Tuesday, October 24, 2006

15 Years After Thomas Hearings,
They Still Don’t Get it

by Ellen Bravo

MILWAUKEE, WISC.--It’s been 15 years since the Clarence Thomas hearings, and Congressional leaders still don’t get the issue of sexual harassment.

Just take a look at the Mark Foley Scandal.

Those in charge have been so busy pointing fingers, it’s no wonder their solution is an 800-hotline for pages to contact the FBI. Imagine the menu of options: "If you received an instant message, press one. For emails, hit two. Press three if the Congressman showed up drunk outside your residence." Note this is the same FBI that had notice of sexually suggestive emails last July and took no action.


Bravo teaches a graduate class in sexual harassment at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is former director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women, and co-author of The 9to5 Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment. Her most recent book, Taking on the Big Boys, or Why Feminism is Good for Families, Businesses and the Nation, is forthcoming from Feminist Press.

Ohio Parents Continue to Struggle with Poverty

by Wendy Patton

COLUMBUS--How do Ohio families with young kids survive at the poverty level? The short answer is: not easily. Research shows that it takes twice the poverty line in rural parts of the state and up to three times the poverty line in Ohio cities to secure a safe and decent but modest standard of living. However, more than one in five Ohio families with young kids cannot reach this basic level.

Last year, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) looked at home economics in 439 communities across the nation. The bare-bones budgets for families with one or two parents and up to three small kids left no room for luxuries: housing was considered safe and sanitary but at HUD’s 40th percentile of local rents; the USDA low-cost food plan included no fast food or restaurant meals; and transportation mileage was solely for work, shopping and church. Health costs were based on the lowest insurance quotes, and tax calculations included any additional income provided by the Earned Income Tax Credit. They found that a one-parent, one-child family in rural Ohio needed $23,952 to make ends meet in 2004. By contrast, the poverty threshold for a family of this size was $13,020. A family with two small kids and two parents in Cleveland needed $45,972, which was 240 percent of the poverty line of $19,157.

Patton is a policy liaison for Policy Matters Ohio.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Preserve Access to the Courts

by Amber Sexton

When I was 15 years old, I became paralyzed from the waist down. I was a rear-seat passenger in my mother’s car, when it was involved in a frontal collision. I was wearing a lap-only seatbelt, the only restraining device available to me, when the crash forced my body forward and the burden of the lap belt nearly cut my body in half. What we later learned was that since 1966, auto companies knew that rear lap belts were unsafe yet continued to put them in cars, like my mother’s.

I am now in a wheelchair. In order for me to rebuild my life, my family went to court and I received compensation for my injury that provided me the opportunity to live in an accessible home, pay for uninsured medical expenses, and go to college. I was able to complete college and find gainful employment. And I am now proud to say that this spring, I was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Illinois, a feat I never could have accomplished without our court case, which helped me recover and set me on a new road in life.

Sexton, age 26, is Ms. Wheelchair Illinois.

‘Right of Refusal’ Policy Hurts Women,
Pharmacists Alike

by Teresa D. Avery, RPh.

SEATTLE, WA.--As a pharmacist, I am deeply concerned by the Board of Pharmacy’s proposal to allow pharmacists to decline to sell prescriptions based on their personal beliefs. The proposal put forward by the Washington State Pharmacy Association and the Board of Pharmacy does not, in my opinion, represent the views of the majority of pharmacists who practice in our state. Fortunately, the board is now reconsidering the proposal, but advocates for women’s rights remain concerned about what the board may propose next.

Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals in the community, often giving free health counseling to anyone who approaches our counter. We have a long tradition of non-discriminatory practice and, I believe, that is why we rank among the nation’s most trusted professionals year after year. The public perception has always been that pharmacists have our patients’ health and welfare as our highest priority, even above our own personal beliefs.

Avery is the manager of Cabrini Medical Tower Pharmacy in Seattle.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Choosing Lies and Deception:
Crisis Pregnancy Centers in North Carolina

by Melissa Reed

RALEIGH, N.C.--Across the country, anti-choice activists are working to limit women’s reproductive health options by restricting access to abortion and birth control. In addition to legislative action, one branch of this movement is targeting pregnant women through crisis pregnancy centers (CPC).

These anti-choice organizations present themselves as a source of neutral information and advice. In fact the CPC movement uses lies and scare tactics to prevent women from making informed choices about abortion. In North Carolina there are at least 70 of these anti-choice "pregnancy centers."

During the summer of 2003, volunteers from NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina called and visited 10 crisis pregnancy centers in the Triangle, Charlotte, Triad and Wilmington areas as part of an investigation of the CPC’s tactics. They presented themselves as women who thought they might be pregnant and were considering abortion.


Reed is the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Economic Status Should Not Hinder Higher Education

by Sui Lang Panoke

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Is access to graduate education exclusive to the upper class?

As a first-year graduate student struggling to make ends meet, I believe the answer to this question is yes. In my experience, searching for funding to pay the extensive costs of my higher education has been an upward climb leading only to dead ends.

I am a single mother who qualifies for the maximum amount in federal aid for graduate students. However, this amount barely covers my tuition, and the costs of housing, books, and living expenses are left entirely to me.

I have no college fund, trust, or inheritance. I don’t independently qualify for private student loans because I lack the substantial credit or the employment history that is required, and I do not have the luxury of having a willing and eligible co-signer. Furthermore, I can only work part-time jobs while in school in order to qualify for childcare assistance.


Panoke is a first-year graduate student at American University. She is working towards a Master’s degree in Public Administration with a certificate in Women, Policy, and Political Leadership through the Women & Politics Institute.

Gender Disparities Among Higher Education Faculty Demand Attention

by Julie Saad

WASHINGTON, D.C.--Lawrence Summers, the former Harvard University president who resigned earlier this year, gained notoriety for his controversial remarks on women in science. It was also publicized that the number of women faculty offered tenure had declined every year since Summers assumed the presidency in 2001. While the situation at Harvard received significant media attention, gender disparities among faculty are not unique to that institution. In fact, the trend is national.

Since 1974, the American Association of University Professors has collected data to measure trends in gender equity among full-time faculty members at public and private institutions of higher education. Historically, women have been underrepresented among the highest academic ranks and tenured positions, and have faced a significant salary gap. Despite minor improvements, inequities persist.


Saad is a graduate student at American University, where she is working on her Master of Public Administration and Graduate Certificate in Women, Policy, and Political Leadership.