Congress to take action!

The Dream Act of 2017 is a bipartisan bill that would provide a path to legal status for undocumented young individuals who came here before the age of 18 and who graduate from U.S. high schools and attend college, enter the workforce, or enlist in a military program. The impact of this legislation has the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of immigrants across the country, specifically providing immigrant women and girls with the educational and career opportunities that generations of Americans have relied on to achieve economic prosperity.

The ball is now in Congress’s court and they must act quickly.

Send a message to your members of Congress now and urge them to stand up for young immigrants by passing the Dream Act of 2017 without amendment.

Gender Pay Gap Stubbornly Stuck at 20 Cents
Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau released new data on the gender and racial pay gaps. AAUW’s analysis indicates that women working full time on average still make 80 cents compared to every dollar men make. At the current rate of progress in closing the gap, women will not receive pay equity until the year 2119. At the state level, New York leads the way with an 89 percent earnings ratio between men and women, while Utah and Louisiana have the largest gaps at 70 percent. To learn more about the factors that contribute to this pervasive gender pay gap, check out AAUW’s seminal report, The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap. Additionally, our state-specific roadmapsexamine the gender pay gap in every state and Congressional district, and provide analysis of each state’s laws and recommendations to address the pay gap.

State Legislatures and Courts Tackle Redistricting
As we inch toward the next U.S. Census in 2020 and the redrawing of electoral districts across the country, state legislatures and courts are busy working to figure out what the rules are and what they want them to be. There is currently redistricting litigation pending in eight states, with three cases on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are untangling issues around partisan gerrymandering, while Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia are dealing with racial gerrymandering challenges. On the legislative side, over three-quarters of states have introduced bills to tackle redistricting, many with support from AAUW members. Specifically, AAUW of Pennsylvania developed an advocacy-in-a-box tool to advance their work and ensure the next state map has fair district lines.

School Funding Round Up
With the school year underway, two states are still operating without finalized budgets. As Connecticut awaits Gov. Dan Malloy’s (D) signature to finalize the budget, the state continues to operate under a gubernatorial executive order. Wisconsin is similarly waiting on Gov. Scott Walker (R) to sign off, and is operating under statutory budget authority until that time. Pennsylvania passed a budget that Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed into law, but the legislature is still considering a revenue package. Meanwhile, ConnecticutKansas, and Washington are all grappling with school funding lawsuits winding their way through the courts. All of this adds up to uncertainty for schools.

Illinois, which faced a menacing budget impasse for years, finally passed a bill that included a new education funding formula. While the formula aims to send more money to poorer districts and gives Chicago Public Schools $450 million, it also includes a provision establishing Education Savings Accounts, another name for a voucher program.

States See Uptick in Legislation Addressing Campus Sexual Violence
Over the past three years, state policymakers increasingly worked to tackle campus sexual violence through legislation. In both 2015 and 2016, state legislatures introduced 30 bills on the issue, but in 2017 that number skyrocketed with 53 bills introduced. Enactment rates stayed fairly consistent with 8-10 bills signed into law every session. Texas proved to be a leader in 2017, passing two bills with the support of AAUW of Texas. One bill requires institutions of higher education to adopt a sexual assault policy, and provide an electronic way for students and employees to report sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, or stalking. The other bill establishes that postsecondary institutions must provide amnesty to students who report incidents of sexual assault, and creates an advisory committee which submits recommendations for implementing the bill.

California Works to Bolster Title IX Protections for Students
Earlier this month, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department of Education would be reviewing Title IX regulations and guidance, including rescinding a 2011 Dear Colleague Letter on Title IX and sexual violence that aims to prevent and end discrimination in our schools. California State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D), backed by AAUW of California members, is championing a bill that would enshrine protections similar to those laid out in the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter into law. The bill passed both chambers of the California legislature and awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) signature. Other states looking to stand with survivors and vigorously enforce Title IX should consider advocating for similar legislation in their own statehouses.

States Continue to Chart the Course on Paid Leave Programs
This past summer, Washington passed a bipartisan paid leave bill, joining California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, and Washington, D.C., in putting a state-wide system into place. The law, which AAUW of Washington supported, offers eligible employees 12 weeks of paid, job-protected leave. As more states tackle this issue, policymakers will benefit from learning about the new and different ways to run a state-wide paid leave program. Specifically, the Washington program is breaking new ground in some important ways. Washington does not have a temporary disability insurance program, meaning the state is building an entirely new administrative architecture to manage the program. Additionally, the coverage is expansive:

  • Low income workers receive a proportionately higher wage replacement rate than higher wage earners to make leave more accessible to all.
  • The program allows for 12 weeks of leave for many reasons including parental, caretaker, exigency, or personal medical reasons.
  • Most employees enjoy job protections.
  • All Washington state businesses, including state and local governments, must provide these benefits.

Other states and the federal government would be wise to watch and learn from Washington’s implementation of this program.

What Were the Top Legislative Issues of 2017?
A new rundown of the top legislative issues in 2017 shows economic policies dominating the landscape in multiple statehouses this past year. Use this information to figure out which issues are hot and which legislators like to work on them, then tailor your upcoming activities for 2018 to those insights. Does your statehouse tend to concentrate on economic issues? Focus on equal pay, paid leave, and strengthening retirement provisions. Do your elected officials prefer health care matters? Work to expand reproductive rights. How about education? We have a lot of suggestions in that realm – expanding STEM education, curbing campus sexual assault, and supporting the strong implementation of Title IX protections. AAUW quick facts and resources like our state equal pay roadmaps are excellent tools to disseminate when talking with legislators about issues that matter to you.

Elections Performance Index Shows How Your State Stacks Up
The Elections Performance Index, a resource from the PEW Charitable Trusts, provides an interactive overview of election administration in all 50 states. The tool offers both state indicators and profiles, as well as rankings and comparisons between states. In addition to basic information about how to vote (for example, early, by mail), the index also includes such measures as disability or illness-related voting problems, voter registration rates, vote wait times, and rejected or unreturned ballots. As you gear up for elections in 2017 and 2018, use this information to assess where there may be problematic points in your state’s voting administration.

Poll Shows Limited Support for Private School Vouchers
new poll from Phi Delta Kappa International found that 52 percent of Americans questioned oppose using public funds to send students to private schools. That number increases to 61 percent as the issue is described in more detail. Interestingly, the opposition seems to be based on views regarding the use of public funds; only 21 percent of respondents said that vouchers erode the quality of public schools. Differences in opinions between groups are striking. Partisanship, religious affiliation, race/ethnicity, income, age, and urban/rural status all influenced attitudes.

Preemption Laws on the Rise, But Arizona Pushes Back
State preemption laws—a state law enacted to override and undo a city ordinance or law—are on the rise across a number of issue areas according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute. Over the last 10 years, preemption laws addressing the minimum wage have been routinely added in 1 to 4 states per year. As of September 2017, 25 states have such laws on the books. The trend is similar for paid leave preemption laws (20 states) and fair scheduling preemption laws (9 states). But Arizona recently notched a win when a judge threw out a 2016 law that barred employers from providing benefits beyond those established at the state level.

After a six-week recess, Congress is back in Washington, D.C.—and they’ve already had a jam-packed week. The House and Senate both passed a bill that will raise the debt ceiling and keep the government funded until December 2017, while also providing aid to victims of Hurricane Harvey. Meanwhile, the executive branch was busy, too, taking action on Title IX, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and the EEO-1 data collection (check out our Top Stories for details).

If this week is any indication, it’s going to be a busy fall, and AAUW members are ready to take action. Talk to your branch and friends about what you can do in your community. Sign up for AAUW’s Two-Minute Activist email or text message alerts to get the latest updates on opportunities for advocacy. And of course, stay tuned in to Washington Update for all the latest news on AAUW’s priority issues.

Top Stories

Secretary of Education Announces Title IX Rollbacks
In a speech at George Mason University this Thursday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the Department of Education would be reviewing Title IX regulations and guidance. Later in press interviews she confirmed that the Department intendeds to rescind a 2011 Dear Colleague letter on Title IX and sexual violence, taking the first step toward rolling back the progress made toward preventing and ending discrimination in our schools. DeVos’ speech noted many situations in which schools have failed to adhere to the law. AAUW believes the appropriate response to this assertion is to enforce Title IX, not to undermine it. We stand with survivors and remain committed to protecting and defending Title IX, and to pursuing its vigorous enforcement.

Administration Ends DACA Program
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump ordered an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program implemented by the Obama administration in 2012. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the decision to rescind the program, which provides nearly 800,000 recipients the ability to attend school and work without fear of deportation, over the next six months. President Trump later indicated on Twitter that if Congress does not develop and pass a new program for young immigrants before it sunsets, he will revisit the issue. AAUW opposed the decision to end DACA, and will continue to stand by immigrant students and defend their right to an education.

OMB Stops Employer Information Report Salary Data Collection
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently announced they would halt the implementation of the revised Employer Information Report (EEO-1) salary data collection. OMB claimed the rule, whichrequired businesses to track employees’ wages by gender, race, and ethnicity, would be burdensome to employers. This data would enable the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the federal government as a whole to ensure that all Americans enjoy the fair and level playing field that is the basis of universal economic security. The EEO-1 pay data collection would also provide much-needed transparency in combatting the gender and racial pay gaps. AAUW urges the EEOC to stand strong in its commitment to helping workers combat pay discrimination by shedding much-needed light on employer pay practices.

State Spotlight

This Wednesday, AAUW Iron Mountain/Kingsford Branch of Michigan held a voter registration event at Bay Community College. They attended the campus’s Welcome Back Student Cookout and gave students information about registering to vote. They even came prepared with information about registering to vote in Wisconsin since the college is near the state border. AAUW believes that all eligible voters must have the opportunity and the information needed to exercise their right to vote. National Voter Registration Day is coming up on September 26—make plans to participate using AAUW’s voter registration how-to guide and our election dos and don’ts resource!

Cheer of the Week

In mid-August, a bill that would have required transgender individuals to use restroom facilities that correspond to the sex listed on their birth certificates was defeated in the Texas legislature. The failure of the so-called “bathroom bill” marks a big success for civil rights advocates in the state.

Jeer of the Week

Analysis by real estate company Redfin recently found that the gender pay gap follows women as they purchase homes. The research found that single women earn just 92 cents of home equity for each dollar earned by single men.

Bits and Pieces

  • The Department of Education announced last week that it would end its partnership with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). There are concerns that, thanks to this move, the CFPB will be less able to challenge and intervene in problematic practices regarding federal student loans.
  • One month after tweeting his intention do to so, President Trump signed a presidential memorandum taking steps to reinstate the ban on transgender people in the military. AAUW stands with trans Americans and believes veterans and the military deserve better than this discriminatory approach.
  • Two new reports show decreasing confidence in private school vouchers. PDK’s Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools reported 52 percent of respondents opposed voucher programs with opposition rising to 61 percent when asked if public dollars should be used to pay for private schools with religious affiliations. FutureEd also found that while the number of students applying to the Washington, D.C., voucher program increased, but the number of students actually using a voucher decreased, with a 30 percent enrollment drop in the past four years.
  • For students around the country, September means back to school. AAUW has lots of resources for students available on our website—share them with a student in your life!

Don’t let Congress defund the equal pay data collection. Call your Representative at 1-855-973-0824 now!

The latest numbers are out and they confirm what we already know – the gender pay gap is persistent and it’s pernicious. According to new data released today, U.S. women make on average only 80 cents for every dollar men are paid.

To add insult to injury, Congress is now moving to defund a crucial data collection tool that helps employers and enforcers identify pay discrimination.

Let’s be clear: voting to defund the equal pay data collection is a vote against equal pay.

This week, the House of Representatives will vote on the FY 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill, which includes language that would defund theEqual Employment Opportunity Commission’s collection of summary pay data by gender, race, and ethnicity through the Employer Information Report, known as the EEO-1. This information is invaluable to the fight for fair pay. That’s why Representatives DeLauro, Frankel, and Scott have offered an amendment that would restore funding for the EEO-1 pay data collection.

Charlotte, we can’t let this issue go down without a fight.

Call 1-855-973-0824 now to urge your representative to vote YES on the DeLauro/Frankel/Scott amendment to the FY18 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill to restore funding for the equal pay data collection. When you use our phone line, you’ll hear a brief script before being connected to the appropriate office. The vote could happen as soon as tonight, so don’t wait to make your voice heard.

At our current rate of progress, the gender pay gap won’t close for more than a century, but there are actions our lawmakers can take to make pay equity a reality.

Call 1-855-973-0824 now or send an email to your member of Congress and let them know you won’t keep waiting. 

This week, AAUW helped to deliver over 100,000 letters from advocates who urged the Department of Education to protect and preserve the Title IX guidance that keeps students safe.

But yesterday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that she is taking the first steptowards dismantling protections for survivors of campus sexual assault, claiming that existing guidelines have “failed.” According to this logic, the Secretary sees evidence that schools are failing to adequately protect students as a reason to weaken Title IX protections – not enforce them.

AAUW stands with survivors and remains committed to protecting and defending Title IX. It’s time for schools to step up and demonstrate that they will do the right thing for their students even in the midst of potential rollbacks from the Department of Education. That’s why we’re calling on you to take strategic action now.

Here’s what you can do to stand up to this attack on civil rights:

  1. Schedule a visit to your local school’s Title IX Coordinator to address the Department of Education’s announcement about the future of Title IX enforcement. Use our lookup tool to find their contact information and log your meeting plans here so that we can send you materials.
  2. At the meeting, explain that AAUW opposes any intent to roll back this guidance. AAUW urges schools to leave in place their current, strong policies. You can bring AAUW’s statement to share.
  3. Urge your local Title IX Coordinator to speak out about the importance of upholding Title IX protections at their school. This sample letter to editor can be customized and co-signed by meeting attendees, your branch members, other allies, and local Title IX Coordinators. Submit it to a local paper or campus publication.
  4. Ask what support your local Title IX Coordinator needs from the community. Hundreds of AAUW members have delivered resources to Title IX Coordinators to help these individuals better understand and perform their important jobs of ensuring that learning environments are free from sex discrimination. Find out how you can continue to support these efforts through ongoing conversation, community events, and more.

As a committed AAUW activist and Title IX advocate, you’ve helped move the needle toward preventing and ending discrimination in our schools.

With this progress under attack, now more than ever we need to make our voices heard.

The best way to celebrate Women’s Equality Day? Make a plan to register voters in your community!

This Saturday, August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, the annual commemoration of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted the right to vote to many women. Ninety-seven years later, AAUW members continue the fight for gender equity – and what better way to honor the legacy of suffragists than by making plans to register voters in your community!

National Voter Registration Day (NVRD) – happening September 26 – is a nonpartisan nationwide effort to register tens of thousands of voters. Plan your branch participation now, using these AAUW resources:

We can work to ensure all eligible voters have the opportunity and the information needed to exercise their right to vote. This Women’s Equality Day, make plans to increase access to the ballot box, and check out other opportunities to celebrate Women’s Equality Day with AAUW.

P.S. Did you know AAUW’s Two-Minute Activist program has gone mobile? Text the word EQUALITY to 21333 today to receive timely, targeted calls for action via text message!

Reflecting on Barriers in Higher Education
The barriers to education have changed since AAUW was founded in 1881, but we’re facing new challenges with new solutions.

How Will You Celebrate Women’s Suffrage onAugust 26?Women’s Equality Day, which marks the anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, is coming up. Celebrate women’s history online or in person.

Tensions Rise Between State Legislatures and Citizen-Led Ballot Initiatives
The 2016 election saw a record number of citizen-initiated ballot measures. Stateline attributes this phenomenon to citizen frustration at legislators’ inaction around some issues, as well as low voter turnout in the previous election which made it easier to get enough signatures to put measures on the ballot. Once the 2017 legislative sessions began, legislators started to fight back. Some state legislatures sought to correct measures that were poorly written or did not take existing law into account. Other legislatures passed bills to undermine or change ballot initiatives, for example altering the AAUW of Maine supported state minimum wage increase. Still other policymakers sought changes to citizen-led ballot initiative process altogether.More Women and Minorities are Taking Computer Science Courses
According to new data, the number of women and underrepresented minorities who took an Advancement Placement (AP) computer science course increased from 2016 to 2017. One in five students in those classes were underrepresented minorities, and one in four were women. While these gains are noteworthy, women and minorities are still far from reaching parity in the computer science and engineering fields. AAUW research reveals more about this pervasive issue, and we urge continued recruitment of women into STEM majors, enforcement of Title IX to improve school climates for women and girls, and the continued collection of data that’s disaggregated and cross-tabulated by gender. Only then will we begin to address the gaps in these high-wage, high-demand fields.Tactics to Tackle Preemption Laws in Your State
In recent years, cities have taken action to raise the minimum wage, provide family-friendly benefits, and provide protections for transgender people. But state legislators are pushing so-called preemption bills that override and undo such city ordinances and local control. Instead of writing laws that provide a floor for core rights, these state-level bills are inserting a cap. Missouri recently enacted a law that preempts local minimum wage increases, thus repealing St. Louis’ $10-an-hour ordinance. Fortunately, Texas just staved off a threat from the state government to keep localities from protecting the rights of transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender. AAUW of Texas members were instrumental in ensuring that the bill didn’t move forward. To tackle these thorny issues, CityLab released a preemption playbook. The guide suggests lobbying your state, moving forward with policy plans in whatever capacity is possible, passing an ordinance that is very narrowly tailored, or bringing a lawsuit.
Oregon Passes First Comprehensive Fair Scheduling Law 
Last week Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed the nation’s first comprehensive fair scheduling state law, which was backed by AAUW of Oregon. For many low-wage workers, an unpredictable schedule is part of the job. But a fluctuating schedule can make life difficult for workers, hampering their ability to provide care for family members, attend school, or take on a second job. Moreover, inconsistent hours lead to inconsistent paychecks. Research suggests that 2.78 million people work on-call jobs or as day laborers. Oregon’s new law will attempt to assuage some of these issues by requiring that retail, hospitality, and food service workers be given their schedules with one week’s advance notice. Additionally, these workers will receive pay for last-minute schedule changes or compensation if they are on-call but not called in, and the right to take rest between shifts. Several cities have passed similar legislation, but Oregon is the first state to do so. In conjunction with equal pay, minimum wage, and paid leave laws, fair scheduling practices can improve the economic well-being of low-income women and their families.Minnesota Engages in Anti-Trafficking Work Prior to the 2018 Super Bowl
As Minneapolis prepares for the 2018 Super Bowl, Minnesota state lawmakers and law enforcement agencies are taking steps to crack down on sex trafficking. Trafficking is thought to surge during the annual event, but Minnesota hopes their anti-trafficking steps will last long after the February festivities. While the state already devotes attention to anti-trafficking activities, the Super Bowl is bringing added urgency. In conjunction with a campaign to reduce demand for sex trafficking, the state will focus on coordinated stings, and trainings for workers who are most likely to encounter victims. Through these measures, the state hopes to target the consumers rather than punish the victims.AAUW members have a history of combating sex and human trafficking; AAUW of New Jersey specifically focused on curbing trafficking during the Super Bowl in 2014. In partnership with the National Council of Jewish Women, AAUW released a toolkit to combat human trafficking. The resource outlines three key state policy priorities — hotline posting requirements, safe harbor laws, and vacatur laws.State Abortion Restrictions Are Bad for Women’s Health Outcomes
To date, states have enacted 53 new abortion restrictions during the 2017 legislative session. While proponents of these laws often argue that they are intended to help women, new research from the Center for Reproductive Rights and Ibis Reproductive Health finds that states with more anti-abortion laws tend to have poorer health outcomes for women and children when compared to states that have fewer restrictions. Specifically, the study looks at access to primary care providers, maternal mortality rates, vaccinations, and access to mental health care for children. This suggests that abortion restrictions do not actually benefit women and children and in fact do the exact opposite.
Get Ready for New Equal Pay Data 
In mid-September the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will release new data on the gender and racial pay gaps, including breakdowns based on state and Congressional district. AAUW will update The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, as well as our state-specific roadmaps. This is a great opportunity for you to bring attention to the pervasive gender pay gap, as well as AAUW’s advocacy around it. During the fall, many legislators are starting to think about the upcoming legislative session. Take information about The Simple Truth and a copy of your state roadmap to key legislators. Introduce yourself and AAUW by showing your elected representatives the depth of our research and advocacy. Need help? Contact us at advocacy@aauw.org to talk about a plan for your state.Prepare for Election Day by Registering Voters or Holding a Candidate Forum
While Election Day 2017 will not see major federal contests, there will be many crucial state and local races on the ballot on November 7. From gubernatorial to state legislative to mayoral to school board elections, it is just as important to vote this year as any other. Registering voters is a key part of our get-out-the-vote effort leading up to Election Day, and National Voter Registration Day is September 27. Check out AAUW’s tutorials to help plan a voter registration drive. Or host a candidate forum inviting candidates running for office to express their positions on AAUW issues. Keep in mind that each state has different laws regulating voter registration, and sometimes they are tricky. Before moving forward with any activities, consult these guides from our partners to make sure you are in compliance with state law.
Charting the Effects of Medicaid Changes By State
As the federal government explores repealing or replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states are bracing for impact. The Center for American Progress released a breakdown of how many individuals are covered by Medicaid in each state and how proposed cuts would affect those people. The data are divided by age, gender, and ethnicity. In every state, the cuts would impact more women than men, and in half of all states children would be the hardest hit.Fiscal and Policy Trends in State Higher Education 
The American Association of State Colleges and Universities released a state outlook for postsecondary fiscal and policy issues. The analysis found that the majority of states brought in less revenue than projected in Fiscal Year 2017. Generally, states are focusing their spending on health care, K-12 education, pensions, and corrections, leaving little for postsecondary education. In total, 19 states cut funding for higher education for Fiscal Year 2018. In statehouses, the most common postsecondary bills focused on funding, affordability, workforce development, undocumented and deferred action for childhood arrival (DACA) students, campus sexual assault, guns on campus, performance funding, academic freedom, student debt management, and dual enrollment.

Cheer of the Week

Two women made history this week as the first female candidates competing for two of the most prestigious combat roles in the U.S. Navy. One of the women is in consideration for the Navy’s all-enlisted Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman program, while the other is currently enrolled in a university and will eventually apply to become a SEAL officer.

Jeer of the Week

On Monday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoed a bill that would have expanded paid leave for workers with new children or sick relatives. If signed, the legislation would have increased the reimbursement cap and doubled the eligibility period for family leave insurance.


Bits and Pieces

  • On Monday, Congressional Democrats unveiled a new plan to improve wages, lower costs, and create job training in an attempt to appeal to rural and blue-collar Americans. The proposal, “ A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future,” focuses on key issues for populist voters who were drawn to then-candidate Donald Trump’s platform during the 2016 election.
  • Kentucky may become the first state without a single abortion clinic. Gov. Matt Bevin (R) has already signed two anti-choice bills into law since taking office in December. This as protests from a Christian fundamentalist group outside the final remaining facility continue to heat up, prompting a federal judge toissue a “buffer zone,” which allows patients to enter the clinic without being blocked by protestors.
  • In June, the Maine legislature passed an equal pay bill that would have prohibited employers from seeking the prior salary of a prospective employee. Many states and localities have been exploring similar policies in an attempt to stop prior pay discrimination from following workers from job to job. Gov. Paul LePage (R-ME) vetoed the bill, and last week the legislature failed to override that veto.
  • Hundreds of higher education institutions and nonprofits, including AAUW, asked Congress to increase the value of the Pell Grant. In the letter to lawmakers, the group wrote that the current value of the grant covers less than one-third of the cost of a traditional university education.
  • This week marks eight years since the last raise in the federal minimum wage. The wage, which still stands at $7.25 an hour, has not kept up with the cost of living. While some states have increased their minimum wage, a higher federal minimum is necessary for a decent standard of living.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice argued that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an essential civil rights law that protects employees from discrimination, does not protect workers based on sexual orientation. The department filed an amicus brief on Wednesday in response to a case in New York.
  • In a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a group of bipartisan legislators urged the Department of Education to continue to publish a list of higher education institutions under Title IX investigations. The letter addressed to both Devos and Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Candice Jackson, stresses the need for transparency around sexual assault on college campuses and asks that it continue.

State Spotlight

AAUW of Pennsylvania members worked in coalition last week to host a town hall style conversation at their local YWCA. The community conversation was one in a series of events AAUW-PA helped organize as part of the Pennsylvania Campaign for Women’s Health, a collaboration of organizations calling for evidence-based legislation and policy regarding accessible and affordable reproductive health care and economic security. The 65 individuals in attendance discussed a variety of issues, spanning from maternity care to contraceptive access to the Affordable Care Act, along with proposed potential solutions.

Trump Tweets about Banning Transgender People in Military
President Donald Trump announced via Twitter early Wednesday that the ban on transgender people serving in the military would be reinstated. In 2016, former Department of Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the prior ban on trans individuals in the military, allowing them to serve openly. Multiple reasons were cited for the decision – from military readiness, to the myth of increased medical costs, to political bargaining. Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, who serves as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has since stated that there will not be any modifications to the military’s policy until the secretary of defense implements a guide on how to proceed. AAUW opposes this prejudicial ban, and advocates equal treatment for all who choose to serve in our nation’s military.

Would you work 19 months just to take home the same pay your colleague did in 12 months? Absolutely not. Yet this is the scenario faced much too often by black women in the United States. This Monday, July 31, we’ll mark Black Women’s Equal Pay Day — the symbolic day when black women’s average earnings finally catch up to white men’s from last year.

AAUW research found that black women are paid just 63 cents for every dollar made by white, non-Hispanic men. When 70 percent of black mothers serve as the primary or sole breadwinner in their family, every penny counts. The pay gap threatens women’s economic security and can hinder women’s ability to pay bills, including student loans. AAUW’s new report, Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans, found that a whopping 57 percent of black women who were repaying student loans reported that they had been unable to meet essential expenses within the past year. After all, it’s hard to pay bills when you’re missing a huge chunk of your paycheck.

If you’re angry about this pay gap and want to take action, we have several different ways to “celebrate” this day.

  • Take action by asking Congress to protect important pay data that provides crucial information about closing the pay gap.
  • Participate in a #BlackWomensEqualPay twitterstorm from 2-3 p.m. ET on Monday.
  • Can’t participate in twitterstorm? Add your voice to a thunderclap and an AAUW entry will be automatically scheduled to post on your Facebook and/or Twitter on Monday.

We hope you’ll join us Monday by calling for action to close the gender and racial pay gaps!

*There will be no Washington Update for the month of August. Washington Update will resume onSeptember 8 when both chambers of Congress are back in session.*

Top Stories

Attempts to Repeal Health Care Law Fail in Senate
Early this morning, repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) failed in a 49-51 Senate vote. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), and John McCain (R-AZ), along with all Senate Democrats, voted against the harmful proposal. The defeat of ACA repeal preserves women’s access to affordable and quality health care. The most recent Senate plan, called the Health Care Freedom Act (HCFA) or “skinny repeal,” would have eliminated essential health care provisions of the law and jeopardized health care coverage for millions of Americans. AAUW opposed the HCFA, as well as earlier repeal proposals. We will continue to oppose any efforts that seek to weaken women’s access to affordable, quality health coverage, and any attacks that endanger women’s access to key health care services provided by Planned Parenthood health centers.

AAUW is a community of thousands of members standing up and speaking out for equality. In my first few weeks as chief executive officer, I’ve spoken with passionate members, supporters, and community leaders just like you about our next steps to break down barriers for women and girls. It’s been deeply inspiring to hear from so many of you. We’ve laid out ambitious goals, and I hope you’ll strengthen the movement with your gift today to help us achieve them. With your help we’ll step up our efforts on the following fronts:

  1. Closing the pay gap. Women’s overall wages remain stalled behind men’s — and the gender pay gap is also linked to the number of families living in poverty. With your help, AAUW will lead the fight for equal pay legislation and continue programs that empower women to ask for the salaries they deserve.
  1. Conducting critical research. AAUW’s pioneering 2017 report Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans is the first to investigate gender as a factor in student debt. We uncovered some unsettling truths: Nearly two-thirds of all U.S. student debt is held by women, and it takes women on average two years longer than men to pay back their debt once they enter the workforce due to the gender pay gap. These findings lay the groundwork for AAUW-proposed solutions to the student debt crisis.
  1. Promoting campus leadership. Just 6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Clearly we’ve got our work cut out for us in promoting women leaders, starting with developing women’s confidence and skills in college. AAUW combats the gender leadership gap with campus programs, workshops, and awards such as our Campus Action Project grants to help students, faculty, and staff engage their communities on issues that matter to women.
  1. Engaging girls in STEM. The low number of women and girls pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields is not a status quo we can live with. Underrepresentation in these fields has significant implications for women’s financial security, economic growth, and global innovation. AAUW awards educational funding to graduate women in these fields, advocates for federal STEM education funding, and promotes STEM programs for girls at the community level to break down gender stereotypes in these fields.

Would you work 19 months just to take home the same pay your colleague did in 12 months? Absolutely not. Yet this is the scenario faced much too often by black women in the United States. This Monday, July 31, we’ll commemorate Black Women’s Equal Pay Day — the symbolic day when black women’s average earnings finally catch up to white men’s from last year.

We need your help to right this wrong! Tell Congress to give us the tools to close gender and racial pay gaps!

Without immediate action to close the gender and racial pay gaps, economic insecurity will be a constant fixture of life for many women for years to come. We can’t think of a better way to “celebrate” Black Women’s Equal Pay Day than by securing the tools to help close the pay gap once and for all. One way to do this: transparency. We need your help to stop Congress from rolling back important progress.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) put forward a plan to collect more data that would be critical to addressing the pay gap. Known as the Employer Information Report (EEO-1), this data collection would shed much-needed light on racial and gender pay gaps and spark action to remedy these issues. But now this data collection is at risk. Congress is threatening to take away its funding and stop the data collection in its tracks. Don’t let Congress hide this critical information.

When it comes to pay inequity, sunshine is the best disinfectant. We need transparency to identify pay gaps and work to close them. Tell Congress: don’t defund the EEO-1!

  • In response to a letter from 34 Senate Democrats, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos declared that the U.S. Department of Education would return to “a neutral, impartial, investigative agency.” The Secretary’s letter did not address questions from Senators regarding information on things like civil rights investigations that have been closed or dismissed by the Department. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) has since followed up repeating the request for information.
  • Attorneys general from 20 states asked Secretary DeVos to leave in place protections for students who are victims of sexual assault, responding to suggestions that her office will roll back Title IX guidance and regulations. In the letter, the attorneys general asked DeVos to maintain the progress that states have already made in protecting students and to trust the stories of survivors.
  • The Trump administration wants to expand a voucher program to which the U.S. Congress dedicates $15 million annually for low-income students to attend private schools in Washington, D.C. A story this week revealed that the program lacks transparency, as there is no publicly available data on how many students attend each school, how much public funding each student receives, or how students are performing.

This week, the BBC published the salaries of its top-earning employees, revealing a significant gender pay gap at the network. The top-paid female employee at the BBC earns a whopping $2 million less than the top-paid man on staff.

Thanks to the work of Rayouf Alhumedhi, a 16-year-old girl from Saudi Arabia, Apple revealed that its newest set of emojis would include a woman with a headscarfAlhumedhi drafted and submitted the proposal for the emoji in a desire for increased representation for Muslim women.

On Saturday, members of AAUW Boise (ID) Branch participated in a march with hundreds of other activists opposing the Senate’s health care bill. With the help of local lawmakers, Boise Branch members rallied against the proposed cuts to Medicaid, a crucial program for many residents of the state. Their advocacy, in conjunction with many others who spoke out in opposition to the bill, proved successful on Tuesday when GOP leaders declared the bill could not pass the Senate. AAUW believes that everyone is entitled to high-quality, affordable, and accessible health care, and we thank the AAUW Boise Branch for their activism!

Presidential Commission Meets to Investigate Unsubstantiated Allegations of Voter Fraud
This Wednesday, the “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” met for the first time. The Commission claims to be investigating alleged widespread voter fraud, despite extensive research discrediting this dangerous myth. For years, claims of voter fraud have been used to justify unwarranted voting restrictions, limiting access to the ballot box. A number of advocacy organizations filed lawsuits citing the commission’s violation of privacy. AAUW joined with a coalition of over 200 national organizations urging secretaries of state to protect sensitive information about voters, and expressing concerns over potential voter suppression.

Budget Proposal Passes House Committee
The House Budget Committee approved the blueprint for the Fiscal Year 2018 budget resolution. The budget passed along party lines, with every Republican supporting the plan. Democrats offered 28 amendments on the bill, but none were approved. Notably, the resolution sets aside $621.5 billion for defense spending and just $511 billion for non-defense discretionary programs. At the same time this week, House appropriators were already moving forward with funding bills that include similarly harmful cuts to critical programs.

GOP Pushing Health Care Repeal after Losing Crucial Support in the Senate
Republican leaders proposed moving forward with a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement plan. This after the Senate bill to replace the ACA failed to gain enough support before a vote. According to the Congressional Budget Office, repealing the ACA would leave 32 million uninsured by 2026, and it would take us back to a time when women were charged more for health insurance than men, when health insurance often failed to cover essential preventive care, and when many women couldn’t find affordable health coverage in the individual market. AAUW believes that everyone deserves access to quality, affordable health insurance. Attempts to repeal the ACA specifically put women’s access to health care in danger and threaten their economic security.

How Transparent is Your State’s Education Data?
Good data are a critical piece to understanding our education system and how to achieve beneficial outcomes. Data can alert educators and parents when students are falling behind, identify trends, compare school performance, and show which methods are working and which are not. Achieve released a tool to help with these endeavors by monitoring each state’s reporting of college and career readiness data. The tool looks at eight categories and asks whether each state reports data, reports data by subgroup, releases data in a timely manner, and counts all students in its data reporting. The categories tracked include criteria for both the high school and postsecondary education levels. The Data Quality Campaign also released an analysis examining the ease or difficulty of finding each state’s data. Use these two tools to understand how your state stacks up and what informational holes exist.

Are State Paid Sick Days Laws Working?
A new report from the Economic Policy Institute looks at trends in paid sick days laws across the country. The past several years saw the passage of such laws in 7 states, Washington, D.C., and 31 other localities. The report looks at the ongoing need for these laws, but also how workers are faring in places that have implemented them. It appears that low-wage workers are increasingly gaining access to this important benefit. In 2012, 18 percent of low-wage, private-sector workers had access to paid sick time nationwide. That share increased to 27 percent in 2016. While workers in the top decile of wage earners already had greater access to paid sick leave, their gains during this same time period were significantly smaller. Increased access is critical because low-wage workers are less able to afford to take unpaid time off from their jobs. Taking off just one to three days can wipe out a family’s monthly budget for food, gas, or utilities. Moreover, not taking time off can lead to lengthier illness, which can have an even larger impact.

Commemorate Black Women’s Equal Pay Day 
Would you like to work almost 20 months just to be paid the same paycheck your coworkers receive in a year? That’s the case for black women in the United States, who are paid, on average, 63 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. #BlackWomensEqualPay Day, which takes place on July 31, is the symbolic day when black women’s earnings “catch up” to white men’s earnings from the previous year. When 70 percent of black mothers serve as the primary or sole breadwinner in their family, every penny counts. The pay gap threatens women’s economic security and can hinder women’s ability to pay bills, including student loans. AAUW’s new report, Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans, found that a whopping 57 percent of black women graduates who were repaying student loans reported that they had been unable to meet essential expenses within the past year. After all, it’s hard to pay bills when you’re missing a huge chunk of your paycheck. Help take action this #BlackWomensEqualPay Day! Join our Twitter storm on July 31 from 2-3 p.m. ET, when we’ll explain the gender pay gap, suggest solutions, and, with your help, advocate for change.

Minimum Wage Increases and Setbacks
The start of 2017 brought higher minimum wages in 19 states, with 2 additional states and Washington, D.C. also increasing their rates after July 1. But several states faced setbacks in their efforts to raise wages. In Maine, voters approved a ballot measure last November to raise the state minimum wage and eliminate the tipped minimum wage. However, Gov. Paul LePage (R-ME) rolled back progress by signing a bill that reinstates the tip credit. The new bill does state that if an employee’s wages plus tips do not amount to the minimum wage, the employer is required to make up the difference. Meanwhile, Missouri just enacted a law that preempts local minimum wage increases, thus repealing St. Louis’ $10-an-hour ordinance. Gov. Eric Greitens (R-MO) allowed the measure to become law without his signature. Similar bills passed in Georgia, Iowa, and Kentucky earlier this year, while Minnesota thwarted an attempt to preempt local minimum wage ordinances.

States and Cities See Momentum on Paid Family Leave Policies
Paid family and medical leave enjoys wide popularity, but federal legislators have struggled to pass national programs that provide working families with the supports they require. As a result, many states and localities are stepping up. Washington state made waves earlier this month when Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) signed a comprehensive, bi-partisan bill guaranteeing eligible workers 12 weeks of paid time off to care for a new child or serious medical condition. Both employers and employees contribute to the program, which goes into effect in 2020. AAUW of Washington members fiercely advocated for this bill’s passage. Meanwhile, the New Jersey legislature passed a bill reforming their paid family leave system. The current system only allows employees to take time off to care for a child, spouse or partner, or parent. The new bill would add siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, and in-laws to that list. Additionally, it would double the allowable amount of paid time off from 6 to 12 weeks and increase the cap on replacement wages. It is unknown whether Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) will sign the bill. Additionally, Nashville voted to extend six weeks of paid leave to new parents, or those caring for a seriously ill parent, child, or spouse.

States Take on Contraceptive Coverage in the Face of Attacks on the Affordable Care Act
In 2010, the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought increased access to contraception nationwide. The law requires most private health insurance plans to cover several methods of contraception with no out-of-pocket costs. Before the ACA, 28 states already required state-regulated health insurance plans that covered prescription drugs and devices to also cover prescription contraceptives. Since the ACA’s passage, some states updated their laws to mirror, or augment, the federal requirements. Those laws that go beyond the federal requirements cover vasectomies and male condoms, over-the-counter contraception without a prescription, a one-year supply of contraception, or other reproductive health services. Notably, with the support of AAUW of Oregon, the Oregon legislature just passed a bill requiring health insurance companies to cover reproductive services, including abortion, for any patient, regardless of income, citizenship status, or gender identity. It is awaiting Gov. Kate Brown’s (D-OR) signature.

State Budget Woes
Several states engaged in epic battles to approve a budget before their legislative sessions ended, or a new fiscal year began. While the vast majority of states approved a budget for fiscal year 2018, tax revenues were lower than expected in 33 states causing many to tighten spending. Arguably, Illinois had the most fraught budget battle, with a two year impasse finally ending earlier this month. The legislature passed an override of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s (R-IL) veto, raising taxes and enacting spending cuts. Since the battle began in 2015, Illinois amassed over $15 billion in overdue bills. Homeless and domestic violence shelters were forced to close, universities laid off employees, and many construction projects were halted leaving workers unemployed. This new budget plan will restore a reliable funding stream to the state’s universities, but at levels five percent lower than in 2015. The plan also failed to address the state’s enormous unfunded pension liability.

Case update: On April 27, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit handed down an unfavorable decision in Aileen Rizo’s case. The court held that using prior salary alone to calculate current wages can be permissible under the Equal Pay Act as a “factor other than sex” if the defendant shows that its use of prior salary was reasonable and effectuated a business policy.

Rizo argued that using prior salary alone to calculate current wages perpetuates existing pay disparities and undermines the legislative intent of the Equal Pay Act, which is to address pay inequity based on sex.

This unfavorable ruling magnifies the need for strong state and federal legislation that eliminates the practice of using prior salary alone to calculate current wages.

The case was remanded back to district court to determine if the business reasons presented by the defendant are reasonable given their stated purpose. In the meantime, AAUW has signed onto an amicus brief in support of Rizo’s petition for rehearing en banc — in front of all the judges of a court rather than only a selected panel — and urges the Ninth Circuit to reconsider.

RSVP now for a call on July 27 to analyze what recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions mean for AAUW’s priorities.

Save the date to mark black women’s equal pay day on July 31, and join the discussion.

Do you know someone who would love AAUW’s student conference? Nominate them to go to the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in 2018.

Find important dates in women’s history, nationally recognized days of action, and more using AAUW’s handy programming calendar.

  • According to a new report by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Division I intuitions in the association spend 50 percent less on women’s sports than men’s. The report, released just after the 45th anniversary of Title IX, also found a number of other areas in which NCAA schools need to increase equity and diversity.
  • Two new studies on vouchers examined programs in Indiana and Louisiana. Both studies found that kids who switched from public schools to private schools tended to exhibit academic regression for several years before catching up with their peers.
  • On Monday, the Supreme Court decided unanimously to allow President Donald Trump’s travel ban to partially go into effect until the case is heard in the fall. On Wednesday, the State Department issued guidelines for the amended ban, including defining which relationships qualified for exemption from the ban. On Thursday evening, the state of Hawaii asked a federal court to clarify the scope of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
  • The Georgia Supreme Court determined in a unanimous ruling that it’s within the state’s constitution to allow taxpayers to direct some of their state taxes to private schools, thereby allowing a taxpayer to decide where a portion of their state taxes are directed. AAUW opposes diverting desperately needed resources away from the public school system to fund education at private or religious schools that are not subject to the same civil rights requirements as public schools.
  • The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to hear the case of a Colorado baker who cited religious objections in refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple and was later sued for discrimination. The court’s announcement comes the same week as the two year anniversary of their 2015 decision on marriage equality.
  • AAUW and other coalition partners attended a U.S. Department of Justice summit on hate crimes this past Thursday. Many hate crimes currently go unreported, making it difficult to study them. AAUW was pleased to join Thursday’s conversation and expects the Department of Justice to commit to strong hate crimes prevention and enforcement as well as strive to end bias and bigotry in all of its work.
  • Candice Jackson, the acting head of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, said this week that the department may stop publishing a weekly list of schools under investigation for mishandling sexual assault reports. AAUW believes the list of schools under investigation is critical for government transparency, fostering community conversations, and providing information about where schools may be falling short on Title IX compliance.
  • This Thursday, Oregon passed a comprehensive fair scheduling law with bipartisan support. The legislation mandates that employers in certain sectors must provide employees with advance notice of their schedule, compensation for last-minute changes and on-call hours, and an estimate of weekly hours upon hiring, among other requirements.

Gov. Paul LePage (R-ME) partially repealed a ballot measure, restoring the tip credit and allowing employers to pay tipped workers half of the state’s minimum wage. AAUW of Maine members worked hard to push the ballot measure through last year. The bill repeals the portion of the measure relating to tipped workers, but does not remove the measure’s requirement to raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020.

Six out of ten finalists in a major STEM competition for middle schoolers are girls, showing the incredible talents of young women in the field. The girls, ages 11-13, proposed creative solutions to everyday problems, from an environmentally friendly way to clean up oil spills to an affordable sensor that detects lead in water. Finalists receive a cash prize and mentorship opportunities, and the winner will be named “America’s Top Young Scientist.”

A new report from Project: Time Off showsthat more than half of Americans did not use all of their vacation time last year. The report analyzed time off by location and industry, and estimated that Americans lost a total of 662 million vacation days. AAUW supports greater availability and access to a high standard of benefits and policies that promote work-life balance.

The Economic Policy Institute recently released an analysis of paid sick leave trends, finding that taking time off disproportionately affects low-wage workers’ economic security. The report examines how unpaid sick days could jeopardize a low-wage worker’s ability to afford basic necessities. AAUWadvocates for paid sick days, which are a vital component of women’s economic security.

In a recent study, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland Fund (NPCMF) foundunnecessary barriers to purchasing emergency contraception in the state, despite U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. NPCMF surveyed different stores by using a “mystery shopper” who would attempt to purchase the contraceptive. In its findings, NPCMF details three major challenges: unnecessary age restrictions, improper placement of the product in stores, and high costs.

Nearly 40 cities and states now have paid sick days laws, which will result in almost 2 million people gaining access to paid sick leave. Now more than ever we must protect and advance these gains. Thursday, July 6 from 3-4 p.m. ET, add your voice to a paid leave Twitter Storm. Use the hashtag#PaidSickDays to highlight these victories and amplify the need for national paid sick days.

Twenty eight years after our first official Lobby Day, more than 700 AAUW members from tates across the country stormed Congress for the 2017 AAUW Capitol Hill Lobby Day. There, they visited over 350 Senate and House offices where they advocated for gender equity by telling their members of Congress to protect and strengthen Title IX and to help tackle the overwhelming amount of student debt women in this country faces. While we were there, we saw lots of state pride! Members from Minnesota wore state buttons, the Virginia delegation had custom paper fans featuring their state bird, and Pennsylvania made ribbon pins featuring the Liberty Bell. Keep the momentum of Lobby Day going in your state with AAUW’s Advocacy How-to Guides!

U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Missouri Church Denied Playground Grant
This Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Trinity Lutheran Church in a decision that could have significant implications on the separation of church and state, including the use of public taxpayer money for religious schools through vouchers. Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer addressed whether a church-sponsored preschool could be excluded from a neutral and secular state-sponsored grant program. The church’s preschool was denied a playground grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources due to the Missouri Constitution’s prohibition on state funds going to religious institutions. Trinity’s suit argued that the denial of its application violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and the First Amendment’s protections of freedom of religion, contending that the grant was “wholly secular” because the money was going to a playground. The Missouri government countered that the church could make updates to its physical grounds, but could not do so with government funding because the Constitution forbids the direct payment of taxpayer funds to religious entities. The court’s 7-2 decision held that the church could not be excluded from a generally available public benefit simply because it is a church. While the holding in this case is narrowly tailored, if schools associated with religious entities are able to secure government funding, this could open the door for the expansion of school voucher programs. Per our Public Policy Priorities, AAUW strongly supports the separation of church and state and opposes the use of public funds for nonpublic elementary and secondary education.

Your calls are working—Senate leaders announced this week that they won’t hold a vote on their health care bill until after the July 4 recess. By speaking up, you helped to protect access to affordable, quality health care for another day. But our work is far from done. With Senate leaders pledging to move forward with a vote before August, we must continue to make our voices heard. Call and email your senators today!

New CBO Report Shows Damaging Effects of Senate Health Care Bill; Vote is Delayed
On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirmed that the Senate health care bill would jeopardize health care access for women, low-income Americans, and older individuals. The Senate bill is largely similar to the House version passed in May and would cause 22 million people covered by the Affordable Care Act to lose coverage by 2026. The CBO report also identified Planned Parenthood as the sole target of a special provision which would cut federal funds for the health care provider. For the one in five women who rely on Planned Parenthood, this could mean losing access to health care services. Additionally, the Senate bill proposes deep cuts to Medicaid, which would disproportionately impact poor women and women of color. The CBO projects that this would impact 15 percent of people who reside in underserved areas, and confirms that women would lose access to maternity coverage and other critical services. With just 17 percent of Americans supporting the health care bill, Republican leaders have decided to delay the vote until after the July 4 recess. At least nine GOP senators are publicly opposed to the bill in its current form, threatening the 50 senate votes needed to pass the legislation. AAUW believes that everyone is entitled to high-quality, affordable, and accessible health care. It is clear that the Senate bill would weaken that access, particularly for women.

Stay up to date with the next step in AAUW advocacy: Two-Minute Activist Mobile! This exciting new tool will allow AAUW to send more timely and targeted communication straight to your cell phone via text message. That means we can provide you with more strategic opportunities to take action when your advocacy can truly make the difference. Text the message “AAUW” to phone number 21333 to join Two-Minute Activist Mobile now, or click here to sign up!

June 25 marked the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The 5-4 judgment held that part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was unconstitutional, removing the requirement for historically discriminatory jurisdictions to obtain preclearance before making changes to voting laws.

During the 2016 election, voters in many states faced restrictions at the polls that weren’t there during the last presidential election. Why? In the past, the Voting Rights Act was used to stop states from passing these kinds of voting restrictions. But the Shelby County v. Holder decision weakened the law, gutting the spirit but leaving the name.

As a result, 14 states implemented new voting restrictions during the 2016 election. Texas, Wisconsin, and North Carolina were slated to have new voting restrictions as well, but federal judges intervened. These voting restrictions directly affect women, minorities, young voters, and the elderly from accessing the ballot box. Everyone should be able to make their voice heard, but without the protections of the Voting Rights Act, new laws were enacted, confusing voters and creating unnecessary barriers to the ballot box.

The right to vote is an essential part of our democracy. Urge your members of Congress to take action to protect voting rights today!


Title IX Celebrates 45 Years Impacting Educational Equity
Today marks the 45th anniversary of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. It covers people of all gender identities, ages, and roles in any educational institution or program that receives federal funds. AAUW has long supported the vigorous enforcement of Title IX to ensure that our schools are free from discrimination. The National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education (NCWGE), chaired by AAUW, released a report this week, Title IX at 45: Advancing Opportunity through Equality in Education, which discusses the progress made under Title IX and barriers to its full implementation. Marking the anniversary, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) today introduced the Patsy T. Mink Gender Equity in Education Act of 2017 (GEEA). If passed, GEEA would provide critical technical assistance to schools to ensure they are efficiently and effectively complying with Title IX. 

Senate Healthcare Bill Proposes Damaging Cuts to Medicaid
After weeks of closed-door meetings, Senate Republicans revealed a health care bill on Thursday that threatens critical protections established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while also cutting funding for Medicaid. This new bill is largely similar to the House version passed in May, and will remove health coverage for an estimated 11 million people currently covered by Medicaid, eliminate protections for one in two people with pre-existing conditions, and increase out-of-pocket costs for older individuals and millions of families. Republicans also included a provision to defund Planned Parenthood and jeopardized coverage for such things as maternity care and mental health services. As of Friday, several Republican Senators released statements vowing to oppose the legislation for a variety of reasons, threatening the 50 votes needed to pass the bill next week. AAUW believes that everyone deserves high-quality, affordable, and accessible health care. It is clear that the Senate bill would weaken that access, particularly for women.

Career and Technical Education Legislation Passes the House
On Thursday, the House of Representative passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353). This bill reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act, which funds career and technical education (CTE) programs at secondary and postsecondary institutions across the country and includes critical gender equity provisions intended to increase the number of women in nontraditional careers. Individually and in coalition with other advocacy groups, AAUW expressed our deep concerns with the bill’s reduction of accountability. Without robust program accountability for students’ opportunities and outcomes, the Perkins program will have limited effect. AAUW will continue to advocate for these and other important measures as the bill moves to the Senate.

Advances in the fight for equal pay are sweeping the nation! Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV) approved two equal pay bills supported by AAUW of Nevada. One protects employees who discuss or disclose their salaries, while the other creates a voluntary certification system for government contractors to ensure they are paying workers equally. Despite these important wins, AAUW of Nevada members were disappointed that the governor vetoed a third stronger, equal pay bill. Meanwhile, Gov. John Carney (D-DE) signed a pay equity bill advanced by AAUW of Delaware. Delaware members were busy attending the AAUW National Convention during the bill signing but were there in spirit. Hats off to AAUW members for their hard work!

On June 6, Delaware’s legislature passed a bill ensuring the legality and accessibility of abortion in the state if Roe v. Wade were to ever be overturned.The legislation also removed prior restrictions that limited abortion access in the state. Illinois, New York, and Rhode Island are all considering similar legislation.

The Prince George’s County Department of the Environment in Maryland paid civil engineer Joanna Smith less than her male counterparts, despite her greater experience and education. The discrimination ultimately resulted in approximately $139,633 in lost wages. Although Smith recently won her discrimination lawsuit, this is yet another example of pay inequity for women.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that will decide whether political gerrymandering is constitutional. The justices will consider whether a Wisconsin court ruling, which found that Republican redistricting in 2011 violated the First Amendment, will remain in effect. The Supreme Court’s decision may have a dramatic impact on the future of electoral district mapping.
  • The U.S. Department of Education is facing a lawsuit after denying a request to release data on pending sexual harassment cases. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), the nonprofit filing the suit, requested Title IX data in January under the Freedom of Information Act, but their petition was denied by the Department.
  • Tennessee is now the first state to offer tuition free community college to almost any adult looking for a degree. Previously, community college was free for any graduating high school student. Now, any resident of Tennessee without a degree will have the opportunity to pursue a college degree or certificate free of charge.
  • Colorado passed a law allowing survivors of sexual assault and stalking to break their residential leases in order to protect themselves. The law previously allowed for those experiencing domestic abuse to do so and now protections will be extended to additional survivors.
  • In Texas, abortion providers will face new requirements on which procedures they can use and be forced to dispose of fetal tissue through burial or cremation, imposing higher costs and unnecessary regulation.
  • The U.S. Department of Education recently told its employees to continue investigating cases of discrimination against transgender students, despite the administration scaling back protections for transgender students in February. AAUW believes the memo raises more questions than it answers and we have serious concerns that it puts students’ rights to a discrimination-free education at risk.

Last week, over 700 AAUW members had the opportunity to storm Capitol Hill for the 2017 AAUW Lobby Day. Participants told their senators and representatives to protect and strengthen Title IX and advocated for ways to lower student debt, which disproportionately impacts women. From Alaska to Arkansas, California to Connecticut, and Nebraska to New York, AAUW members were pumped and ready to take the fight for gender equity directly to Congress.

Urge your senators to reject efforts to gut health care! The U.S. Senate is barreling toward a vote on a health care bill that would strip coverage for millions of Americans. We need all hands on deck to stop this dangerous effort from advancing. Click here to contact your senators and ask them to protect Americans’ health care.

Today we celebrate the 45th anniversary of Title IX. How has this groundbreaking law impacted your life? Tell us your story by tweeting@AAUWPolicy using#TitleIXat45 or submit your story here.

MenCare published the second edition of their State of the World’s Fathers report, which examines men’s involvement as caregivers worldwide. The report found that women contribute more to unpaid child care than men in every country in the world.

The National Partnership for Women and Families released Our Aging, Caring Nation this month, which discusses the state of paid family leave in the U.S. The report recommends  more comprehensive policy covering a wider range of family and medical needs.

The AARP Public Policy Institute recently published their annual Long-Term Services and Supports State Scorecard. The report provides a state-by-state comparative look at how states are meeting the needs of older adults, people with physical disabilities, and family caregivers.


What Does the Voucher School Landscape Look Like in My State? 
School choice issues are increasingly in the news and state legislatures, with proposals ranging from charter school authorization to voucher schemes. The Education Commission of the States recently released a short overview of school voucher programs in the states with important background and analysis. Currently 14 states and Washington, D.C. are home to 25 different voucher programs. These programs have varying eligibility requirements, accountability standards, and funding mechanisms. Check out their 50-state comparison to see how vouchers operate in your state.

Prioritizing Caregiver Leave
Paid, and even unpaid, leave from work to care for a newborn, a sick child, or personal illness is garnering more attention across the country. But too often, these policies focus solely on parental leave for an infant and do not provide support for individuals who are caring for other family members. What’s more, many people do not consider themselves caregivers, even if they are providing care for parents, siblings, or other adults. A new report from the National Partnership for Women and Families looks at proposed leave policies and makes recommendations to address the needs of the nation’s workers. While focused on a federal bill, the report includes important information about the components necessary for a good law that can be replicated at the state level. A comprehensive leave program should be available to all working people, apply equally to both men and women, cover the common reasons people require leave, offer at least 12 weeks of leave and replace a substantial portion of wages, be funded in a sustainable way that does not cut other essential programs, and protect workers from retaliation if they choose to take leave.

Announcing Two Minute Activist Mobile 
Many of you are already committed members of AAUW’s Action Network. You receive urgent e-mail notices when your advocacy is needed most, then take necessary action. Last year, members of AAUW’s Action Network sent over 200,000 email messages. Now, we are thrilled to announce the next step in AAUW’s grassroots advocacy program: Two-Minute Activist Mobile. This exciting new tool will allow AAUW to send more timely and targeted communication straight to your cell phone via SMS text messaging. That means we’ll be able to expand and enhance our advocacy for gender equity by providing you with more strategic opportunities to take action when we know doing so will make the difference. The Two Minute Activist Mobile program also includes some important new features, like the ability to call and connect you by phone directly with your legislators’ office. To subscribe to Two Minute Activist Mobile now, text the message “AAUW” to phone number 21333. We’ll be in touch – via text message – with urgent opportunities for you to make your voice heard to advance AAUW’s mission of gender equity.

Paid Sick Days Bills Fail in Maryland and Nevada
In April, the General Assembly of Maryland passed a bill that would have allowed over half a million Marylanders to earn paid sick days for the first time. But Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) vetoed the measure. Earlier this year, the General Assembly rejected Gov. Hogan’s version of the bill. Proponents of the bill hope to override the veto in January. Similarly, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) vetoed a bill that would have required some private employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Seven states, Washington, D.C., and 31 other jurisdictions have, or soon will have, paid sick days laws in place. States Take On Redistricting Reform

With the 2020 census looming, many states are taking a hard look at the way they draw electoral district boundaries. In fact, three-quarters of states introduced some sort of redistricting reform bill during the 2017 legislation session. These bills cover a range of proposals:

  • Establish a commission to draw districts.
  • Prohibit district lines from being drawn to favor or impede a political party or incumbent.
  • Prohibit the use of political data to draw districts.
  • Create or clarify the criteria for drawing maps.
  • Require public engagement in the redistricting process.

AAUW of Pennsylvania members are working hard on this issue and have developed excellent resources to advance redistricting reform in their state. Check them out and revise the tools for your own state advocacy.

Localities Leading the Way on Addressing Fair Scheduling for Workers
For many low-wage workers, an unpredictable schedule is part of the job. But a fluctuating schedule can make life difficult for workers, hampering their ability to provide care for family members, attend school, or take on a second job. Moreover, inconsistent hours lead to inconsistent paychecks. Research suggests that 2.78 million people work in on-call jobs or as day laborers. Many states and localities are looking to address these issues through legislation mandating more advance notice of schedules, compensation for on-call hours or last minute changes, adequate rest between shirts, and opportunities for full-time hours. New York City is the latest jurisdiction to pass such legislation, joining Seattle and several California cities in offering protections. In conjunction with equal pay, minimum wage, and paid leave laws, fair scheduling practices can improve the economic well-being of low-income women and their families.Idaho Staves Off Call for Constitutional Convention

Earlier this year, AAUW of Idaho provided strong advocacy and testimony to ensure that the state legislature voted down a call for a constitutional convention. The last, and only, constitutional convention was held in 1787, but a recent push in the states could mean a revisit to history. A constitutional convention is the lesser known, and less commonly used, way to amend the U.S. Constitution, but there is little guidance as to how this procedure is intended to work. In a 1979 resolution, AAUW stated its opposition to the calling of a constitutional convention. More recently, we’ve seen efforts to use a constitutional convention to force a balanced budget on the federal level, something AAUW opposes. There are also concerns that there is no legal way to limit the issues considered, potentially making a constitutional convention a free-for-all for special interests and a threat to civil rights. To order a constitutional convention, 34 state legislatures must vote in favor of it. Many have already done so, with Arizona and Wyoming joining the list in 2017. However, some states rescinded their previous calls to convention, such as Maryland and Nevada. The Wisconsin legislature is currently considering a proposal.

June Means Victory for State Equal Pay Bills
June has been a good month for state equal pay bills, with advocates notching several impressive wins. Puerto Rico led the 2017 charge by enacting a strong bill in March, but four other states recently added new laws to their books. To start the month, Gov. Kate Brown (D-OR) signed a comprehensive bill into law in Oregon. AAUW of Oregon members were instrumental in passing this bill, even earning a shout out from state Sen. Tim Knopp (R-Bend) on the senate floor. In Nevada, Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV) approved two equal pay bills, one protects employees who discuss or disclose their salaries, while the other bill creates a voluntary certification system for government contractors to ensure they are paying workers equally. Despite these important wins, AAUW of Nevada members were disappointed that the governor vetoed a third, stronger, equal pay bill. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed a bill that extends pay transparency protections to more workers, allowing additional individuals to openly discuss their wages without fear of retaliation. And just last week, Gov. John Carney (D-DE) gave the green light to a pay equity bill advanced by AAUW of Delaware. Hopefully more states join the party, especially Illinois, whose legislature passed state Rep. Anna Moeller’s (D-Elgin) bill through both chambers and now awaits Gov. Bruce Rauner’s (R-IL) signature.This Friday, June 23 marks the 45th anniversary of Title IX, the federal statute that prohibits sex discrimination in education. The law has opened classroom doors, laboratories, and playing fields to millions of women and girls since its passing.

AAUW will be marking the occasion with a Tweet Chat on #TitleIXat45 from 2:00 – 3:00 pm EST this Friday. We encourage you to join us by following @AAUWPolicy and chiming in using the hashtag on your personal or branch and state organization accounts. A few sample tweets are included below.

As chair of the National Coalition for Woman and Girls in Education, AAUW will also highlight the findings of the new NCWGE report Title IX: Advancing Opportunity through Equity in Education at a Capitol Hill briefing tomorrow.

Act Now: Urge Your Senators to Reject Efforts to Gut Health Care

Have you heard the news? The U.S. Senate is barreling toward a vote on a health care bill that would strip coverage for millions of Americans. What’s worse, this legislation has been drafted in secret, without adequate time for analysis, public debate, or even the opportunity for all lawmakers to read the bill.

AAUW believes that everyone deserves high-quality, affordable, and accessible health care. A repeal of the Affordable Care Act would eradicate years of progress in expanding health care access for women, including increasing out-of-pocket costs, causing premiums to skyrocket, eliminating coverage for Essential Health Benefits like maternity care, and gutting Medicaid.

We need all hands on deck to stop this dangerous effort from advancing. Call your senators now and ask them to protect Americans’ health care!

To reach your senators, dial (202) 224-3121 now and ask the switchboard operator to connect you. The message is simple:

My name is NAME and I am calling from CITY, STATE. As your constituent, I urge you to reject the American Health Care Act and any other effort that reduces access or does not provide the same level and quality of health care coverage for women and families.


Today, hundreds of AAUW advocates from across the country storm Capitol Hill to meet with their members of Congress in support of policies that advance AAUW’s mission of gender equity.

Help to magnify our impact by contacting your members of Congress now!

At this year’s Lobby Day, AAUW advocates will urge Congress to support women as they pursue their educations. Our focus is two-fold: recently released AAUW research shows that women in particular struggle with their student debt; and we also know that women and girls continue to face discrimination in schools.

It is imperative that Congress strengthen and protect federal financial aid, such as the Pell Grant program, and fully support the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in their work to implement and enforce Title IX.

Click here to send an email to your members of Congress to urge them to support these crucial policies.

By participating in AAUW’s Virtual Lobby Day, you’ll give AAUW a strong showing at the Capitol and help to advance legislation that makes a difference for women and girls. Take part now and be sure to follow along on social media using #AAUWLobbyDay.

Add your voice to the #AAUWLobbyDay Thunderclap now!

On Thursday, June 15, hundreds of AAUW advocates will storm Capitol Hill to urge their members of Congress to support policies that advance AAUW’s mission of gender equity. Whether you plan to participate in person or join the Virtual Lobby Day online, this is a powerful opportunity to raise awareness and take action.

We’ve made it easier than ever for you to lend your voice to our social media storm for gender equity.

Click here to add your name to our campaign, and Thunderclap will automatically schedule a Facebook and/or Twitter post for you on Lobby Day.

Then, follow and join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook by using the hashtag #AAUWLobbyDay throughout the day on June 15. The bigger our audience, the greater our impact. That’s why we need you to join the campaign today.

You provide the voice, let AAUW provide the megaphone. Together, we’ll send a powerful message to our nation’s capital. 

  • Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), released a press statement regarding the Department of Education’s new hire, Adam Kissel. Kissel previously expressed sentiments that undermine Title IX guidance and regulations.
  • Sources inside and outside the White House revealed that Uttam Dhillon, a White House lawyer, told federal agencies to ignore Congressional Democrats’ oversight requests. As such, the vast majority of oversight letters that Democratic legislators have sent to the new administration since January have not been answered.
  • A SurveyMonkey poll recently found that the majority of women ages 18-64 fear that they could be worse off if the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA) becomes law, while men are less likely to share that view. AAUW opposes the AHCA, which would severely limit access to health care for millions of women, putting their health, well-being, and economic security in jeopardy
  • A lawsuit against Philadelphia’s new wage equity law, the first to be passed by a U.S. city, was thrown out by a federal judge. This bill is a huge step forward in seeking to improve the wage gap for women and minorities in Philadelphia.
  • Last week, President Trump called for the U.S. Senate to end the practice of the filibuster so that legislation can pass with a simple majority. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) responded to the president, stating, “that will not happen.”
  • In a unanimous decision, a federal appeals court sided with Ash Whitaker, a transgender boy from Wisconsin, upholding his right to use the boys’ bathroom in school. Under Title IX, schools are prohibited from discriminating against students based on sex.
  • Planned Parenthood issued a statement of concern after a draft regulation regarding birth control coverage leaked last week. If issued in the same format, this rule would dramatically expand the number of employers and schools eligible to opt-out of providing contraceptive coverage to women based on moral or religious convictions. 

Cheer of the Week

In response to a sexist email calling women the “second rate gender,” Austin, TX Mayor Steve Adler wrote a powerful rebuke and commended the accomplishments of women. The writer of the email threatened to boycott Austin after a local theater hosted a women-only screening of the movie Wonder Woman.

Faribault Renames Its Airport in Honor of WASP, Elizabeth Wall Strohfus

The AAUW Faribault (MN)  Branch successfully advocated for the renaming of their local airport after Elizabeth Wall Strohfus, who served in World War II as a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot (WASP). Strohfus, like other WASP, failed to receive any recognition for her years of service to the United States. In the 1980s she began to lobby for WASP to be recognized as active military duty and for burial honors at Arlington National Cemetery, and she was successful. Strohfus’ legacy will be memorialized in her hometown airport, now officially named the Faribault Municipal Airport—Liz Wall Strohfus Field.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Rebuffs Department of Education Budget Proposal
This week, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee to defend the Administration’s proposed FY18 education budget. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were quick to push back on comments from the secretary, with the most poignant interactions questioning whether private schools that receive federal funds would not discriminate against students. AAUW opposes the use of public funds for nonpublic elementary and secondary education, which may not be required to adhere to civil rights and accountability standards. Senators were quick to highlight that significant spending cuts to the Department of Education budget will have negative effects on students.  

Urge your Representative to Co-Sponsor the Pay Equity for All Act

It’s commonplace in the working world for employers to ask about previous wages, and to use that information to set wages in a new job. But this seemingly innocuous practice can actually have major repercussions. Why? Because it can contribute to the perpetuation of the pay gap many women and people of color face in their careers.

Relying on an individual’s salary history to set her future wage assumes that those prior salaries were fairly established. But if a worker faced a pay gap (and thus lost wages) at one job – perhaps because of bias or even outright discrimination – basing her next job’s salary on the one prior only continues that pay gap. 

Click here to tell your Representative salary history has got to go!

The Pay Equity for All Act (H.R. 2418) would ban the use of salary history in the hiring process. That’s because salary history questions can introduce bias and discrimination into the recruitment process of a company earnestly trying to avoid it. What does prior pay have to do with a worker’s ability to perform in this new position? And shouldn’t a worker be compensated based on what her skills (and the job in question) are worth to the new company, rather than based on a different job she did in the past?

Use of salary histories ensures bias and discrimination follow workers wherever they go, whatever their job, no matter their abilities. Curtailing this practice will go a long way in our fight for pay equity. 

Urge your Representative to co-sponsor the Pay Equity for All Act (H.R. 2418) and help to close the wage gap!

Bits and Pieces

  • AAUW joined nearly 20 advocacy groups in filing an amicus brief calling on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reconsider its ruling that employers can pay men and women unequally based on differences in their prior salaries. The amicus brief contends that the decision undermines the intention of the Equal Pay Act. AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund plaintiff and AAUW member Aileen Rizo brought the original case after learning that a less-experienced male colleague received a higher salary.
  • After a 60-day delay, an Obama-era fiduciary rule requiring financial advisors to act in the best interests of their clients when giving retirement advice will take effect June 9. The U.S. Department of Labor will seek public comments on revisions to this AAUW-supported rule.
  • New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that, for the first time, women aged 30 to 34 have the highest birthrate of any age group in the U.S. Access to birth control and fertility treatments, as well as the lack of workplace policies to accommodate new mothers, are cited as reasons many women are delaying motherhood.
  • A study by economist Sari Kerr cites marriage and motherhood as key contributors to the widening pay gap throughout women’s twenties and thirties. The negative effects of marriage and children on salary are especially profound for college-educated women.
  • In an advisory opinion, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court indicated that the state’s ranked-choice voting system, which was approved by voters in a referendum last November, violates the state constitution. It is now up to the state’s legislature to act by either repealing the measure or starting the process of amending the state constitution to allow for ranked-choice voting.
  • Penn State University will begin issuing fraternity and sorority “report cards” that will list each organization’s status and conduct history. A response to several hazing incidents, these report cards will allow students and parents to utilize previously unavailable disciplinary data to inform their decision about Greek life at Penn State.

Jeer of the Week

On Monday, the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill that would require transgender students to use school bathrooms that correspond to the sex they were assigned at birth. AAUW opposed a similar law passed in North Carolina in 2016, because all students should have equal access to education, regardless of gender.

State Spotlight

The Oregon Equal Pay Act of 2017 is headed to Gov. Kate Brown’s (D-OR) desk after unanimous passage in the Senate. The House also unanimously re-passed the final version of the bill. AAUW of Oregon members worked tirelessly to ensure that a strong bill made it through the legislative process, even earning a shout-out on the Senate floor from Republican Deputy Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend), who referencedAAUW’s decades of work on the issue along with the Association of Collegiate Alumnae (AAUW’s predecessor) and its 1896 report on pay equity.

CBO Report Finds House-passed Health Care Bill Would Leave 23 Million More People Uninsured
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and members of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) released a report estimating that the House-passed health care bill would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion, but would cause 23 million more people to lose coverage in 2026. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) would allow states to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions and to change their requirements for covering essential health benefits including prevention screenings and emergency room visits. CBO projected that these changes would lower premiums for healthy people, but increase costs for the nation’s most vulnerable populations. The AHCA also threatens coverage of key services for women, such as maternity care and birth control coverage, and defunds Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides access to important preventative care for people of all genders. Republican senators voiced concerns over passage of the bill, citing major changes needed to gain a 50-member majority vote (Vice President Mike Pence is the tie breaking vote in such circumstances). AAUW opposes the House-passed version of the AHCA because it would weaken women’s access to affordable, quality health coverage and put the health, well-being, and economic security of millions of families in jeopardy.

President Trump’s Budget Proposes Massive Cuts to Education, Medicaid, and More
President Donald Trump’s newly released $4.1 trillion federal budget seeks massive cuts to many executive departments and agencies, including the U.S. Departments of State, Labor, and Education. To offset increases to the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Defense, the president’s proposed budget cuts Medicaid by $800 billion over ten years and eliminates 66 programs. This includes the proposed elimination of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program (OFCCP, which enforces civil rights with federal contractors) as well as the cutting of all Women’s Bureau regional offices, both of which would undermine equal employment opportunities. Although Pell grants are included in the president’s budget, the U.S. Department of Education, facing a 13.6 percent funding cut, would see staff reductions in the Office of Civil Rights; the elimination of subsidized student loans, campus-based childcare funding, and public service loan forgiveness; and a $1.2 billion cut for after-school programs, many of which serve low-income students. Congress controls the purse strings, however, and will ultimately decide which budget proposals will become law.

It is possible for someone who works full time, 52-weeks a year, to make only $15,080 annually – a salary below the federal poverty line for a family of two. With women making up two-thirds of those working minimum wage jobs,increasing the federal minimum wage is a women’s issue. Women, particularly women of color, are disproportionately impacted by low pay.Urge your senators and representative to fight for working women and raise the federal minimum wage!

Urge your members of Congress to reject President Donald Trump’s budget proposal. If enacted, the recently released Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal would have a severe and detrimental impact on women’s economic security, access to education, and civil rights for all. Congress must reject the president’s budget and pass one that supports women and families, instead of harming them.

Tell Congress: Protect Women and Families in the Federal Budget

AAUW believes the federal budget should be an expression of our values and a signal of where women and girls stand in the government’s priorities.

Yet, yesterday President Donald Trump released a budget proposal that, if enacted, would have a severe and detrimental impact on women and families’ economic security, access to education, and civil rights. The president’s budget proposal does not have the power of law, because Congress controls the power of the purse. However, it does reflect the priorities of the administration, and what we’ve seen is troubling.

It is up to Congress to reject President Trump’s budget and instead pass one that supports women and families, not harms them.

Urge your members of Congress to reject President Trump’s budget proposal now!

The Trump Administration’s budget includes harmful proposals such as:

  • Slashing key programs that make it possible for women to go to college. The budget would eliminate subsidized student loans and public service loan forgiveness, cut the Pell grant program, and zero-out funding for on-campus childcare.
  • Investing in further research on private school vouchers, even though the most recent studies demonstrate that vouchers have not improved student achievement.
  • Cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the Medicaid program, putting health care out of reach of those most in need. In addition, and for the first time in history, the budget proposal would prevent Planned Parenthood from participating in federal programs including providing cancer screenings funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helping with Zika virus prevention, providing HIV/AIDS testing and prevention, using Violence Against Women Act grants to prevent sexual assault, and engaging in maternal and child health programs.
  • Reducing staff in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the office that enforces Title IX. The President’s proposal eliminates about 40 crucial positions.
  • Eliminating the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs at the U.S. Department of Labor, which enforces protections against discrimination – including pay discrimination – for employees of federal contractors. Reassigning this office’s functions to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission would be a grave mistake that undermines equal employment opportunities.

While AAUW is pleased to see the year-round Pell program included in the president’s budget and appreciate the Administration’s commitment to paid parental leave, both proposals have flaws that must be addressed. The administration’s budget proposal cuts Pell grants overall, creating a tradeoff that is unacceptable. And the optional, state-based paid parental leave program falls short of the type of paid family and medical leave program working families need by leaving out many workers.

Congress needs to know this proposal simply won’t do. Tell your members of Congress to protect women and families in the federal budget and reject the president’s proposal. 

Tell Your Senators to Oppose Faux Flexibility Legislation

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the deceptively named Working Families Flexibility Act (H.R. 1180/S. 801), a faux flex-time proposal that would result in a loss of overtime pay for millions of working people.

Now, it’s up to the Senate to stop this harmful legislation from advancing. Click here to write your Senators and tell them to oppose the Working Families Flexibility Act now!

The Working Families Flexibility Act claims to offer flexibility to employees by allowing them to convert overtime work into paid time off (“comp time”) for family responsibilities. What it really does is erode longstanding overtime protections and create a law that would offer hardworking people a false choice between time off and money earned.

AAUW is committed to greater availability of and access to a high standard of benefits and policies that promote work-life balance, which are critical to achieving economic self-sufficiency for all women. The Working Families Flexibility Act would provide the exact opposite – cutting overtime pay and limiting flexibility for working families and women.

Take action to stop this harmful legislation from advancing. Urge your Senators to oppose the Working Families Flexibility Act now. 

89 Percent of Colleges Reported Zero Incidents of Rape in 2015: What You Can Do About It
Newly updated data required by the Clery Act indicate that the annual statistics collected by colleges and universities still do not tell the full story of sexual violence on campus. AAUW’s analysis of the 2015 Clery data revealed the following:

  • Eighty-nine percent of college campuses disclosed zero reported incidences of rape in 2015. With about 11,000 campuses providing annual crime data, an overwhelming majority of schools certified that in 2015 they did not receive a single report of rape.
  • For 2015 about 9 percent of campuses disclosed a reported incident of domestic violence, around 10 percent disclosed a reported incident of dating violence, and about 13 percent of campuses disclosed a reported incident of stalking. So in each of these categories as well, most campuses did not disclose any reported incidents in 2015.
  • Among the main or primary campuses of colleges and universities with enrollment of at least 250 students, 73 percent disclosed zero rape reports in 2015.
  • The 2015 numbers show that campuses that reported one type of sexual violence often disclosed reports of other types. This suggests that some schools have built the necessary systems to welcome and handle reports, support survivors, and disclose accurate statistics — and others have not.

Though our analysis shows that disclosures are lacking, colleges and universities are required to report this data—you can check up on your college or university here. However, elementary and secondary schools are not required. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia do track student sexual assaults, but that information is also often incomplete. If you are concerned about these issues, make sure that Title IX coordinators in your area understand their critical role in making schools more equitable and safe. Our interactive maps help you find your local Title IX coordinators at both K-12 schools and colleges and universities, and this tool explains how your branch can participate in AAUW’s Title IX delivery project. Branches have taken on this project throughout the past year, and made over 700 deliveries in 28 states nationwide. Let’s make it happen at every school in all 50 states!

Battles Over Voting Access Continue in the States
From redistricting to new ways to cast ballots to requirements that limit access to the polls, who gets to vote and how they do it is a continual hot topic at the state level. Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal in a case regarding a restrictive North Carolina voting law. The lower court previously struck down the law, finding that it attempted to restrict and “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” Similarly, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that Texas lawmakers intentionally diluted the political power of minority voters in drawing legislative districts. Both rulings are major wins for voting rights advocates, but other threats persist across the country. North Dakota recently passed a bill addressing voter identification in an attempt to respond to a previous court ruling on the matter. Those who oppose the bill argue that it still will not pass constitutional muster. In New Hampshire, the Senate cleared a bill that would put new restrictions in place that would make it harder for low-income individuals and students to vote. It is under consideration in the House. On the other hand, a Same Day Registration bill has passed the Alaska House and is under consideration in the Senate.

Making Child Care Affordable and Accessible
For women to achieve economic and social equity, there must be greater availability and access to child care and related supports. Not only would these reforms benefit women, but children need good care and early learning opportunities to set them up for the rest of their lives. As it stands, most families cannot afford adequate care, particularly low-wage families. Families in Washington, D.C. are hit the hardest, with less than 10 percent of families able to afford infant care and less than a quarter able to afford care for four-year olds. South Dakota families fare the best, with nearly 60 percent able to afford infant care, and over 65 percent affording care for four-year olds. But that still leaves a significant gap. A new report points to the lack of uniform paid leave, high child care costs, inadequate reach of subsidies for low-income families, and poor and uneven quality of early child care and education as factors that must be addressed. In order to assess possible remedies, policymakers should ask the following questions:

  • Do all parents have the option to stay home with their infants, newly adopted children, or new foster children?
  • Is the cost burden of early child care and education eased for low- and middle-income families?
  • Are there investments in the early child care and education workforce?

Bringing these considerations to the forefront during policy discussions will help to create systems that produce the results we need for all families.

YWTFJ Jax Public Policy Updates by Charlotte Cudd

AAUW Jacksonville Public Policy By Carolyn Smith


  2. Submitted by Sen. Deb Fisher, this bill is to AAUW “a do-nothing, disingenuous bill that does not strengthen

existing pay equity protections and could harm women by giving a false sense of security.” b. AAUW advocates, instead, for legislation that would offer, promote, regulate, and enforce pay equity,

protect employees, and guide employers in procedures for salary negotiations.

  2. This bill has moved through the House Committee on Education and the Workplace. b. AAUW protests because “flexibility” means that employers can cut overtime pay and limit flexibility in

paternal and sick leaves, thus harming working women in particular.

  2. AAUW’s Public Policy 2015-17 advocates for “increased access to quality and affordable health care” and

expansion of “patients’ rights and choices.” b. AAUW protests the current US House’s AHC because it limits access to quality and affordable health care for

many more people than allowed under the Affordable Care Act of 2011. Also, unlike the ACA, the American Health Care limits choices and rights.


  1. AAUW will continue advocating for its Public Policy Program, 2015-17, especially during its ongoing lobby days

and especially during its National Convention, June 14-17. 2. AAUW recommends Reconnecting Justice.

This study of the Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success shows connections between education, jobs, and the criminal justice system. This offers material that helps AAUW in its advocacy in its public policy 2015-17 to ensure full access to civil and constitutional rights and freedom not only from violence but also freedom from fear of violence. 3. AAUW cheers Astronaut Peggy Winston.

In late April, she broke the record for longest consecutive days in space, surpassing the 534-day record. By the time she returns to Earth this fall, she will have spent 666 days in space. 4. AAUW jeers male justices and advocates at the Supreme Court.

A study of the Harvard Business Week shows that males interrupt Supreme Court female justices three times more than they interrupt each other during oral arguments. 5. AAUW accepts the US Dept. of Education’s study of SOAR (D. C.’s voucher program, called Scholarships for

Opportunity and Results). The voucher students scored much lower on standardized math and reading tests than public students without vouchers.