Focused on increasing member engagement around women's issues, the NYSUT Women's Steering Committee has started its work in earnest, NYSUT President Karen E. Magee told local leaders at a breakfast presentation during the pre-RA Local and Retiree Council Presidents Conference.
"I want to get more women involved in elections and elected office," she said. "Given the context of our world, these issues are important." She noted that women form 70 percent of NYSUT's membership.
Issues such as pay inequity, childcare costs and access to contraception are critical to NYSUT members, said steering committee member Kerry Broderick, White Plains Teachers Association president, who facilitated the discussion along with Dante Morelli, Faculty Association of Suffolk County Community College.
"We've got to consider how these issues impact us as a union, and how to bridge the gaps," Broderick said. She encouraged attendees to identify members with a passion for women's issues and to get them involved in the committee. "We need to bring the issues experienced by our locals to the forefront."
Morelli screened a video news clip highlighting the heightened focus on looks, clothes and tone of women in the public eye — scrutiny men don't face. "We are taught to play our gender roles in society, and women in leadership are under a very careful microscope," said Morelli, who noted that those perceived as deviating from traditional female roles face criticism.
Broderick also discussed gender-based communication differences, noting that many women prefer collaboration to conflict, a situation which could lead to bullying in the workplace. "Learning more about these kinds of issues are important for all of us," she said.
Magee and NYSUT Vice President Catalina Fortino thanked steering committee members for their hard work so far.