Equity is still an issue!


The Lilly

Lilly Ledbetter worked for Akron-based Goodyear for more than 20 years when she discovered she was paid significantly less than her male counterparts. She filed a lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and won.  She was awarded back pay and other remedies in a jury trial.

Of course, the company appealed; they appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court. In a hard to believe decision, the court ruled that Ledbetter had to file her suit within 180 days of when the pay discrimination began, not within 180 days of when she found out she had received less pay. So she lost her back pay.

That law was changed yesterday. After a hard-fought battle in the Senate, with our Senator Voinivich voting NO, Congress voted to change the law.  Yesterday President Barack Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. People– including women– are now permitted to file a claim for paycheck discrimination whenever they learn of it.

Statistics on women in the workplace speak to the need for action. American Association of University  Women research shows that the average women earns 78 cents for every dollar a man earns, and that this wage gap begins just one year out of college and continues throughout a woman’s life.  The wage gap not only affects a woman’s paycheck. It affects her ability to provide for her family and her retirement.   

This case and subsequent legislation serves as a message to us all that the fight for equality is not over for women and minorities. Too often we think the work of the ’60s and ’70s is completed. But obviously it isn’t.

So if you are a young woman and find out you are making the same as the men  in your job, don’t think, “See, I knew all that feminist stuff was bull.”  Instead, thank women who have been fighting these battles for more than 40 years and every once in a while achieve a victory.

And, join them.

Ledbetter, having lost in the United States Supreme Court, will receive no financial benefit from the bill that bears her name. But you might!

For more information on pay equity visit www.aauw.org.

Attend an event

In February, the University of Akron and the Women’s Studies program will be having several programs of particular interest to women.

Monday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p.m., CNN Democratic strategist and adjunct professor of Women’s Studies at Georgetown University Donna Brazile, will speak at E.J. Thomas Hall.  Tickets are available in the Women’s Studies office at 58 Schrank Hall North. The program is part of the University’s Rethinking Race program.

Kimberly Dark is Women Studies’ contribution to the Rethinking Race programs. She will present Feb. 10 in the student union Gardner Theatre at 7 p.m.. Through interactive activities and lecture audience members will learn about U.S. wealth distribution and the differing realities of wealth accumulation based on race and gender. Through humor, facts and statistics, you will discover how poverty is not just a personal problem.

In preparation for the upcoming Vagina Monologues Women’s Studies will present two programs. The video, “Until the Violence Stops”  will be presented Monday,  Feb. 9, at 4 p.m. in room 133, College of Arts and Sciences.  The video examines Eve Ensler’s work with violence worldwide and the way presenting the Vagina Monologues helps to fight it.

On Tuesday Feb. 10, a teach-in on Women of the Congo will be held in room 335 Student Union Theatre from 5-7 p.m. The teach-in will include a powerpoint on the history of the Congo and the current atrocities being committed against women and children there.

The Vagina  Monologues will be presented Feb. 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. in Leigh Hall’s John S. Knight Auditorium. Tickets are $8 for University affiliates and $12 for the general public. Ten percent of the proceeds from this year’s Vagina Monologues will go to help stop violence against women in the  Congo and ninety percent will go the Summit Medina County Rape Crisis Center. For information call 330-972-7008 or e-mail millhof@uakron.edu.

Other upcoming programs of interest are:

  • Minority women in Local Newspapers. Feb. 3, 9 a.m. 3rd Floor Student Union (above Starbucks).
  • Budgeting, saving and credit reports.  Feb. 3, 7 p.m. Terri Campanelli of Consumer Credit Counseling.  Schrank Hall South Room 222.
  • Coeds  Go Red. Feb. 4. Noon. Student Union Ballroom A.  Free lunch. Reservations required. joanna.franks@heart.org.
  • Self defense class. Feb. 24. 5:30 p.m. Memorial Hall room 126.
  • Socially Responsible Investing.  Feb. 24, 7 p.m. Karen Dumont, Calvert Funds.  Schrank Hall South Room 222.
  • Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft. March 3, 7 p.m.  Kimberly Ray of National City Bank. Room 222 Schrank Hall South.

See you there.

Thanks to Title IX, UA women beat Kent

ua-womens-bballWith all the inauguration festivities and publicity, a major event on our campus was overlooked by many. The University of Akron women’s basketball team beat the Kent State team for the first team in ten years.

It was also important to Coach Jodi Kest because it was her 250th win as a coach.

But the news that you really might have missed was that I, Pat Millhoff, director of Women’s Studies and associate professor of public service technology at UA, was the guest coach for the night. So, while Jodi has 250 wins under her belt, I am undefeated.

When one of my students asked me if I would like to be a guest coach I didn’t quite know what to expect. When I played basketball it was girl’s basketball. We wore our little bloomer gymsuits and identified our teams by little bibs in two different colors tied on either side of our bodies. I think they were called pinnies.

We divided up into teams of six, not five. Girls weren’t allowed to sweat, so only four of the twelve girls on the court at any given time were allowed to move over half court. They were the roving guard and roving forward for each team.

I always prayed I would get to be the rover. To actually be able to move up and down the court was a major feat.

The other important rule that is thankfully gone is that each girl could only dribble the ball three times. Dribble, dribble, dribble, pass. Dribble, dribble, dribble, pass.

If a team scored 10 points they were really going strong. How many points can you score when more than half the team has its feet stuck in the mud and the star can only dribble three times then has to throw to the girl who wishes she was anywhere other than on the basketball court?

I have gone to our women’s games before. But there is something special about sitting on the bench that is not for the faint of heart. The coaches are screaming out plays, stomping their feet and waving wildly. The team, even those on the bench, are intense, watching each move as though their lives depend on it. As guest coach I decided my best approach would be just to stay out of everyone’s way. Sometimes I succeeded.

In the locker room I also discovered basketball is a game of strategy and intellect. Not the old throw the ball to the girl who might make a basket but major play calling utilizing scouting information and the skill of each team member.

These women are strong; they are athletes, not girls pretending to play a game, but talented team members demonstrating their skills.  They have worked hard to be good enough to play for a MAC school, and the muscles in their arms and legs show it.

At the end of the game they were as exhausted as if they had run a long distance race. And when you think about it, each had.

I am lucky enough to have had several women athletes in my classes since I have taught here. They are smart, dedicated, fun and talented.

I respect them and want to thank them for what they have taught me. They have taught me that Title IX isn’t just something we talk about in Women’s Studies; its real. Women really do get in the game.

And for a very short while, I got to be part of it. I respect and admire all of them. So team, thanks for letting me get a glimpse into your world, if only for a very short while.

Remaking America: One view of the Inauguration

Carol Jenkins

Carol Jenkins

Carol Jenkins, president of the Women’s Media Center, says she witnessed a day that will change her family and our nation, as Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States of America.

And she leaves us with a charge to tell the stories of the women, the poor and the vulnerable of the world.

Read the full story on the Women’s Media Center Web site.

Women worth knowing on Inauguration Day 2009

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth. Ida B. Wells Barnett. Anna Julia Cooper. Do you recognize these names?

Most of us don’t, and that’s why I am writing this post on Martin Luther King Day 2009, the day before the inauguration of Barack Obama, our first black president and a man who identifies as a feminist.

These black women — and many others — worked to give women of all races the vote. And today that seems more important than ever.

Here is a little bit about these three important women:

Sojourner Truth was a former slave who became a long-term presence in national social movements. She traveled the country speaking out for the abolition of slavery, women’s rights and suffrage, among other causes. Her most famous speech was given at a women’s rights convention in Akron, Ohio, in 1851, “Ain’t I a Woman?”. A building in Akron is named after her.

Ida B. Wells Barnett was a teacher and journalist who led an anti-lynching campaign in the late 19th century. A woman’s rights activist, she organized the Alpha Suffrage club for black women in Chicago and brought a group of members to the 1913 suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. When white organizers told her group to march at the end of the parade, she refused. As the parade went on, she stepped out from the sidelines and joined white marchers from Illinois. Wells Barnett was a founding member of the NAACP and the National Association for Colored Women.

Anna Julia Cooper was born a slave. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oberlin College in Ohio and a doctorate from the Sorbonne in Paris. She was a staunch advocate for women’s rights, including suffrage. In 1892 she published A Voice from the South by a Black Woman from the South. In 1893, she spoke at the World’s Congress of Representative Women in Chicago. She also spoke at the 1900 Pan-African Congress Conference in London. She was effective at persuading black women that they needed the vote. She helped found the Colored Women’s YWCA in Washington, D.C.

Learn more about African American women who helped make history by visiting the Web page for Freedom’s Sisters, a traveling exhibit honoring 20 key women from the civil rights movement. It is now on display at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal.

Get the buzz on the Ms. magazine Obama cover

2009wintercoverThe buzz continues on the Barack Obama Ms. cover for its Special Inaugural Issue. Some people think it’s great. Some people don’t.

CNN featured the debate yesterday, even though the issue is not yet available on newsstands.

No wonder. It’s not every day Ms. puts a man on the cover, which this time was a design created by illustrator Tim O’Brien.

Here’s the story according to Ms.:

In choosing the cover for this special inaugural issue, Ms. wanted to capture both the national and feminist mood of high expectations and hope as the 44th President of the United States takes the oath of office. And Ms. embraced the opportunity to tell the world men can be feminist too!

When publisher of Ms., Eleanor Smeal, and the chair of the Feminist Majority Foundation board, Peg Yorkin, met Barack Obama, he immediately offered, “I am a feminist.” And better yet, he ran on the strongest platform for women’s rights of any major party in American history. Feminist Karen Kornbluh, the platform’s principle author, ensured women’s rights, opportunities, advancement, and issues were addressed throughout the historic document.

Like the poster so much that you want a copy for yourself? You can get it by becoming a Ms. member. Or you can order the poster alone. Visit the Ms. site for details.

The connection between economics and reproductive freedom

As Congress works through the economic stimulus package, representatives need to keep in mind the connection between a woman’s need to determine her reproductive life and her ability to contribute to economic recovery and growth, according to Gloria Feldt.

Read the full story on the Women’s Media Center Web site.

Economic stimulus plan will create jobs for women too

Slightly fewer than half of the estimated 3.6 million new jobs that will be created by President-elect Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan will go to women, according to recent predictions.

Read more from Christina Romer, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and watch the YouTube video.