Here is the rationale for the Bylaws Amendment as it appears in the AAUW Voter Guide
Whereas the purpose of AAUW is to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research, restricting membership is inherently inequitable and furthermore limits AAUW’s influence in the community. 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 that our organization recognize the power of welcoming anyone who supports our mission, as do most other mission-based nonprofits. The reasons for doing so are both ethical and practical:
- An organization is strongest when its members actively support its mission. Since AAUW opened membership to men in 1987, our membership demographics have not significantly changed (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.
- Requiring a college degree for membership mistakenly implies that only those with degrees could possibly value or advocate for education for girls and women.
- AAUW’s stated objective to break down barriers for women is weakened by maintaining our own barrier to AAUW membership.
- 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.
- Nothing in this change would affect college/university partner members, student affiliates and their reduced fees, or the many programs that AAUW supports on campuses across the country.