gmhTODAY 07 gmhToday Mar Apr 2016 - Page 86

AAUW Advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, research and philanthropy. Written By Robin Shepherd H ere in America, women and girls enjoy freedoms and opportuni- ties that don’t exist for females in many other countries. But we didn’t get where we are today by luck or accident. Generations of women blazed a trail for us to follow. Throughout American history, women have joined influential organizations such as the American Association for University Women (AAUW). Working together they won the right to vote, the right to pursue an education and career path of their own choosing, and the right to equal pay. The origins of AAUW date back to 1881 when 17 college alumnae made it their mission to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, research and philanthropy. That mission lives on today among the women of South County. The Gilroy and Morgan Hill AAUW chapters boast more than 200 volunteers, mentors and leaders who are active in our community. Membership includes women who have distinguished themselves in healthcare, architecture, high technology, law, financial services, philanthropy, edu- cation and more. While the history of AAUW is rich, the organization is very much forward-looking. Areas of Focus Education Last year, local GEMS participants visited sites including Elkhorn Slough, Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Computer History Museum and Joseph Grant County Park. On March 13 the current crop of GEMS participants will visit San Jose’s Tech Museum to learn about one of the most challenging issues of our time: cybersecurity. • Tech Trek. A one-week summer camp that engages girls in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) activities. It began in California and has been so successful that it is now a national program. Each year our local AAUW chapters offer scholarships to girls completing 7th grade. The camp is held at Stanford University. “I the late 1960s I received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from UC Davis. At the time there were very few careers available to women. AAUW has empowered thousands of girls and women to explore a wide range of career paths.” Penny Lockhart, Co-president Gilroy AAUW 86 • Speech Trek. An annual speech contest for high school students; organized, funded and judged by AAUW. Contestants are judged on speech content, organization and presentation. The contest provides opportunities to compete at local and state levels for cash prizes. • Girls Engaged in Math & Science (GEMS). An enrichment program for middle and high school girls in Morgan Hill and Gilroy Unified School Districts. Field trips and presentations by accomplished women of math and science provide girls with a vision of the possibilities that await if they pursue this path in their careers. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN • Scholarships and Grants. Each year a number of different awards are made to new or returning female students in associate/ bachelor degree college programs, and in Gavilan College’s nursing program. Additional grants provide past scholarship winners with follow-on support in completing their degrees. Community Outreach • Outreach/Action Grants. Competitive grants that support local non-profits such as Community Solutions, Discovery Counseling Center, Learning & Loving Education Center, and the Gift of Reading program. • Voter Education. Organize election forums, register voters, and educate the public about non-partisan issues. “It was guys telling jokes and saying, ‘Oops…there’s a woman in the room.’ We’ve made a lot of progress but we’d like to see more women in engineering.” MARCH/APRIL 2016 Sabra Dupree, Co-president Gilroy AAUW gmhtoday.com