Welcome to the Reading (PA) Branch of AAUW

AAUW MISSION STATEMENT

AAUW promotes equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research.

DIVERSITY STATEMENT

AAUW values and seeks a diverse membership. There shall be no barriers to full participation in this organization on the basis of gender, race, creed, age, or sexual orientation.

AAUW provides many opportunities for women to explore their interests.  Books, foods, the arts, trips, whatever, but always with a focus on the role of women.  Our goal is to foster and encourage women “to stand up and be counted”

Click here to download the current issue of our local newsletter BRANCHLINES

          Click here to download the latest issue of The Keystoner

The Keystoner is published four times a year, this newsletter shares information about our work across the state.  We invite you to be a part of the exciting things happening across the state and to participate in AAUW Pennsylvania activities.  The Keystoner will keep you informed.

2023-2024 Membership Form

Wednesday, June 12 2024 – 4.30 P.M. Annual Picnic followed by Ice Cream Social.
Red Bridge Park (Bathrooms and parking available)
We will be inviting the senior girls and scholarship recipients to have dessert with us at 6 P.M, so plan to stay for dessert!

Book Bonanza Update

Berks Book Bonanza has a new permanent home

The organization signed an agreement with the county that will house the book sale at the Berks County South Campus for at least the next five years.

Berks County officials will sublease a portion of its South Campus in Mohnton to the Berks Book Bonanza for at least the next five years. (KAREN SHUEY - READING EAGLE)

Berks County officials will sublease a portion of its South Campus in Mohnton to the Berks Book Bonanza for at least the next five years.

Book Bonanza is run by a small army of volunteers from Friends of Berks County Libraries and the local branch of the American Association of University Women. The proceeds from the sale are split evenly between the two groups.

The last sale, held in 2021, raised nearly $105,000 for the nonprofit organizations.

The agreement will provide just under 9,800 square feet of warehouse space for the book sale at the South Campus at 400 E. Wyomissing Ave. It will also provide use of a loading dock, 15 parking spaces and use of the building’s multipurpose room between June 1 and July 31 each year.

While the deal is initially for five years, it includes language that allows it to be extended in two-year increments up to 10 times.

In addition to giving Book Bonanza a place to store its materials, the new site will also play host to the public sale portion of the Book Bonanza. Possible dates for the next Book Bonanza remain under consideration.

Congratulations to our awardees for the AAUW State Awards:

  • Outstanding Woman

Awarded to a member of the branch for meritorious service to the branch and to the community. A one sentence summary is requested.

Joan Cook is recognized for her years’ long work on the Book Sale and recognition of senior girls. She was also a member of the Berks Co. Family and Consumer Science Association.

  • Member Making a Difference

The Member Making a Difference Award is given to a branch member who has made a big difference in something important to the branch within the last year. The branch selects this recipient because she (or he) exemplifies the spirit of AAUW.

Carol Toomey – Carol did so much for the branch in this past year. As Chair of the 100th Anniversary committee, she pulled together the luncheon, prepared the slides and made the presentation at the luncheon and for posterity at BCTV. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqNe476LZD4&t=110s.   Carol chaired our participation in two events which brought recognition to the Branch: the LunaFest and the City of Readings 275th Anniversary Parade.  She’s involved in many other local organizations.

  • Gateway to Equity awards

The AAUW Pennsylvania Gateway to Equity Award honors an individual, group or organization that has shown by action and philosophy the promotion of the AAUW mission to advance gender equity for women and girls through research, education, and advocacy.  It celebrates International Women’s Day which is held annually on March 8.

Women2Women of the Berks County Chamber Alliance has been nominated for this award.  Women2Women offers a forum for women to create connections, gain knowledge, and build strategic alliances to foster their personal potential and career advancement.  W2W is a catalyst for developing women leaders and connecting women from diverse backgrounds to learn, share ideas, and mentor each other. In 2023 we hosted events connecting future female leaders to professional women, including a networking event to learn about other organizations.  And, in 2024 we are hosting three events in Spanish called De Mujer a Mujer which is the next step to reaching more women.

  • Named Gift Honoree

The named Gift Honoree  recognizes an individual who make donations to national throughout the calendar year. Our thanks to Ann Wenrich for her continued support of AAUW throughout the year.

100th Anniversary Update

BCTV 100th Anniversary presentation. Anyone who missed it or would like to see it again can go to this website:

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqNe476LZD4&t=110s

AAUW 2024 Revised Bylaws

The revised bylaws were voted on at the March membership meeting. The first 7 sections were mandated by AAUW National and have been approved by the Board in keeping with their directives. The remaining sections have wording that compares the original to the suggested revisions that the Board has recommended. Follow this link to read online.

It’s Personal

By Judith Kraines, Public Policy Chair

March 12th is Equal Pay Day 2024.  It’s the date white women, working 62 weeks, earn the same amount as men, in the same job, earn working 52 weeks.  For Black, Brown, and other women, Equal Pay Days come later in the year.  The following information from AAUW shows how difficult it is to earn what we deserve.  The differences begin in grade school.

 The intersection of race and gender K-12 and college:

Inequities persist.  Black students are punished more harshly and more frequently than white students for similar offences.  US Department of Education data shows Black girls are much more likely to be suspended or receive referrals to law enforcement than are White girls.

AAUW supports policies like the Counseling Not Criminalization Act, which provide money and resources to schools, and that increase the presence of mental and behavioral health personnel in schools.  These steps have been shown to improve educational outcomes, increase attendance and graduation rates, and lower the rates of suspension.

Black women take on more student loan debt to acquire a degree.  And they face a pay gap that is wider than for other women.  Thus it is harder for them to pay off that debt, and the inequity persists through retirement.

AAUW supports closing the gender, ethnic, and racial gaps in education and employment.

A small step toward equal pay:

Fifteen years after passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, women are still paid less than men in comparable jobs.  The White House recently made one small improvement.  It banned the use of current or past pay when determining the salaries of new federal employees. It won’t help women already working in the federal government, but if you know a woman in the job market, please share this news with her.

The White House has proposed this rule be extended to federal contractors.  That will give it broader reach.  We will wait and see.

LATEST PRESS RELEASES AND STATEMENTS FROM AAUW

On July 15th, the Pennsylvania legislature recessed until September after voting on a constitutional amendment package that would dramatically shift the balance of government power in Pennsylvania and call multiple rights into question, including the right to abortion healthcare. You can read our statement from last week here.The League strongly opposes this bill package (SB106) and is disappointed at the misuse of legislative power coming from Harrisburg. We are in the process of identifying different options for opposition, including speaking with lawmakers and coalition partners to develop a strategy to protect the rights of Pennsylvania citizens. As an organization founded to defend democracy, we will bring the strength of our network, power, and resources to this fight.Here’s what you need to know:The bill (SB106) contained FIVE proposed constitutional amendments which would greatly impact Pennsylvania citizens.These amendments would:

  1. Declare that the state constitution does not grant any right relating to abortion, including no right to public funding for the procedure. Currently in PA, public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest. This amendment not only adds a funding ban to the state constitution, but removes the right to abortion altogether. The Pennsylvania constitution is meant to grant rights, rather than explicitly remove them for over half of the population. The League will continue to advocate for those who can become pregnant to access abortion healthcare.
  2. Give the legislature more power, including the right to disregard the Governor’s veto. This is a partisan response to the current legislature’s dissatisfaction with Governor Wolf’s veto record. The legislature is in effect granting itself more power than the executive by saying they can reject the veto power of the Governor. This upsets the longstanding system of checks and balances which define U.S. and PA governmental systems.
  3. Create additional voter ID requirements in a state with already strict voter ID law: Pennsylvanians must currently present a government-issued or student ID when they register to vote, or vote at a new location. As such, there is already a system in place to confirm voter identity. The justification for tightening voter ID rules is to prevent fraud. But significant voter fraud, especially voter impersonation, is virtually nonexistent. Furthermore, requiring voter ID does not require a constitutional amendment. Voter ID can – and should be – a change that is legislatively enacted by amending the Election Code.
  4. Impose stricter residency  requirements on new voters: The latest version of SB106 requires a 90-day residency within the Commonwealth (changed from 30 days) to vote. This means anyone who moves to Pennsylvania between August and November of an election year is denied their right to vote in a general election. It also bizarrely restates an old provision of PA law, which set the voting age at 21, which is out of date, as the 26th Amendment of the U.S. constitution sets the voting age at 18.
  5. Require that elections be audited by the PA Auditor General: The Pennsylvania Department of State is the office with election oversight. They already conduct risk-limiting audits to help affirm the integrity of the process. This amendment reinforces a lack of trust in election administration at both the county and state levels, and aims to shift power away from actual election officials and place it under the authority of another agency.
  6. Change the structure and powers of the Lieutenant Governor: This amendment would do two things: change the powers of the Lieutenant Governor, by eliminating their authority to break tie votes on final passage of a bill, and make the Lt. Governor a position that is not elected.

SB106 represents an attack on many of the issues the League has advocated for over the years, including the right to safely and easily vote and the right to bodily autonomy, and a fair and responsive government held accountable to checks and balances.

Furthermore, the passage of Senate Bill 106 is emblematic of how broken the legislative process in Harrisburg is. Legislative leaders manipulated long standing procedural rules to ram through a bill with multiple contentious topics AFTER 11 pm at night, late in the day, just before summer recess, with no public hearings, no genuine minority party input, and little opportunity for the public to engage or even see what was taking place.

Here’s what happens next:

  • The General Assembly returns on September 12th for the House and September 19th for the Senate. In order for the bill to be implemented, it must pass again in the upcoming session of the General Assembly.
  • The amendment will then be placed on the ballot for Pennsylvanians to vote on. If the bill passes early in the next legislative session, these amendment questions could be on the May 2023 primary ballot.
  • Constitutional amendments like SB106 do not need the Governor’s signature to be signed, and the Governor cannot veto these amendments if they are approved by the voters.
  • It’s been decades since Pennsylvania voters rejected a ballot question. If these amendments make it to the ballot, there is a high likelihood that they would be approved.

What League members and supporters can do:It’s time to turn our anger into activism. The November election is just around the corner, and it’s our responsibility to speak up in the meantime. We need your voice to hold our legislators accountable for their actions.

  • Write a letter to the editor expressing your concern and advocating for a fair process. Find more tips for letters to the editor and op-eds here. While this may seem small, sharing your thoughts with your community can have a positive impact in inspiring others to do the same.
  • Sign and share the Fix Harrisburg petition: The closed-door process that allowed this bill to pass is a clear example of the broken lawmaking process in Pennsylvania.
  • Sign one of the League’s active petitions or letter campaigns and tell your legislators that it’s time to advocate for voting rights, fair elections, and reproductive choice.
  • Subscribe to League emails so you never miss out on crucial updates on this issue.
  • Donate to the League to help us continue our mission of empowering voters and defending democracy. We will need a wide berth of resources to fight on all fronts, and your support is greatly appreciated.
  • Join your local League and lend your talents to our statewide grassroots network of advocates. If you’re already a member, consider joining a statewide committee to advocate for the democracy issues you care about. We will be actively working on this issue – join us!

AAUW Statement Strongly Condemning the U.S. Supreme Court’s Opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The following is a statement from Gloria L. Blackwell, AAUW Chief Executive Officer:

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) strongly condemns the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The decision overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that established abortion as a constitutionally protected right nearly 50 years ago and ignores the will of the American people, 80% of whom support legal abortion.

AAUW believes everyone has the right to make decisions about their own reproductive lives without government interference. Abortion access is vital to women’s ability to control their lives, bodies and futures. Without reproductive freedom, there can be no equity.

Being able to choose whether and when to become a parent improves women’s well-being and fosters economic security—a crucial component of AAUW’s mission. This is particularly important in a country that lacks accessible maternal health care, paid caregiving leave and workplace protections for pregnant workers.

The Court’s decision hurts all of us, but it will do the most harm to low-income people, women of color, immigrants, people with disabilities and LGBTQ+ people, because these groups already face substantial barriers to accessing reproductive services and health care.

While the Court’s decision is a major setback for all Americans, AAUW remains steadfast in our commitment to protecting reproductive rights, a vital component of gender equity.

If this ongoing struggle is important to you please consider becoming a member of our local Reading branch AAUW

PA State AAUW | National AAUW
Educational Foundation | Legal Advocacy Fund

AAUW Action Fund
Congressional Voting Record 116th Congress (January 2019-September 2020)

Click here to download the current issue of our local newsletter  BRANCHLINES

          Click here to download the latest issue of The Keystoner

The Keystoner is published four times a year, this newsletter shares information about our work across the state.  We invite you to be a part of the exciting things happening across the state and to participate in AAUW Pennsylvania activities.  The Keystoner will keep you informed.