- It has been a long time since AAUW forced Mattel to reprogram its Barbie dolls. AAUW
National refused to accept Barbie’s recorded voice stating that math was tough. By direct association, girls were learning to fear that subject. Ken dolls never had a similar message. An apology certainly was not enough. The media took the story and magnified it until Mattel had to capitulate. This was just one of the subtle ways that girls were manipulated.
- Research funded by our Eleanor Roosevelt Foundation provided an eye-opening report that showed girls in elementary schools were treated differently than boys. For example, because girls tended to sit quietly, they were not called on as much and therefore not encouraged and praised as often for knowing correct answers. Our published report was used by teachers to improve their teaching strategies.
- At our conventions for many years we have strategized about ways to expose girls to the wonders of STEM and to mentor interested young students. It was a natural pairing for many AAUW former teachers. At the Colorado Science and Engineering Fair at Colorado State University, AAUW Colorado began awarding $100 to a middle school girl with a project in mathematics or computer science. At Golden High School the “Accept No Boundaries” project helped enhance girls’ self-esteem and broaden their career awareness.
- Many branches held “Expanding Your Horizons” conferences to help young women with career choices.
Brenda Wolfe, past AAUW Colorado president, is an engineer and could speak from experience. One of her main goals during her term was to focus on STEM opportunities for girls and young women. Several branches, such as Boulder, have provided STEM workshops with hands-on experiences. Other branches have had programs with speakers and encouraged members to bring their daughters and other young women to attend.