Vol. 4, No. 1
December 2016/January 2017
Women's March on Chicago
to be Held on January 21st

Dismayed by what they heard and saw during the 2016 presidential campaign, several women met online in mid-November and decided to organize a local march in response. Under the slogan, "Connect, Protect, Activate," women and supportive men will meet on Saturday, January 21st at 10 a.m. at Petrillo Bandshell in Chicago's Grant Park to make their voices heard to the new administration in Washington. The intention is to connect people from diverse backgrounds, protect women's rights, and activate people to advance an agenda of fairness, equality and justice. Supporting organizations (those who are contributing significant time, resources and funds) include American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE Local 704); Chicago Teachers Union (CTU); National Organization for Women (NOW); National Rainbow Push Coalition; Service Employees International Union (SEIU);and Windy City Times. Participating groups, who have registered and are recruiting marchers, include American Association of University Women-Illinois; Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network; First Congregational Church of Evanston; Mujeres Latinas en Acción; National Council of Jewish Women (Chicago North Shore and South Cook Section); and Pax Christi USA, Illinois. For more information, including downloadable fliers and names of speakers, go to http://womens121marchonchicago.org/faqs/

While not affiliated with the Women's March on Washington, Chicago's march honors the national one by holding ours on the same date. The March on Washington was initiated as a response to the negative and divisive language that characterized the recent presidential election. Held on January 21st at 10 a.m, the day after the inauguration, its aim is to send a powerful message that women's rights are human rights, and that the rights of people of all races, sexual orientations and gender identities, immigration statuses, religions, and abilities must be respected. The D.C. march has inspired numerous "sister" marches in virtually every state and Puerto Rico. Many other countries are also holding marches. For more information on the Washington march, as well as sister city marches, go to https://www.womensmarch.com/sisters


Two Promising Books that Tell Chicago Stories and One Exhibit

Reverend Addie Wyatt: Faith and the Fight for Labor, Gender, and Racial Equality by Marcia Walker-McWilliams. 2016. University of Illinois Press.
Addie Wyatt (1924 - 2012) was a migrant from the South to Chicago. In Chicago she became a labor leader, a civil rights activist, a women's activist, and a reverend. In 1975 Time Magazine named her as one of the 12 Women of the Year, an honor that irritated Addie because by selecting 12 women, the article omitted millions of faceless, nameless women who had also made contributions. (WWHP knew Addie. We interviewed her, wrote a play about her, had her as part of a conference, and a number of us had a personal relationship with her.)

Marcia Walker McWilliams, who received her doctorate in American history from the University of Chicago, came to the Vivian G. Harsh Collection of Afro-American Life to get information about Addie. Addie had donated her papers to the Harsh Collection which is housed at the Carter Woodson Library at 95th and Halsted. Marcia ended up cataloguing them all. She has written a beautiful biography that captures not only Addie Wyatt, but also the social justice movements that Addie participated in and led.

A Fight for the Soul of Public Education: The Story of the Chicago Teachers Strike by Steven Ashby and Robert Bruno, both Professors of Labor and Employment Relations in the School of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. 2016. Cornell University Press.

The authors interweave the story of the transformation of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) into a members driven union and the story of the bargaining process for a city contract with the CTU that began with issues of compensation and moved into a defense of public education and a challenge to a national education reform movement.

Traveling Exhibit

"Unpacking Collections: The Legacy of Cuesta Benberry, an African American Quilt Scholar" is a traveling exhibit of the textile collections of the late Cuesta Benberry, one of the twentieth-century's pioneers of research on American quilt making, and a forerunner in research on African American quiltmaking. The exhibit includes several dozen quilts, including an extremely modern-looking quilt that was in fact created in 1876. The exhibit at the DuSable Museum located at 740 East 56th Place (57th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue) opened in November and runs through March 2017.


Editor's Note:
We received fewer submissions than we expected.  Almost exclusively, they covered instances where women's work was valued less -- or not at all -- as in Christine's quip about motherhood rather than instances in which a man and woman were doing the exact same work and receiving different paychecks.
January 9th PBS aired "Closing the Gap: 50 years seeking equal pay." Sharon Epperson hosted CEOs of YWCA, NOW, Ms. Magazine, and AAUW in front of a live audience. Between talk segments, they showed an interview with Lily Ledbetter; a researcher who spoke about the public's perception of women who negotiate their salaries; a case of a woman brought to her knees financially because of a divorce; the effect of caregiving on occupation choice. One of the most striking segments described the cumulative effect of the pay gap on women's retirement income: that introduced the term "wealth gap." Of course, the women hardest hit are those in the lowest income levels, often racial or ethnic minorities. Check out the website of the Pittsburgh YWCA: www.womenwagegap.org
Anonymous: My husband and I were graduate students in the early 1970's. My husband was given a halftime assistantship while I was given a quarter time one. I didn't think much about it; I simply thought his credentials were better than mine. About two months into the program I realized that everyone else had a halftime assistantship. So I went to my boss and I asked him to explain the discrepancy. He said I was the first female assistant in the department and I was an experiment. Therefore, they were paying me less. I responded that I did not think that was fair and I was doing a good job. He agreed and gave me the halftime assistantship. I don't think that this discrepancy would happen today.

Christine Lewis, age 45, with a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education, mother of four and volunteers extensively: "Pay has never been enough for moms."

I-chun Liu: I'm sure this Irish saying resonates with many women family caregivers now providing unpaid care for an elderly parent: "A son is a son till he takes a wife, a daughter's a daughter the rest of her life."

According to the National Institute on Aging, there are nearly 15 million Americans who provide unpaid care to an older adult (for example, a family member, spouse, partner, friend or neighbor) (  https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/infographics/make-yourself-priority-too-tips-caregivers). And statistics provided by the Institute on Aging ( https://www.ioaging.org/aging-in-america) note:
  • Upwards of 75 percent of all caregivers are women.
  • Female caregivers may spend as much as 50 percent more time providing care than men.
  • The economic value of the informal care provided by women is estimated at somewhere between $148 billion and $188 billion annually. [ed's emphasis]
As a Chinese-American daughter providing care for my mother, I am always praised by her friends for displaying great filial piety as her family caregiver. These aunties now all chant a common phrase -- "It's better to have daughters!" -- a complete reversal of the millennia-old Chinese preference for sons over daughters.

Unfortunately, 21st-century daughters of every ethnic background who provide this unpaid care often must leave their jobs in order to handle family caregiving responsibilities (  http://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2016/10/10/caregiving-is-forcing-women-50-to-leave-the-workforce/#6ec74bc364d9). The cost of leaving the workforce includes lost wages, pensions and Social Security benefits over a lifetime that could total more than $300,000.
Among the baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964), more and more men are shouldering family caregiving responsibilities. Can this generation once again help to change history -- as it has done so many times in the past? Together, daughters and sons must advocate for accommodations in the workplace as well as public policies and legislation that address the challenges and issues faced by family caregivers.
Joan Morris: I have worked as part-time college professor in Chicago teaching English and tutoring for about 20 years. Part-time for a number of reasons: My husband works full-time. I can devote time to my writing and family. When one of my sons was in school, it was important to be around for him. I was partly responsible for my mother for about ten years. She had Alzheimer's and heart disease. So, some of the wage gap is because of family responsibilities for children and caregiving for parents. I think it is important for employers to allow for time off for these responsibilities and also for people to get a fair living wage, so that families don't need for both wage earners to be full time, just to afford necessities and health insurance. However, at all of my jobs, I received the same wage as males in the same positions.
Helen Ramirez-Odell: CTU members make the same amount of money per the Board/Union contract.

Lauren, 27, has a Master's in Mental Health Counseling: "All the jobs I have had where males had the same position, I received the same pay as them." Lauren worked as a library assistant and a pharmacy tech in Kentucky. In the Chicago area she worked at an agency that helped women who were victims of domestic violence, first as a therapist and later doing administrative work and acting as an advocate at the Lake County Courthouse.
Marsha Katz: The gender gap is more complicated than most people recognize. Let me give a personal example. When I was first starting my career, I taught at the college level as an adjunct professor at several different schools. Later I applied for full-time positions. I received two job offers: one teaching psychology courses in a Psychology Department and the other a job teaching HR courses in a Management Department. The human resource management position paid approximately 2/3 more in salary and benefits. The Psychology Department had a mixture of male and female faculty members. On the other hand, I was the second female faculty member in the Management Department. I found out later that this pay discrepancy was normal. Departments that had predominantly male faculty tended to pay more than departments that were predominantly female, even though the jobs were identical. Those who chose to write about this phenomenon called it a comparable worth issue. It is still a major issue for gender equity.


Corrections to "Haven't Made It Yet!"
from our November newsletter

The year of Margaret Chase Smith's death was misstated. She died in 1995, not 1955.
Margaret Chase Smith and Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm were misidentified, respectively, as "First Woman to Run on the Ticket of a Major Party," and "First Woman to Run on the Democratic Party Ticket." They ran in their respective parties' primaries, but not on their parties' tickets.
Additional women who have run for president include Jill Stein (Green Party, 2012 and 2016); Carol Mosely Braun (Democratic primary, 2004), and Carly Fiorina (Republican primary, 2016)

Like us on Facebook