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WREI UPDATE— Issue 14

 

April 2003

IN THIS ISSUE
Did you know?
WREI launches The American Woman 2003-2004: Young Women Today-Daughters of a Revolution
Class of 2003 WREI Fellows arrives in Washington
OWL Nests with WREI

 

DID YOU KNOW?
The typical woman worker in 2000 spent more than 36 hours per week at her paid job-two hours more than her counterpart in 1975. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)


WREI launches The American Woman 2003-2004: Young Women Today-Daughters of a Revolution

On February 4th, an overflow crowd at the National Press Club in Washington helped celebrate publication of the ninth edition in WREI's acclaimed American Woman series. In a lively give-and-take over lunch in the Holeman Lounge, a distinguished panel of editors, authors, and experts compared the lives of today's 25 to 34 year-old women to their mothers' lives a quarter-century ago.

Coeditor Vanessa Wight spoke about what WREI hoped to accomplish with the new book, which is the first in the American Woman series to focus on a particular age group of women at a particular time in history. Cynthia Costello, senior editor of the book, moderated the panel discussion. The panelists were:

Martha Farnsworth Riche, well-known demographer, former head of the U.S. Census Bureau, and author of Chapter One, "Young Women: Where They Stand." Marty observed that, compared with the women who were in the 25-34 age group 25 years ago, today's young women are experiencing an unprecedented "density" of roles as they try to reconcile career concerns with family responsibilities.

Marisa DiNatale and Stephanie Boraas, young economists with the Bureau
of Labor Statistics, and authors of Chapter Two, "Young Women, Education, and Employment." They discussed the close connection between a woman's education and her present and potential employment and earnings. On average, women between 25 and 35 today are the best educated generation of women ever-30 percent of them have a bachelor's degree or higher. However, more than 10 percent of the women in this age group have not even finished high school. The gulf between the educational haves and have-nots is growing more pronounced.

Jessica DeGroot, president of the ThirdPath Institute, and coauthor of Chapter Four, "Integrating Work and Life: Young Women Forge New Solutions." Jessica discussed the practical implications of the density of roles described by Marty Riche. She pointed out that the work/family "balancing act" will be more manageable if employees as well as employers-women as well as men-alter the old ways of thinking not only about what is expected of an "ideal worker" or an "ideal mother" but also about "who does what" at home.

Cynthia ("Cindy") Hall, president of Women's Policy, Inc., and author of "The Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues at 25." Cindy, who herself has about two decades of legislative experience on Capitol Hill, discussed the prospects for legislation that might make the balancing act easier.

Darryl Getter, an economist with HUD's office of evaluation who crunched numbers "pro bono" for Lani Luciano's chapter (Lani unfortunately could not come to the launch), talked about the assets held by women and men in "our" age group. The men's assets are greater, Darryl told us, mostly because they have more expensive automobiles than women.

Shari Miles, executive director of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and Patricia Rojas, legislative assistant to Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard. Shari has a long association with WREI, first as a WREI Fellow, then as Fellowship Director, then as Executive Director. Patricia was also a WREI Fellow. From their perspective as women in (or close to) "our" age group, they offered commentary on the choices and challenges confronting young women of color.

The American Woman 2003-2004, edited by Cindy Costello, Anne J. Stone, and Vanessa Wight, is available at local bookstores for $24.95 or can be ordered through WREI. Just email us at wrei@wrei.org or visit our website at www.wrei.org.

 

Class of 2003 WREI Fellows arrives in Washington

The new Congressional Fellows on Women & Public Policy-seven strong-started their Congressional orientation on January 13th. Their introduction to the ways and means of Capitol Hill reads like a "Who's Who" of former Fellows.

On Day #1, Fellows heard from Diane Beedle and Julie Okoniewski (class of 2002), who both accepted professional legislative positions in their assigned offices after completing their fellowships. Diane handles budget, taxes, Social Security, labor, education and the environment for Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia. Julie covers environment, women's issues, judiciary, international relations, human rights, and military issues for Rep. Nydia Velasquez of New York.

They were followed by Shari Miles (1989-90), whose WREI credentials are described above. Shari was recently named executive director of the
Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and is busy restoring a townhouse at 2nd and Eye Streets, NE, where SPSSI will soon set up shop.

Lisa Maatz (1997-98) helped the new Fellows establish goals as they considered specific Hill placements. Lisa just started work as director of public policy and government relations at the American Association of University Women. She is also on the adjunct faculty of the Women and Politics Institute at American University. On February 6th, Lisa received a Mentor Award from PLEN - the Public Leadership Education Network - in recognition of her work in mentoring college women who come to Washington to learn about public policy.

Next came Kristin Holman Olson (1996-97) to talk about the types and styles of congressional writing that Fellows are expected to deliver. Kristin left her job as legislative director for Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut about a year ago and is now doing advocacy work for non-profits with Ortho Biotech. Kristin met her husband, Eric Olson, during her WREI Fellowship when they both worked for Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA). They happily anticipate the arrival of a baby daughter in May.

Denise Forte (1994-95) explained committee work. After six years with Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, she moved over to the House Education and the Workforce Committee in 1999, as a legislative associate for the minority staff. Her responsibilities include youth development, juvenile justice, after-school programs, child nutrition, and education research.

Fellows learned about the labor union movement from Jo Deutsch (1985-86), the new assistant director of the Women's Rights Department at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The Women's Rights Department provides services to more than 1.3 million AFSCME members, over half of whom are women. Before joining AFSCME, Jo spent 14 years as director of government affairs at the Association of Flight Attendants. She lives in Cheverly, MD, with her partner of 18 years and their three children, all handsome/pretty enough to model for local print ads.

Jo was followed by her 1985-86 classmate, Robyn Lipner, the new president of the Jacobs Institute for Women's Health, who outlined the health agenda for the 108th Congress. For the past five years Robyn was a managing consultant to nonprofit and corporate clients at Bass and Howes, a public affairs lobbying firm with a focus on women's health. Among her former clients: the National Breast Cancer Coalition; the Michael J. Fox Foundation; and the National Asian Women's Health Organization. From 1993-95, she served as staff director for Senator Barbara Mikulski's Subcommittee on Aging. Robyn is the proud mom of a six and an eight year-old.

Megan Gordon (1998-99) combined her work as a lobbyist for the American Cancer Society with her expertise on health to tell the Fellows about pushing issues on the Hill. She's been with ACS since 1999, advocating for federal public policies on managed care reform, Medicare, and the drug/device development process. Megan was the first WREI Fellow to find us funding for another fellowship by harnessing her contacts in the pharmaceutical industry.

Sincere thanks to this brain trust of alumnae whose wisdom and wit helped the Class of 2003 hit the ground running.

 

OWL "nests" with WREI

The Older Women's League has come to roost in WREI's offices. We are delighted that Dr. Laurie Young and her staff have joined us and will continue their national and grassroots work on issues unique to women as they age.

For 30 years, OWL has conducted groundbreaking studies, testified before Congress, and led powerful public education campaigns through 15,000 volunteer members in 75 chapters nationwide. OWL's goals? To improve women's access to high quality, affordable health care; to build personal economic security for senior women; and to advocate for the rights of all people to maintain control of decisions affecting their well-being through the end of life.

In 1977, WREI's first president Betty Dooley and current president Susan Scanlan worked closely with Tish Sommers, OWL's founder, on the fight for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. It is both exciting and gratifying that our two organization should band together now in the continuing battle to enhance the status and quality of life for all women.