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Review for Feminists Against Academic Discrimination Inc, Brewster, MA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Despite the influx of women Ph.D.s into the profession since the '70s, they continue to be eliminated by an entrenched male power structure. The FAAD Board consists of academic feminists who have fought and won Title VII cases. Because we know first-hand how difficult and ruinous these suits are, personally and financially, we do everything in our power to help women faculty and students.

Our primary work consists of evaluating a plaintiff's case: we interview her extensively and read all of her material about the school and the department. We read all the legal documents, and we look at her attorney's work as well. If we conclude that but for discrimination she would have been tenured, we accept her case.

Sadly, the primary champion of women faculty, the American Association of University Women, has drastically cut back its support despite the vital importance of female faculty as role models. That leaves FAAD and We Advocate Gender Equity (WAGE).

FAAD has several concerns when it comes to discriminaton: we are concerned about faculty women who are targeted because they are supposedly "abrasive," "strident," or, the current favorite, "uncollegial." As everyone knows, these are male code words for assertive, independent, and most importantly, NOT submissive! We are concerned with women in male-dominated fields such as the sciences, and those labelled "too political." We don't think it's a coincidence that these supposedly over-political women just happen to teach Women's Studies. Clearly, teaching about oppression gets in the way of those who oppress.

In addition to awarding funds to women faculty who are litigating discrimination based on gender, race, ideology, and sexual orientation, FAAD also writes letters on behalf of a plaintiff to those who could make a difference in her case. We also do counselling and attorney referrals.

The need is great, unfortunately. We are all volunteers, and every penny goes to academic women waging David and Goliath struggles. But nothing will change unless women, with their vastly improved earning ability, start donating in significant numbers and amounts. Justice is not a right; it is a commodity like any other--except that it is far more expensive than most commodities. For more information and donations, please visit the FAAD website:

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My colleagues are completley dedicated to helping women faculty and students, regardless of whether or not we help financially. In fact the emotional support is just as important, if not more so, than the financial support because we'll be with the plaintiff for the long haul if she wishes. Even when we don't take a case, we still provide support in the form of counselling and attorney referrals.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

try to bring in some well-heeled Board members.

Role:  Board Member & I have counselled women plaintiffs for over twenty-five years, helping them to navigate the legal system and helping their lawyers to understand academe.

Review for We Advocate Gender Equity, San Diego, CA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Discrimination against women in higher education continues to be rampant. Women are routinely denied promotion and tenure; men earn significantly more than women in every rank; and the managerial ranks are predominately male. Less than 20% of senior faculty and administrators are women--a figure that has remained constant for decades.

We Advocate Gender Equity (WAGE) has a long and honorable history of supporting academic women. Started in 1993 to support Dr. Jenny Harrison, an eminent mathematician denied tenure at Berkeley, WAGE went on to fight discrimination throughout the University of California. It held meetings in the North and South which brought women plaintiffs together along with supporters, thus creating a vital support network. It published regular reports on cases, researched hiring and promotion statistics throughout the UC system, and contacted state legislators and federal authorities. It helped generate the "Torres Bill," which forced UC to report for five years on a yearly basis what it was spending to fight lawsuits by academic women. It also exposed UC's dirty tactics with its story about the fact that fifty percent of women with cases against UC had been audited by the IRS!

One of WAGE's most recent recipient of years of support was UNESCO Professor of Economics and Mathematics at Columbia University, Dr. Graciela Chichilnisky. A Noble prize nominee in Economics, Professor Chichilnisky's proposals formed the basis of the Kyoto Accords. Her research on the global environment, including her concept of Basic Needs as a strategy for sustainable development (adopted by 150 countries in the U.N. Earth Summit) and her proposal of a carbon market, have been recognized world-wide as yielding enormous benefits to humankind. Yet for fifteen years Columbia fought her gender discrimination lawsuit alleging significantly unequal pay and harassment and retaliation. After violating the terms of the first settlement agreement, Columbia engaged in more harassment and retaliation to force her out and manufactured allegations in a baseless countersuit. Other sister groups joining WAGE to support Professor Chichilnisky with funds and publicity included Feminists Against Academic Discrimination (FAAD) and the American Association of University Women. We are pleased to report that Professor Chichilnisky overwhelmingly prevailed against Columbia.

One of WAGE's current concerns, apart from the always pressing need for donations, is the judicial trend towards summary judgment--a conclusion by the trial judge that among other things, there is no triable issue of fact. The courts have always been reluctant to intervene in the arcane (and often unwritten) rules which govern the "community of gentlemen and scholars." But this dangerous trend means that despite expending years of suffering and untold amounts of money, women never get their day in court.

WAGE continues to support plaintiffs through donations, counselling, publicity, and letter writing. We also publish a regular Newsletter on cases and strategies for fighting discrimination. Once a year we convene the WAGE Forum on a college campus, a one-day teach-in with panels and keynote speakers on discrimination against women students and faculty. The WAGE Board is comprised of former academic plaintiffs and supporters. Our very great need is for donations so that the brave women taking on an entire university and often the state attorney general's office, will have a fighting chance.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seeing courageous women students and professors break their isolation and continue their struggle, knowing that they're no longer alone, that they have the unstinting support of men and women on the WAGE Board who know exactly the overwhelming power and resources marshalled against them.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

try to raise our profile by investigating the cost of hiring a professional fundraiser.

Role:  Board Member & I have counselled women plaintiffs for over twenty-five years, helping them to navigate the legal system and helping their lawyers to understand academe.