Opportunity knocking: How students can be involved in the American Association for University Women
On October the 4th, a representative from the American Association of University Women came to Blue Mountain College to speak to some of its students about the opportunities the organization offers for young women and men.
Dr. Kay Brocato, president of the Mississippi AAUW, said that the organization has been around for over a hundred years. Their vision is “equity for women and girls,” which in the long term means equality for all, not just women but men as well. She explained it like this: “If the ocean rises, it is not just one boat that rises with it; all the ships rise together with the water.”
Dr. Brocato detailed that the AAUW works on “national, state, and local levels. At each of these levels, there are branches that carry out different projects.” She went on to explain that there are eight different branches in Mississippi, many of them attached to college campuses such as Blue Mountain. These branches are active in many different ways. One project that the Starkville branch is currently actively involved in is the prevention of domestic violence and the establishment of safehouses for women.
Another project that the organization is concerned with on the national level is equal pay for women. “There’s still an inequity for the lower income levels which is what we’re most interested in seeing close the gap. If we can feed, clothe, and put a roof over the head of the youngest members of our state by closing the gap at the lowest income bracket, then we will have done great things.” Brocato mentioned that the focus is primarily on lower income brackets, as the pay gap in higher income levels, while still present, does not mean as much to the families as it does to those of more impoverished women. “My intention with this work is to serve those in income brackets that would really see a difference if there were pay equity.”
Dr. Brocato spoke of her personal experience with the AAUW as “touching at the humanity, for me. Personally, I had three children, finishing a Ph.D., a husband who was an entertainer and a professional in his day-job. These awesome women continued to tell me I needed to join AAUW.”
As she became more involved in the organization, she described how the work truly began to capture her heart and helped her to feel she was making a difference. In addition, she found mentoring and fellowship among the women of the AAUW. “When I’m with them, I really feel like I’m with my people.” She encourages other young women to join the organization not only for the great impact they make in gaining equality for women and girls, but also for the sense of belonging and accomplishment of civic duty. It affords women the chance to make a difference outside of their home life and be involved in issues that concern the world at large. “As a student, it is critical to join an organization which you do have some passion and heart for, because... you need those various groups to practice your basic civic duties.”
Students who attended the lecture Dr. Brocato gave left with a greater understanding of what the AAUW is and what it stands for, as well as a a greater awareness of the issues they are striving to eliminate. It is to be hoped that some of them, and maybe even some of you, will chose to become involved in this organization and their mission of equality.