Author Archives: waynea

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: Equal pay law should be improved — Jan. 30, 2019

AAUW Honolulu members Younghee Overly and Susan Wurtzburg penned this op-ed about what issues regarding pay equality still need to be addressed in the new state legislative session.

Read it here or if you aren’t a subscriber to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, read it below.


Equal pay law should be improved
By Susan Wurtzburg and Younghee Overly

January 30, 2019

The AAUW, a nonprofit headquartered in Washington, D.C., with a Hawaii state organization and six local branches, is committed to promoting women’s equality in education, work and leadership. AAUW-Hawaii is active in supporting state legislation to diminish the gender pay gap.

A recent success was the passage of Senate Bill 2351 (Equal Pay) in the 2018 legislative session, which was signed into law (Act 108) by Gov. David Ige on July 5. Act 108 now mandates that employers may not request previous salary information from job applicants. This should help women to avoid taking a gender penalty into new employment.

Given this history, one might ask: “That was 2018, but what is happening now?” We would direct attention to the recent flurry of bills introduced at the state Capitol: On Jan. 24, state Rep. Aaron Ling Johanson, House Committee on Labor and Public Employment chairman, introduced HB1192, “relating to equal pay,” while Sen. Brian Taniguchi, Senate Committee on Labor, Culture and the Arts chairman, introduced the companion bill, SB1375.

These two bills are important for women and ethnic-minority workers in Hawaii, who are paid less than white men, based on full-time employees’ median wage data. Women as a group are paid 81 percent of what white male employees in Hawaii get, and women of color receive still lower wages. These numbers are worse than in 2015, when women’s pay was 84 percent of men’s in Hawaii. These data are from American Community Surveys, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, and appear on the AAUW-National website, along with other resources.

With the worsening of women’s salaries in Hawaii, it is important to pass this year’s equal pay bill to drive improvements. The bill focuses on “pay transparency,” the definition of paid work, and “protected classes,” among other issues. None of these are particularly sexy topics, but they are all fundamental for achieving a fairer workplace environment in Hawaii, so women, and those who live with, or care about women should pay attention and submit supportive testimony.

“Pay transparency” deals with just that: allowing employees to understand how potential and current employers set wage rates for different types of positions. Currently, employers do not have to provide a salary range in job advertisements. This means that employees may face gender penalties in job offers received. This is one of the many factors underpinning the current gender differences in salaries identified across the U.S.

The definition of “work” allows wage comparisons across job types and industries. There has been a move to use the term “substantially similar work” on the mainland. This allows for a more thoughtful consideration of salaries, based on the examination of the actual tasks, rather than just the job titles.

We know that bias and stereotypes of employers affect the wages of people perceived to be different from their colleagues. Naming differences, as “protected classes” is a way of shielding people from employment harm, and providing them with legal redress when they are harmed. For this reason, an expansion of “protected classes” to include “gender identity or expression, arrest and court record, or domestic or sexual violence victim status,” among others, is important, and a welcome step forward in a time of increased hate crimes and discriminatory actions.

Greater attention paid to factors diminishing women’s pay packets in comparison to those of their male colleagues results in a happier work force. These types of laws benefit employers as well as employees, in moving Hawaii toward a more gender- equitable work environment.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser: New Year Hope: Fewer Victims of Sex Assault, Harassment — Jan. 1, 2019

AAUW Honolulu member Serena Del Mundo and women’s rights attorney Elizabeth Fujiwara penned this opinion piece about sexual harassment and assault in Hawaii.

Read it here or if you aren’t a subscriber to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, read it below.


New year hope: Fewer victims of sex assault, harassment
By Serena Del Mundo and Elizabeth Fujiwara

January 1, 2019

With 2019 here, it’s time to reflect on the past year and work to improve this year. We’d like to see the state of Hawaii resolve that paradise is no place for sexual harassment or assault.

The issue of sexual harassment was in the spotlight during the last legislative session, when former state House Speaker Rep. Joe Souki admitted to the state Ethics Commission that he touched and kissed “more than one woman in ways that were inappropriate and unwelcome” and made sexual comments, including comments on physical appearance, to more than one woman. Souki was forced to quit.

This was just one example of sexual harassment at the workplace. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed charges of sexual harassment in 93 cases in 2017. This was from an overall total of 294 charges — or nearly a third of the agency’s total filed in Hawaii.

However, in 2016, the EEOC also reported that about 75 percent of sexual harassment cases go unreported. Even more distressing: the EEOC estimates anywhere from 25 percent to 85 percent of women experience sexual harassment. Industries that are male-dominated, service industries and women in low-wage positions all have higher instances of sexual harassment, according to the National Women’s Law Center.

Women in low-paid service jobs in Waikiki seem to demonstrate the findings of the law center.

The EEOC took action against numerous Waikiki bars for their hostile work environments, and one of the issues fought for by the hotel workers in their recent 51-day strike were policies to better protect service staff from sexual harassment from hotel customers.

According to the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office, 601 cases of rape were reported statewide in 2016, making up 17.4 percent of the violent crimes reported for the year.

But like sexual harassment, many rape cases go unreported. A National Institute of Justice report found that only 36 percent of rapes, 34 percent of attempted rapes, and 26 percent of sexual assaults were reported in a study that looked at statistics from 1992 to 2000.

The NIJ study also found the reasons for not reporting rape or sexual assault were self-blame or guilt; shame, embarrassment, or the desire to keep the assault a private matter; humiliation or fear of the perpetrator or other individual’s perceptions; fear of not being believed or of being accused of playing a role in the crime, and lack of trust in the criminal justice system.

Those reasons could also be why so few sexual harassment cases are reported.

It’s important that with this new year, the state understand that sexual harassment and rape cases are complex matters. Victims need to be safe, feel safe and be taken seriously. Reports of the backlog of rape kits yet to be processed by the Honolulu Police Department, some of them older than the six-year statute of limitations for rape, does not serve the victims or the justice they seek.

The U.S. Department of Education, under Betsy DeVos, is proposing changes to the policies regarding sexual harassment. Under DeVos’ proposal, sexual harassment would not be reportable unless it’s so severe and pervasive that it “denies” a student’s access to education — i.e., the student has been forced to drop out of a class or out of school altogether.

We urge Hawaii to ensure that current federal Title IX guarantees are also state guarantees.

While most of the exposure Title IX receives is through high school and college sports, such as the recent class-action lawsuit involving Campbell High School’s female student athletes, Title IX also ensures girls and women have procedures in place and rights when dealing with sexual harassment and sexual assault issues in any school that receives federal funding.

Our sincere hope is that in the coming year, a real, meaningful change for the better can be made and there will be fewer victims of sexual harassment and assault.

New Member Profile: Diane Radcliffe

Diane Radcliffe has been a member of AAUW for 45 years, joining in 1973 after she graduated from the University of Illinois, Chicago.

She joined AAUW a little after moving to South Bend, In, on her graduation day. When she moved to Hawaii, she joined AAUW Honolulu and was an active member for many years.

Diane was a founding member of AAUW’s Diamond Head/Koko Head branch. She’s held several different positions for that group, including President on several occasions.

Talk Story Tuesday (March 2019)

You won’t want to miss this Talk Story Tuesday — we’ll screen and discuss RBG, the documentary about Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We’ll provide drinks and snack during the screening, with enough time for discussion.

We’ll also have a  Ruth Bader Ginsburg costume contest! There’s three categories to compete in:

  • Best RBG-Style Collar
  • Best Contemporary RBG
  • Best 1970s-Era RBG

Doors open — 5:30 p.m.
Mingling/food — 5:30 to 6 p.m.
Screening of RGB — 6 p.m. to 7:35 p.m.

Psst…spread the word and invite your friends and family!

All ages welcome!

When: March 12, 2019.
Where: The movie theater at Waiea Condos (1118 Ala Moana Blvd).
Guests must RSVP ahead of time so that they can be admitted at the door
Parking: No parking in the building; street parking is available.

RSVP below!

Book Discussion Group (April 2019)

Come enjoy waterfront pupus and dynamic conversation about Michelle Obama’s best-selling biography, Becoming, and the state of women in America with AAUW Honolulu members and friends!

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own `terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

When: Thursday, April 18, 2019, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Where:  Waikiki Yacht Club (1599 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814), ask for Mary Ann Eichorn when checking in
Pupus hosted by AAUW Honolulu
No host cocktails (bring cash for drink purchases)

Talk Story Tuesday (Feb. 2019)

Give yourself a treat! Meet, mingle and enjoy complimentary pupus and beverages at happy hour prices. Talk Story Tuesdays is the intersection of casual conversation and a great AAUW program.

We’ll discuss disability rights and upending assumptions about disabilities. Justin Salisbury and Barbara Fischlowitz-Leong (M. Ed. and Executive Director / CEO of Assistive Technology Resource Centers of Hawaii).

Psst…spread the word and invite your friends and family!

All ages welcome!

Complimentary pupus and wine specials!

WHEN: Feb. 12, 2019 ~ 5:30-7:30pm
WHERE: The Plaza Club, Pioneer Plaza, 900 Fort St Mall,20th & Fl 21, Honolulu, HI 96813
Parking: Plaza Club is $3.75 after 5 pm with validation. in the Pioneer Plaza; nearby municipal lots, $3. Street parking may be available.

Book Discussion Group (Jan 2019)

Please join us for evening of pupus provided by AAUW Honolulu and no-host cocktails as we discuss Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover.

An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University.

Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom.

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills” bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard.

Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.

When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University.

There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University.

Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing one’s closest ties.

With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

When: Thursday, January 17, 2019, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Where:  Waikiki Yacht Club (1599 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814)

Please RSVP by Jan. 12.

AAUW Grant Profile: Tanya Dreizin

Tanya Dreizin is a graduate student working toward her M.A. at Hawaii Pacific University in its Global Leadership and Sustainable Development program, focusing on waste management and sustainability within Oahu’s tourism industry.

She’s an active part of the community, volunteering with The Arch Project, and taking part in a semester-long internship at the Sierra Club. Her passion for sustainability dovetails with her interests in rock climbing, hiking and traveling.

With her grant from AAUW Honolulu, Tanya attended the the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago. The conference brings together leaders from a variety of different backgrounds and disciplines, such as sustainability, health, social welfare, diplomacy, and more.

She said, “The opportunity to attend this conference has connected me with multiple leaders who are in the process of starting and funding new organizations that aim to serve communities abroad and at home! I attended plenaries where I learned so much about leadership development, fostering outreach among communities, and how to successfully work with various stakeholders. I was also able to network with professionals, such as the Director of Philosophy of Patagonia and more, which I hope can create potential opportunities in the future!”

If you’re interested in learning more about AAUW Honolulu’s Career and Leadership Development Grant, and when the applications will be taken, click here!

Talk Story Tuesday (Jan. 2019)

Give yourself a treat! Meet, mingle and enjoy complimentary pupus and beverages at happy hour prices. Talk Story Tuesdays is the intersection of casual conversation and a great AAUW program.

We’ll discuss the future of pay equity in Hawaii. Jean Evans, AAUW member of the public policy committee, and Sheri-Ann Lau Clark, vice-president, corporate secretary and general counsel for the Hawai’i Employers Council will be our guests.

Psst…spread the word and invite your friends and family!

All ages welcome!

Complimentary pupus and wine specials!

WHEN: Jan. 8, 2019 ~ 5:30-7:30pm
WHERE: The Plaza Club, Pioneer Plaza, 900 Fort St Mall,20th & Fl 21, Honolulu, HI 96813
Parking: Plaza Club is $3.75 after 5 pm with validation. in the Pioneer Plaza; nearby municipal lots, $3. Street parking may be available.

AAUW Grant Profile: Chelsey Stewart

Chelsey Stewart was recently named campus survivor advocate, based at the Windward and Honolulu Community College campuses, by the Domestic Violence Action Center as part of its Campus Survivor Advocacy Program.

Prior to becoming her position as an advocate, she worked for DVAC as a helpline specialist. She’s worked with the ACLU of Hawaii and Washington states, Legal Aid Society of Hawaii’s Fair Housing Enforcement Program, U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service, and the Hawaii Department of the Attorney General’s Crime Prevention & Justice Assistance Division. She credits those past experiences for her current position with DVAC.

In addition to the skills she gained from work and internships,Chelsey is a proud graduate of Chaminade University of Honolulu (BS Criminology and Criminal Justice ’12, MS Criminal Justice Administration ’15).

Chelsey thanks AAUW Honolulu for the opportunity to use its Career and Leadership Development Grant to attend the 2019 Conference on Crimes Against Women (“CCAW”) in Dallas, Texas next April.

“As an Advocate for college students and faculty that are going through abusive relationships, I am excited to participate in the CCAW’s Campus Safety Summit, which covers the first half of the weeklong conference and focuses on relationship violence prevention and response. I am looking forward to networking and gaining valuable insight to ways I can improve the CSAP program and campus environment for domestic violence victims in Hawaii. Mahalo,” she said.

If you’re interested in learning more about AAUW Honolulu’s Career and Leadership Development Grant, and when the applications will be taken, click here!