Members will vote this spring on the change

Last fall AAUW opened up a comment period when members could submit amendments to the organization’s bylaws. A change was submitted to drop the degree requirement for membership (exact wording will be linked when it appears on the AAUW website).

Members should watch for more information through AAUW channels about the logistics of the election. This change requires a two-thirds majority of those voting to pass.

The OpenUp AAUW group submitted the following rationale for the change.

Over the long history of AAUW, our organization’s mission and membership requirements have steadily evolved with our successes and with the times.  As a part of that evolution, it is imperative our organization recognizes the power of welcoming anyone who supports our mission, as do most other mission-based non-profits.  The reasons for doing so are both ethical and practical:

(1) An organization is strongest when its members actively support its mission.  Since AAUW opened membership to men in 1987, our membership demographics did not significantly change (our membership is still overwhelmingly female).  However, it meant that the men who joined were dedicated to AAUW’s work.  AAUW stands to benefit by offering that same openness to any person who supports AAUW’s mission and wants to join us.

(2) Requiring a college-degree for membership mistakenly implies that only those with degrees could possibly value or advocate for education for girls and women.

(3) AAUW’s stated objective to break down barriers for women is weakened by maintaining our own barrier to AAUW membership.

(4) Membership recruitment and processing would be greatly simplified, with no more awkward questions of prospective members about whether they are “qualified” for membership; but we would continue to be free to support and celebrate our members’ educational accomplishments and aspirations.

(5) Nothing in this change would affect college/university partner members, student affiliates and reduced fees for them, or the many programs that AAUW supports on campuses across the country.

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