I understand and greatly appreciate the reasons why the 1881 founders and their descendants stuck to the degree requirement. As a 30-year member, I had no problem with it when I joined. As a member in 2015, the degree requirement is not only fairly meaningless, but it is becoming dangerous. We see ourselves as inclusive but others may see us as cliquish. Just as other AAUW initiatives, especially the Legal Advocacy Fund, have grown beyond their barriers, unless we make the possibility open to the widest reasonable group, I think this stance will lessen our appeal and make some difference, even a small one, in our efforts to grow, reach prospective members of ALL ages, thrive and be relevant.

-Marsha Miller, AAUW of the Wabash Valley (IN)
May 18, 2015

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I was the one who proposed the membership  amendment to the 2015
AAUW by laws.  I am delighted to find this website that supports open membership.  I fail to understand how we can continue to support non-discrimination if we insist on discriminating. We are no longer the 19th nor 20th century AAUW.  We have much work to do to break through barriers for women and girls and I firmly support opening up membership to ALL who support the mission of AAUW and pay their dues.

-Adrienne Lesser, AAUW Mt. Lakes (NJ)
April 23, 2015

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A bit of background

Yes, this discussion may seem familiar to many of you. The group that’s supporting this site came together in 2005, and will likely continue in some form until AAUW has an open membership.  This year, 2015, will be the first time the entire membership has had a chance to vote on the question and if that vote results, as in 2005 and 2009, in a majority in favor of the change we do hope it will not take too long for the 2/3 to agree.

This is the site that grew from the 2009 efforts. If you are looking for the 2005 materials, see

Posted in History, News


If someone is passionate and committed to our AAUW issues, she should not only be allowed to join us, that person will also most likely be a great member because of that passion. Every branch benefits from such committed, active members, helping the branch be a vital part of the local community. They often take on leadership positions, too. This is also a boon to branches in small towns with a finite pool of potential members.

Caroline Pickens, AAUW McLean Area (VA)
April 8, 2015

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I’ve heard the arguments for and against open membership. I’ve been a member since the late 1990s and attended the convention when we voted for membership with an associate degree. I believe it’s time for AAUW to open the membership to people who support the mission, no matter their education status. I welcome those who believe in equal opportunity for all.

Kathy Shaw, AAUW Marshall (MI)
April 6, 2015

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It is incredulous that an organization that promotes “equity” for women is exclusive. In my years of membership, I’ve heard many times when I approach people who are obviously qualified about membership, they are turned off because of our membership requirement. As we work with businesses in creating partnerships, it’s embarrassing to explain how we can be working for equity – when membership is not open to all. If people support our mission, they should be able to be members.

Sandy Hansen, AAUW Livermore-Pleasanton-Dublin (CA)
April 6, 2015

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In Idaho, and especially rural Idaho, we’re outnumbered and it’s important to include every willing voice in our on-going work towards equity and education for women and girls. We particularly need every willing voice to speak up for civil rights for all and for a woman’s right to choose if and when to bear children.

Marilyn Arp, AAUW Long Valley (ID)
April 4, 2015

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Atkinson, K

AAUW appears to assume that a college education provides a person with a better, broader skill set to advocate on behalf of women. This membership requirement should be challenged. Did MLK require a college education to March in Selma? Does NOW require its volunteers in women’s health clinics to be college educated? Does a local rape crisis require its Board members to have a college degree? Any civil rights organization that restricts its membership to those with college degrees is missing a potential pool of members who can commit to the AAUW mission without needing “papers.”

Karla Atkinson, AAUW Brevard and AAUW Tar Heel (NC)
April 4, 2015

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Times have changed, and we must change with them. It is way past time to do this. Let’s get this done. You have my support, and thanks for doing the work to get this issue across the finish line.

Doris Bernlohr, AAUW Tar Heel and AAUW Chapel Hill
April 4, 2015

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I have been supportive of the efforts to allow AAUW to open up the membership requirement to those who advocate for the mission of AAUW, regardless of their educational qualifications. I am pleased to see the proposed bylaw amendment presented to the membership for a vote in 2015.

Barbara Bonsignore, AAUW Rochester (MI), April 4, 2015

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