History

AAUW’s tradition of actively pursuing equity for women and girls dates back to its earliest days. Consider this: In 1917, college women stood vigil outside the White House, protesting the fact that women could not vote—and in doing so, they became the first group ever to picket the White House for a political cause. Years later, determined AAUW members found a way around the wartime ban on conventions by conducting their business on paper, by mail.

Noteworthy Events in AAUW History:

1920  Nobel Prize-winning scientist Marie Curie receives $156,413 from AAUW members toward the purchase of one gram of radium.

1943  Scientist Florence Siebert wins the inaugural AAUW Achievement Award, established by the Northwest Central Region to recognize an American woman for distinguished scholarly or professional achievement. Siebert invented the first reliable tuberculosis test and improved the safety of intravenous injections.

1945  Before VE Day, AAUW launched a program to raise funds to bring women from the liberated countries to the U.S. to study. Later, the grants were extended to all member associations of the International Federation of University Women. By 1960, AAUW International Grants had enabled 500 women from 34 countries to study in the U.S.

1946 After acting as an early and influential advocate for the United Nations, AAUW is accorded permanent UN observer status. This designation is reserved for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), liberation movements, and specialized agencies of the UN system.

1972 AAUW is instrumental in the passage of Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools receiving federal funds. Rep. Patsy Mink (D-HI), an AAUW member, co-authored the law.

Today, we continue our active advocacy on behalf of women and girls:

  • National Level  —  Lobbying Congress, educating voters, and influencing the debate on critical issues
  • Local Level  —  Providing scholarships to adult women returning to the workforce