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THE VERMONT COMMISSION ON WOMEN (VCW)
- Engages partnerships and networks diverse groups to consider issues of interest to women and take action
- Provides information to the legislature and other policy makers on issues affecting women
- Provides the most local and most appropriate information and referrals to individuals on matters related to women and families
- Conducts research, produces reports and publications, and maintains a comprehensive resource directory
Selected by multiple appointing authorities, Commissioners come from all parts of the state and across the political spectrum. Commissioners bring multiple perspectives to decision-making: as women with family responsibilities, as workers often in the lowest paying jobs, as employers and business owners. The Commission is a deliberative body, and decisions are adopted by majority vote. Learn more about what we do, our work and who we are.
NEW: EQUAL PAY ACT CASE DECISION ISSUED
Read the Press Release: (MONTPELIER, June 13, 2013) – Federal District Court Judge William Sessions has issued a decision in Dreves v. Hudson News late yesterday, the first case implicating Vermont's Equal Pay law… (PDF file, 32 KB)
Read the Court's Decision (PDF file, 87 KB)
Background: On March 19th a hearing took place in US District Court in the first case interpreting the Vermont Equal Pay Act of 2002. The Vermont Commission on Women was joined by numerous national and state organizations and public policy leaders in educating the court on the enduring problem of gender based wage discrimination and urging it to interpret Vermont's law to provide broad remedy to victims of such discrimination. Vermont Law School students lead by professor Cheryl Hanna crafted this amicus brief (PDF file, 316 KB) which explains why Vermont’s Equal Pay Act is important, why and how wage discrimination continues to take place, and how this legal remedy should function for Vermont women.
VCW In the News - Equal Pay
In NY Times: The Unspoken Stigma of Workplace Flexibility
In Times Argus: Vermont takes lead in closing wage gap
On CBS: Cary Brown on WCAX’s The :30 on Monday 6/17: http://www.wcax.com/story/22614653/vt-commission-on-women-explains-equal-pay-battles
On Mark Johnson Show: May 17th show on equal pay is now in podcast at: http://blog.markjohnsonshow.net/2013/06/10/51713-comedy-festequal-pay-law.aspx
Vermont Woman features VCW's legislative wrap up piece (in this month’s edition): http://vermontwoman.com/articles/2013/0613/equalpaylaw/eyesofceres.html
In Rutland Herald: http://www.rutlandherald.com/article/20130614/THISJUSTIN/130619949
Since 1977, The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont has been a “go to” source of information for Vermont women, their families, and the professionals that serve them. This handbook, written in plain language covers issues affecting all Vermonters, such as marriage and divorce, adoption, wills and probate, women’s health, employment and education, housing and public accommodations, violence, public assistance and government benefits, insurance, as well as others. New features of our latest update (January ‘12) include information on human trafficking, same sex marriage, and immigration, as well as links to our online resource directory and to federal and state statute websites. The result is a reader-friendly document with easy-access reference links. Listen to our radio public service announcement, check out the handbook and let us know what you think! Thanks to students at Vermont Law School, Spanish language editions of many chapters of the newly updated Legal Rights of Women in Vermont handbook are now available!
On Tuesday May 14th Governor Shumlin signed into law a bill strengthening protections for Vermont workers around a number of issues, most notably for equal pay. The law includes provisions for equal pay; protections for employees who ask coworkers what they are paid; certification of compliance of government contractors with Vermont’s equal pay laws; protections for new mothers who must express breast milk for their babies at work; protections for employees to request flexible work arrangements; and establishment of a study committee looking at the mechanics of a paid family leave law in Vermont. Cary Brown, VCW's Executive Director and member of the diverse coalition of groups that worked together on this legislation observed, “This law provides a wealth of tools for addressing inequities in pay and working conditions, and is a huge benefit to working families in Vermont. It strengthens and clarifies existing laws ensuring equal pay for equal work, increases the accountability of state contractors, and creates new protections for workers who discuss wages. This law makes Vermont the first state in the country to guarantee employees’ right to request flexible working arrangements, supporting both men’s and women’s participation in work and family responsibilities.” State agencies, including the Attorney General’s office, the Human Rights Commission and the Vermont Commission on Women, will be working together on a public information campaign targeted at workers and employers to let them know about the new law’s provisions. Learn more. (PDF file, 55 KB)
We're hiring! VCW is now recruiting for a position to start in July! Learn more. (PDF file, 85 KB)
VCW in partnership with the University of Vermont Women's and Gender Studies program, gathered a diverse group of professionals for a panel discussion concerning paid sick days for Vermont workers at UVM on April 22nd. A broad conversation took place about Vermont’s current labor practices around paid time off policies, the dynamics of Vermont’s employers and labor force, and the issue of paid sick and safe days from a policy perspective. Kristin Carlson of WCAX TV facilitated the discussion. Welcome was provided by Cary Brown the Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women. An introduction to the topic was provided by UVM’s Dr. Felicia Kornbluh, the Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program and a current VCW Commissioner. Panelists included: Representative Johannah Donovan of Burlington, Chair of the Vermont House Committee on Education; Dr. Elaine McCrate Associate Professor of Economics and Women’s and Gender Studies at UVM, Ellen Bravo Executive Director of the national Family Values at Work Coalition, Dan Barlow of Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility, Lindsay DesLauriers of the Vermont Paid Sick Days Coalition. The Commission is grateful to our host for this event, the UVM Women's and Gender Studies Program. Current VCW Commissioner Dr. Felicia Kornbluh is also both Associate Professor of History and Director of this program. Learn more. (PDF file, 43 KB)
VCW’s Advisory Council member Vermont Works for Women’s (VWW) "Enough Said” report revealed that many young women across our state consider themselves ill-equipped and under-prepared for the challenges of school, work, career, economic independence, and adulthood - absolutes that await them in the not-to-distant future. "Enough Said - Young Women Talk about School, Work and Becoming Adults: Why We Should Listen and What We Can Do" incorporates national research and references best practices. It is the result of in-depth interviews, surveys, and listening to more than 210 young women and girls, ages 15-25, from 28 communities, Brattleboro to St. Johnsbury, the majority from families of limited financial means. VCW is a member of VWW’s Taskforce on Young Women and the Economy and looks forward to making positive change for Vermont’s girls.
VCW and the Vermont Historical Society's Vermont Women’s History Project team up every year to mark March as Women’s History Month.
Vermont Women in Journalism took place Tuesday, March 26th at the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier. A wall-to-wall crowd, including journalism students, enjoyed the lively, humorous and sometimes poignant panel discussion, which included Anne Galloway of Vermont Digger, Nina Keck of Vermont Public Radio, Kristin Carlson of WCAX – Channel 3, and Terri Hallenbeck of the Burlington Free Press, along with dynamic moderator Rickey Gard Diamond of Vermont Woman. Historian Marilyn Blackwell provided context and set the stage with detailed stories of women who blazed this trail. Panelists responded to questions like: What inspired you to go into journalism? Were there any female role models that paved the way? Do you see more women rising to leadership roles than you did when starting out? Have you ever felt the glass ceiling in journalism, and if so, do you think that’s changed during your time in the profession? Special thanks to event sponsors and to all who attended! ORCA Media, Montpelier area’s community access television station filmed the event . Vermont Public Radio runs a commentary series in conjunction with the women's history month theme, spearheaded by historian and writer Cyndy Bittinger.
Last year's event focused on women in the field of law and featured a panel discussion, Women of Change: Making Strides in Women’s Legal Rights in the 70s and 80s, led by Vermont Law School Professor Cheryl Hanna. The expert panel included Sandy Baird, Esquire; Senator Peg Flory; the Honorable Denise Johnson; and Mary Just Skinner, Esquire. The audience learned about how the battle for women’s names to appear in the phonebook was won; what it was like to be one of the first 100 female lawyers in practice; what influenced decisions to run for public office; and what it’s like to serve and represent women, particularly survivors of domestic violence. This event coincided with the release of the VCW’s 6th edition of The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont, a handbook to help the layperson understand legal rights and responsibilities under state and federal law. VCW would like to thank the Action Circles team for capturing this discussion in a video. Vermont Public Radio presented a week-long commentary series in collaboration with the Commission and the Project – link and listen here.
2011's event Honored and Acknowledged the Military Service of Vermont Women from World War II to Present and shared the stories of Vermont women veterans from WWII to Afghanistan.
Equal Pay Day was Tuesday April 9th - the symbolic day when women's earnings catch up to men's from the previous year. It takes an extra three months thanks to the 23-percent wage gap in the U.S.. Vermont does a bit better, but our wage gap is still about 16-percent. VCW and Business and Professional Women joined legislators and a huge group of Girls on the Run girls at the signing of the 2013 Equal Pay Day proclamation. Legislators will receive Equal Pay Buttons attached to a coupon for 16% off all goods and services for working Vermont women. The other side of the coupon reads: "April 9, 2013 symbolizes how far into the year a woman must work, on average, to earn as much as a man earned the previous year. In Vermont, women earn 84 cents for every man’s dollar. Equal pay can make a difference in whether families can afford healthcare, child care, higher education, and a secure retirement." What can you do about the wage gap? Read our Equal Pay Brochure (PDF file, 65 KB)
The Central Vermont Job Fair took place April 4th in Montpelier. VCW was one of many organizations coordinating this annual job fair. 785 job seekers attended - 453 in the first 1/5 hour! The event featured 47 vendor booths, most employers with job openings.
Our Women in Public Life Report issued January 11th 2013 features a historical look at women lawmakers in Vermont and also women serving on state Boards and Commissions. Vermont currently ranks second in the nation for the percentage of women serving in the legislature, with a total of 40.6%. Colorado is first at 42%. Serving on a boards or commissions is often a stepping stone to elected office, and where many Vermonters first learn about running and participating in public meetings. Currently, of Vermont’s 227 boards and commissions, 95 (or 42%) are gender balanced. Read Vermont Women in Public Life (PDF file, 317 KB)
We've recently updated Vermont Workplaces Support Nursing Moms (PDF file, 1.17 MB), information for women returning to the workforce after having a baby and their employers. In addition, VCW partnered with Vermont's Breastfeeding Network and the Department of Health to offer free help to all Vermont businesses welcoming back their new working moms. Vermont workplaces need lower health care costs, lower turnover rates, lower absenteeism rates, and higher employee productivity and morale. How to get them? Lactation support!
VCW's presented a listening forum focused on issues affecting teen girls in Bennington County in partnership with Bennington County Maternal Child Health Coalition in late 2012. Participants included young women, parents, and community members working in the fields of medicine, social services, education, law enforcement, and public policy. VCW uses the information gathered at Listening Forums to inform our work on behalf of women and families in Vermont and to share with policy makers and various state and community organizations to strengthen and inform programming and services. Read notes from the Bennington listening forum. (PDF file, 78 KB)
Learn more, get involved: join our Vermont Information Exchange for Women (VIEW) network, a community calendar for women. Read the lastest VIEW messages:
June 10th (PDF file, 17 KB)
June 5th (PDF file, 39 KB)
May 24th (PDF file, 48 KB)
May 16 (PDF file, 57 KB)
May 3 (PDF file, 71 KB)
April 24 (PDF file, 25 KB)
April 17 (PDF file, 16 KB)
April 9 (PDF file, 13 KB)
April 4 (PDF file, 67 KB)
April 2 (PDF file, 18 KB)
March 22 (PDF, 57 KB)
March 12 (PDF file, 21 KB)
Read the white paper, Reclaiming Lost Ground for Vermont's Incarcerated Women. VCW took part in this collaborative effort to improve conditions for women inmates at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility.
View VCW's Budget for Fical Year (FY) 2014 (PDF file, 399 KB)
Domestic violence doesn't stay home when victims go to work. It can impact productivity, increase absentee rates, and increase the chance of violence in the workplace. VCW worked with the Vermont Attorney General's office, the Vermont Council on Domestic Violence and other advocates to address domestic violence as a public health and safety issue in the workplace.
Domestic Violence: A Workplace Issue (Brochure, PDF file, 77 KB)
Full Report of 2011 Study: How Does Domestic Violence Affect the Vermont Workplace? A survey of male offenders enrolled in batterer intervention programs in Vermont
(Study, PDF file, 1.2 MB) Schmidt, M.C. & Barnett, A. M.C. & Barnett, A. (2011). Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Center for Rural Studies
Executive Summary of Study
(PDF file, 58 KB) Schmidt, M.C. & Barnett, A. M.C. & Barnett, A. (2011). Burlington, VT: University of Vermont, Center for Rural Studies
Model Workplace Policy (PDF file, 41 KB)
Vermont Girls Collaborative Forums -Moderated by Vermont Public Radio’s Jane Lindholm, these forums presented ideas for how to responsibly address racial equality, socioeconomic differences, gender identity and harassment when working with young Vermonters.
The Vermont Girls’ Collaborative is a network of programs for girls in grades K-12 across the state that works together to: leverage the power of girls’ programs through sharing resources, ideas, and relationships; promote girls’ well-being and social equity; expand the capacity of girls’ programs to meet the needs of Vermont girls. Collaborative members include: Vermont Commission on Women, AAUW-National Girls’ Collaborative Project, American Association of University Women, American Legion Auxiliary (Girls State), Burlington Boys and Girls Club, Center for Technology Essex, DREAM, Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, Girls Move Mountains, Girls on the Run, IBM-Women in Technology, Rosie’s Girls Bennington, Rosie’s Girls Rutland, Tech Savvy Girls, Vermont Equity Training & Consulting, The Vermont Women’s Fund, VINS, Kids-A-Part, Vermont Works for Women, Women Writing for (a) Change and YWCA Vermont.
Got questions about equal pay, legal rights, starting a new business, sexual harassment, planning for maternity leave? Our publications address topics like these and many more!
Read VCW's agency brochure
The Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity produces this helpful guide: "What Should Happen When Your Child Reports Harassment"
Don’t know where to go for help? Try our resource directory, from aging and elder issues to legal support to transportation – over 200 pages of Vermont-based organizations.
Did you know Vermont men with just a high school degree make about the same as Vermont women with a Bachelor’s degree? Learn more facts in our status report (PDF file, 735 KB)
Starting or expanding your Vermont business? Ask us for our business resource listing.
The Vermont Historical Society now provides a permanent home for the Vermont Women's History Project Started by the Vermont Commission on Women (VCW) in 2004, the site is a database of individual women searchable by geographical area, time period, area of significance or influence, etc. In addition, the site features historical background information and links to places in Vermont where users can find additional information about the particular woman or topic.
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