On Thursday, May 15, twenty AAUW members from Virginia and Maryland came to Washington to lobby the U.S. House of Representatives on the Pathways Advancing Career Training Act (H.R. 5774).
The PACT Act would provide financial assistance to states for training programs that prepare women for employment in high-wage, high-skill fields where they are often underrepresented. AAUW strongly believes that access to high-wage, high-skill jobs should be a right for women and girls from diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, age, and disability backgrounds. When accepted in fields traditionally dominated by men, women workers can begin to close the persistent wage gap between women and men.
We met in the House cafeteria for a briefing by Anne Hedgepeth, AAUW Policy Assistant, and Lisa Maatz, Director of Public Policy. Prior to lobbying, the AAUW staff selected offices based on each congressperson’s likelihood to become a cosponsor of the bill. After the briefing, we split into pairs to visit seven offices.
Upon entering an office, we introduced ourselves as volunteer lobbyists from AAUW and asked to speak to the legislative aide for education issues. Most pairs were able to talk to three or four education LA’s. If they weren’t available, we left a handwritten note along with a letter from the AAUW staff. I often wonder if these days the LA’s, usually in their 20’s, think our handwritten notes are pleasantly quaint.
After visiting each assigned office, we met for lunch at Bullfeathers, an upscale sandwich and salad restaurant popular among congressional staffers, named for a favorite saying of President Truman.
This article will appear in the Summer 2008 AAUW of Virginia newsletter.