Greetings!

September has a special feel for all of us in Vermont. Summer is fading away, the school season has started, and for many of us, it marks a special New Englander’s instinct that it is time to hunker down and get serious about our work, our schedules, and let’s not forget, apple season!

For the Vermont Women’s Fund, we are deep into planning for our 25th Anniversary Benefit Celebration that takes place on Wednesday, October 16, 2019. For our guest speakers, Pulitzer-prize winning journalists, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, September marked the release of their new book, She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement. I expect you have already heard about it on national media. Thanks to Phoenix Books, we will have copies available for sale at our event.

And, for the many women's organizations that we partner with in Vermont, autumn means special programs for young women and girls like the Women Can Do conference. This action-packed day brings hundreds of high school girls to Vermont Technical College to inspire them to think big and experience some hands-on career opportunities in STEM fields and the trades. (Think power tools, welding, coding, and fire-fighting!)

I wish you all well and look forward to seeing many of you on October 16!

All the best,
~Meg
Meg Smith, Director 
25th Annual Benefit Celebration
Our October 16th celebration welcomes Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey to Vermont. These New York Times  reporters broke the story that accelerated the #MeToo movement and raised the voices of millions of victims of sexual harassment and abuse.
 
The Women’s Fund event coincides with the release of their book, She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement . This book recounts their months of investigative journalism that laid bare the “open secret” of sexual harassment in the movie industry by Harvey Weinstein, along with stories from women in other industries. What followed is a fundamental social shift that continues to change our workplaces, homes, and communities.
 
As we learned from Jodi's visit to Vermont in 2016, her reporting on gender equity began long before the Weinstein story. Jodi broke into Silicon Valley’s web of pay inequity and vast gender gaps in employment, leadership, and investing. Her story about breastfeeding mothers sparked Sascha Mayer and Christine Dodson of Burlington, Vermont to launch Mamava , a manufacturer of lactation suites that provide safe and comfortable breastfeeding spaces for moms everywhere and anywhere. Megan Twohey's prior reporting for Reuters , the Chicago Tribune , and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal focused on women and children and several of her stories resulted in the formation of new laws protecting vulnerable children and victims of rape.
 
We look forward to hearing from Jodi and Megan about this astonishing time and how their work has influenced the advancement of gender equity. Our emcee extraordinaire, Jane Lindholm, from Vermont Public Radio will moderate the evening.
 
We hope that you join us on October 16th for our Annual Celebration. As we write this message, we have less than 250 tickets available. Learn more about the event and purchase tickets on our website
Partner News
We are proud to share news from our partners and grantees, Change The Story and Vermont Works for Women this month.

Drive for Diversity Starts with Data
How do we know our true diversity when we don't collect data? Tiffany Bluemle, Director of Change The Story, recently wrote about how little data exists a bout women and women of color and precisely why they are compelled to count, assess, and examine data.
"Collecting and publishing data makes a statement – about what we value, who is visible, and the priorities that drive our decision-making. If we’re serious about attracting and nurturing diversity, we’ve got to stop wringing our hands about the limits of the Census and pursue and make public the data that public and private organizations can collect."

So what are we doing about it? We are funding Change The Story to dig deep into issues to advance the economic status of women. This starts with knowing where we are to set a path forward. Read Tiff’s full commentary and stay tuned for new data from the initiative this year. 
Rosie’s Girls:
20 Years & Still in Demand
Vermont Works for Women (VWW) launched their signature camp for girls 20 years ago and the Women’s Fund has been a proud supporter through each stage of growth. This program teaches young women and non-conforming youth how to use power tools, weld, build, and explore STEM careers. At the same time, they learn self-confidence while confronting stereotypes and tapping their inner strength.

VWW’s Executive Director, Jen Oldman, recently shared commentary on what happens when you give a girl a power tool:
If you give a girl a power tool… initially, there may be amazement at being invited to use a table saw, or a power drill, or a welder. Then comes the thrill (and perhaps a touch of fear?) at the first encounter with the noise and power of the tool in their hands. Then, whether after the first try, or after a week of using the tools to build and create, comes the realization, “Oh, I can SO do this!” And the game is on.

What was once viewed as the domain of boys is exposed to be equally the domain of girls. What once felt off limits or “too hard” is proven to be well within reach. Doubt is replaced by confidence. Works of art are created. Awareness grows of how gender bias affects what we learn and how we think about ourselves and our future. And seeds are planted about what other gender stereotypes might be just as easily debunked. (Hint: the sky’s the limit!)

Read more about how Rosie’s Girls are transformed in Jen’s full commentary on VTDigger.

Rosie’s Girls will offer their first after-school programs this fall. Watch their website for details.

Sign-up now for VWW’s Women Can Do conference, promoting STEM and trades careers, on October 17th at Vermont Tech.
Countdown to 100
In 2020, we celebrate the 100 th anniversary of women voting in the United States. The Vermont Suffrage Centennial Alliance is making plans now for a year of events. The committee is led by the League of Women Voters of Vermont and next meets in December.

Special Thanks
Special thank you to our friends at Gravel & Shea and M. Kraus & Co. who hosted an evening at Philo Ridge Farm for their colleagues to kick-off our season of anniversary celebrations. We welcomed new friends to the Women’s Fund and caught up with long-standing donors. See more photos on our Facebook page.

Thanks to Philo Ridge Farm and Stone Cutter Spirits to tasty refreshments that made the event even more lively.
The Vermont Women's Fund newsletter is made possible by our 25th Anniversary sponsors.