Making AAUW More Inclusive; New Executive Director Makes Reaching out to Women of Color a Priority. (Special Report: Women in Higher Education)

By Brotherton, Phaedra | Black Issues in Higher Education, March 28, 2002 | Go to article overview

Making AAUW More Inclusive; New Executive Director Makes Reaching out to Women of Color a Priority. (Special Report: Women in Higher Education)


Brotherton, Phaedra, Black Issues in Higher Education


Jacqueline Woods

* Title: Executive Director, American Association of University Women

* Previous Title: Director, Community Colleges Liaison Office, U.S. Department of Education

* Education: Bachelor's, Speech Pathology, Michigan State University; M.Ed., Wayne State University

When the board members of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) hired Jacqueline Woods as their new executive director, they wanted to send a strong message that the 150,000-member advocacy organization was looking to be inclusive.

That's a message Woods, the AAUW's first African American executive director, has been committed to sending, evident in the outreach and diversity efforts she has focused on during her nearly two years in the role.

"I feel strongly there are major inequities in women and girls accessing major streams in our academic, professional and social environments," says Woods. "As a Black woman, I am too painfully aware of the stereotypes and assumptions that others can make about the abilities, needs and expectations of `those left out.' I want to have a voice in providing that education."

The AAUW is an individual member organization with more than 1,500 branches nationwide that lobbies and advocates for gender equity in education for all women and girls.

Three entities make up AAUW:

* The association -- the lobbying and advocacy arm -- influences debate on education, sex discrimination, civil rights, reproductive choice, affirmative action, Title IX, welfare reform, vocational education, pay equity, family and medical leave, and health care reform.

* The AAUW Educational Foundation, one of the largest funding sources exclusively for graduate women, offers scholarships for women pursuing professions where women are underrepresented. It also funds research on girls and education, community action projects, and special symposia and forums.

* The AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund provides funding and a support system for women in higher education fighting discriminatory practices in sexual harassment, denial of tenure and promotion, pay inequity and inequality in women's athletics programs.

Woods, whose 30-plus year career in education includes classroom teaching, national education policy-making and higher education administration and governance, says one of her major goals is getting the three separate entities to work more closely together.

Woods hopes a unified effort will increase membership and get more women -- particularly women of color and younger, professional women -- involved in addressing education equity issues by offering them options to participate in public policy, research, scholarship programs or community programs.

Woods says the 120-year-old AAUW often has been viewed as an exclusive organization for college-educated White women who wanted a vehicle for their philanthropic and community activities. …

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