Yes, the discussions are starting about an amendment to national bylaws to drop the degree requirement for membership.
There’s one discussion, though, that’d I’d like to nip in the bud, namely:
If we drop the degree requirement, we’ll have to change our name.
Nope. We’ve admitted men since 1987, and no one is confused by the “W” part of the name. The National Organization for Women, NOW, may have named themselves and chosen a more appropriate preposition to acknowledge our male allies, but it is pretty clear that our core efforts surround equity for women.
Now things would be easier if we’d stuck with the plan to use “AAUW” instead of the “words” of the name. If we’d been more consistent when asked “what does AAUW stand for” with answers like
- It’s not an abbreviation, but the name of an organization that promotes equity for women and girls.
- We’re a national membership organization that works for equity for women and girls and our local projects are …
- We have a strong advocacy program that’s working for laws and policies that …
- Or whatever your favorite elevator speech might be
instead of taking the easy way out and saying
- American Association of University Women
which just raises more questions like, “Oh, at which school do you work?”
In addition, our degree requirement for membership has little to do with the wide range of campus programs we support for College/University Partners
- Workshops like Elect Her and Smart Start
- Campus student organizations and the annual national student conference
- Grants for Campus Action Projects and Campus Outreach Program
- AAUW’s long history as one of the largest funders of graduate student women through its fellowships program
So the “U” is firmly embedded in our organizational DNA, and welcoming those who have chosen a different path but wish to join us in our fight for equity will not change that.