VCW believes that women, girls and their families must have equal access to life-long educational opportunities, so that choices and success are determined not by gender, but by interest, aspiration, and ability.
VCW monitors legislation and public policies, provides research and information, and collaborates on measures that support the following outcomes:
- Schools are free of gender bias, harassment and bullying.
- Women and girls have equal access and encouragement to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
- Women have equal access to workforce training and development throughout their lives.
View VCW's Public Policy Statements HERE.
NEW REPORT: WOMEN'S BUSINESS OWNERSHIP AND THE VERMONT ECONOMY, FROM CHANGE THE STORY
Change The Story VT (CTS) revealed findings on the status of women-owned businesses in Vermont in a keynote address to Women Business Owners Network fall conference participants October 19th. CTS Director Tiffany Bluemle, with Pat Heffernan and Laura Lind‐Blum of Research Partners, and Vermont Commission on Women’s Cary Brown unveiled Women's Business Ownership and the Vermont Economy. This report details both exciting opportunities and great success that owning a business holds for women, as well as barriers and challenges faced, with focus on latent potential. Like CTS’s other reports, this one closes with questions, rather than recommendations in order to generate statewide conversations and deepen understanding. Link here to read the report.
CONGRATULATIONS TO KALI ADAMS
Link here to homeschooled student Kali Adams’ Dorothy Thompson: Finding the Truth. This website, created by Miss Adams, won the Deborah Pickman Clifford Vermont Women’s History prize at this year’s Vermont History Day. The prize, awarded through VCW's Education and Research Foundation, goes to the best project related to Vermont women in history at this annual event sponsored by the Vermont Historical Society. Miss Adam's thesis statement begins: "Journalist Dorothy Thompson wasn't afraid to write words she believed in. She was called the "First Lady of American Journalism" and the second most influential woman in America..." Dorothy Thompson: Finding the Truth also placed first in the senior individual website category and qualified for the National History Day competition.
In late April, the Vermont Commission on Women in collaboration with Norwich University’s Career and Internship Center presented American Association of University Women’s Start Smart salary negotiation workshop to students. The Start Smart Facilitator was Lindsey Lathrop-Ryan of Change The Story Vermont. Student participant seating is limited. Learn more about the Start Smart program here. This program was made possible by a grant from the New England Women's Policy Initiative through the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studeies at University of Massachusetts, Boston.
This day-long conference on Friday, April 15th was hosted by Vermont Law School's Women's Law Group, Law Students for Reproductive Justice and the Vermont Commission on Women. Sex, Race & Empowerment in the 21st Century offered an opportunity for participants to understand the impact of violence and the importance of providing legal and advocacy services to all survivors; and the importance of ensuring women's access to affordable and safe reproductive healthcare. Presenters included Cary Brown of the VCW, students and professors from VLS, staff from the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, The Pride Center of Vermont, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and many others!
WOMEN OF THE LONG TRAIL: OUR 2016 WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH EVENT
Another standing room only women’s history month event, this time at the Green Mountain Club! The pairing of Reidun Nuquist’s archival photos and stories brought to life the lives of women who hiked, built and now maintain the Long Trail. Very special thanks Vermont Historical Society, our history month event collaborative partner for many years, and to Vermont Public Radio, for offering a corresponding themed commentary series for history month for many years - links to the history month commentaries:
Photo: From September 1927. Taken by Will D. Chandler of St. Albans. 3 Musketeers Hikers: Catherine Robbins, Hilda M. Kurth, and Kathleen Norris. Courtesy: VHS.
Kathleen Norris, Catherine Robbins and Hilda M. Kurth, also known as “The Three Musketeers” were the first women to hike the Long Trail end-to-end in 1927. They became a national sensation and the most famous of many who have completed the country’s oldest long-distance footpath. "Women of the Long Trail" was FREE thanks to co-sponsors Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Denis, Ricker & Brown, and Vermont Mutual Insurance, and made extra special by a donation of ice cream from Ben and Jerry's. Read more about this event:
…from Vermont Historical Society
…from Green Mountain Club
…from Vermont Commission on Women
…from Seven Days
Change the Story Issues New Report: Women Work and Wages in Vermont
Change The Story VT (CTS), a multi-year initiative fueled by the Vermont Women’s Fund, the Vermont Commission on Women, and Vermont Works for Women, has released the first of a series of briefs called “Women, Work and Wages in Vermont”. Much of this data is not regularly collected or published. All of it is specific to Vermont, and all is critical - not just in what it reflects about women, but in its implications for Vermont’s economic future.
“The objective of Change The Story is to move the needle of women’s economic security - faster. This initial compilation of information focuses on demographic data and represents months of diving deep into state and national data, reports, and other ancillary resources to create an accurate snapshot of the state of women in Vermont when it comes to work and wages,” shared Tiffany Bluemle, Director of CTS.
Today Cary Brown, Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women and Bluemle presented the brief’s findings to members of the Vermont State Legislature. Among the brief’s highlights:
- Women are significantly more likely than men to live in poverty or economic insecurity – in large part because of the disproportionate rates at which they have primary responsibility for the care of minor children.
- 43% of VT women who work full-time do not make enough to cover basic living expenses as defined by VT’s Joint Fiscal Office.
“This brief and the overall CTS initiative is a prime example of how organizations can come together to leverage their impact in the state, as well as build a data-driven case for this important work,” shared Brown.
Additional findings include:
- The poverty rate for families headed by single women is 37.5% - nine times the poverty rate of married couples.
- Women who work full-time are disproportionately employed in low-wage jobs - across every age group, at every level of education.
- VT women are especially vulnerable in their senior years, when their median annual income from Social Security ($10,000) is half that of men ($20,000).
A copy of the report is available at www.changethestoryvt.org.
VCW staff enjoyed participating as a resource fair presenter at this exciting second annual event. The Symposium was presented by the College's Women's Empowerment Initiative, which aims to cultivate confidence and courage by fostering the achievements of women. It strives to empower current and future leaders, and to provide learning, networking, and recognition opportunities for students, staff and faculty. Keynote speaker was Moni Basu, CNN Senior Reporter, preceded by an inspiring panel discussion and breakout sessions with Vermont women leaders, Rachael Arnold, Kate Wiliams, Rep. Diana Gonzalez, Christine Hallquist, and Linda Tarr-Whelan. Learn more here.
PODCAST: Open Mike Show
Click here for the podcast of OPEN MIKE, WDEV AM/FM's public affairs program featuring VCW's Executive Director, Cary Brown and Change the Story VT Director Tiffany Bluemle explaining what this project means for Vermont women and girls!
WCAX'S the :30: Salary Negotiation
Click to view Women, Work and Unequal Wages in Vermont with VCW's Cary Brown addressing salary negotiation and Change the Story's Women, Work and Wages report (below) on WCAX/Ch. 3’s The :30. February 9th.
WOMEN, POVERTY & JUSTICE: ADDRESSING HOMELESSNESS AND PROMOTING FINANCIAL SECURITY FOR WOMEN IN VERMONT
Monday, March 7th, 8-9:30 AM, Main Street Landing, on the Burlington Waterfront
With Featured Speakers:
Jan Demers, Executive Director, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity
Kirby Dunn, Executive Director, HomeShare Vermont
Rita Markley, Executive Director, Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS)
Karen Richards, Executive Director, Vermont Human Rights Commission
Main Street Landing
Vermont Commission on Women
In Partnership with:
Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity, Change the Story VT, Committee on Temporary Shelter (COTS), Hunger Free Vermont, Main Street Alliance, Mercy Connections, Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, Vermont Legal Aid, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Vermont Women’s Fund, Vermont Works for Women, Vermont Human Rights Commission, and Voices for Vermont’s Children.
Link here for more info.
Vermont Law School Students Participate in Cheryl Hanna Legal Rights of Women Internship
Prof. Cheryl Hanna addresses media outside Burlington's federal building, re: landmark Equal Pay case
We’ve welcomed two Vermont Law School students as interns to assist with updating our handbook, “The Legal Rights of Women in Vermont,” during a summer internship program in the late Professor Cheryl Hanna’s memory. As part of the internship, VLS students Maeve Callaghan ’16 and Arden Florian ’16 will write, research state and federal statutes, and work with experts in the field to update the handbook with recently passed laws. Hanna, who passed away in July 2014, worked with VLS students to update this publication in 2011. We’ve named the internship after her in tribute. Read more here. Take a look at the Legal Rights of Women in Vermont handbook here.
We recently updated our Staff page to include a bit about our former student interns and what they are up to now.
VCW at Rutland High School
VCW Commissioner/high school social studies teacher Jennie Gartner (in red, standing) kicks off discussions with civics students
VCW's November meeting took place at Rutland high school on the 12th. Our business meeting was followed by Commissioner-facilitated discussions on youth topics of interest related to our public policy issue areas. Subjects covered included driving age, voting, readiness for college, opportunities for leadership in school and community, sports, health and relationships.
Vermont Women in Higher Education's 2014 Leadership Conference: Creating Opportunity for Women
Cary Brown, executive director of VCW delivered the keynote address at this annual conference for higher education professionals from across the state, as well as business leaders and women working in non-profit and related fields. More info here.
Washington County Community Conversation on Early Childhood and the Future of Vermont
This well attended event took place in the Pavilion Auditorium in Montpelier October 28th and featured a sneak peek of PBS’s new The Raising of America documentary and a panel discussion moderated by VCW's Executive Director, Cary Brown. More info here.
Dr. Beth Ann Maier, MD
Tina Grant, Program Director, The Children's Early Learning Space
Beth Rusnock, President, National Life Group Charitable Foundation
Sarah White, Parent
Multiple discussions just like this around the state were sponsored by Let's Grow Kids and these organizations and government agencies:
Building Bright Futures
Parent Child Center Network
Vermont Early Childhood Alliance
Vermont Children's Trust Foundation
Vermont Birth to Three
Vermont Department of Health
Vermont Department of Health, Maternal & Child Health Division
Vermont Department of Mental Health
Vermont Agency of Education
Vermont Commission on Women
Vermont Community Foundation + Project Success
Head Start Association of Vermont
Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility
American Academy of Pediatrics – VT
Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children
Fletcher Allen Health Care
Community College of Vermont
The Commission visited the Springfield Community College campus on Wednesday June 11th 2014 for a roundtable discussion on women in higher education.
The recent New England Women’s Policy Conference, spearheaded by the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass Boston was held November 7th. It was a power-packed day of learning, networking and celebrating state and regional action in four issue areas promoting women’s economic security: wages and income security; health and family leave policies; childcare; and elder care. Stay tuned for 2016's event, and save the date for November 18th!
VCW's Cary Brown (pictured on stage above) addressed the 400 event participants - women leaders from the New England states. Read materials and watch for a video capturing highlights of the day here. Read "Call to Action: A Policy Framework for Women’s Economic Security" providing a unifying framework for policy change across the region in five key areas and catalyzes further action. Read this document here. (PDF, 1839 KB)
Women Can Do!
Women Can Do! an annual statewide conference for girls promoting STEM and trades careers presented by Vermont Works for Women
Vermont Technical College, Randolph Center
Thursday, October 16th from 8:45-2:45
VCW staff, Commissioners and Advisors assist with this day one-day immersion experience for hundreds of 9-12th grade girls every year. Hands-on workshops led mostly by women professionals allow participants to extract DNA from cells, wield a chainsaw, design a 3D model and much more. Info here.
STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Equity Pipeline
VCW’s Executive Director, Cary Brown is part of the Vermont STEM Equity Pipeline State Leadership Team. The purpose of the project is to develop strategies to increase female student participation and completion in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) related programs offered in the regional career technical education (CTE) centers through root cause analysis, action planning and professional development.
Taking Your Place at the Table, Springfield
VCW joined with Community College of Vermont in June for aTaking Your Place at the Table leadership roundtable discussion about women in higher education.
Women's History Month
In recognition of Women's History Month, Vermont Commission on Women is very fortunate to collaborate with Vermont Public Radio and the Vermont Historical Society’s Vermont Women’s History Project to present a week-long commentary series for many years. This year the theme was the value of women’s history. The line-up of commentators featured many of the panelists (*) from our lunch time discussion on March 11th. Link to listen or read:
The First Woman by Cary Brown (VCW's executive director)
Very special thanks to VPR producer Betty Smith-Mastaler and to Cyndy Bittinger for making this series possible. Listen to past commentary series (back to 2007) by linking to VCW’s Leadership and Public Life page here.
2015 History Month Resolution
Read H.C.R.92, the House concurrent resolution designating March as Women’s History Month in Vermont.
Annual History Month Event: Do We Still Need Women's History?
Thank you to all who attended March 11th’s Women’s History Month event - a brownbag lunch panel titled: “Do We Still Need Women's History?” The packed crowd followed up the presentations with some great questions and stories. Moderated by Cary Brown, executive director of the Vermont Commission on Women, panelists included Dr. Felicia Kornbluh, Director of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at the University of Vermont (and a VCW Commissioner!), Dr. Marilyn Blackwell, independent historian, and Holly Allen, Assistant Professor of American Studies at Middlebury College. As always our thanks to wonderful staff and director of the Vermont Historical Society, our partners for these events every year. We also thank sponsors Clute Wealth Management, Key Bank, Northfield Savings Bank, and co-sponsor from the Cabot Creamery Cooperative.
VCW Commissioner at History Day
VCW Commissioner Ruth Finn of Barre again took part judging at Vermont History Day on March 28th at U-32 High School in East Montpelier. Students in grades 5-12 and home study students ages 10-18 are eligible to present at at this event. Students conduct primary source research and express what they have learned through creative and original dramatic performances, documentaries, research papers, websites, or three-dimensional exhibits. Students meet with judges and receive feedback about their projects. Ruth awarded the Deborah Pickman Clifford Vermont Women’s History Prize. This prize goes to an outstanding entry focused on a specific Vermont woman who made an important contribution to the state, or on the role women played during a particular time in Vermont’s history. The Prize is in special recognition of the scholarship, dedication and enthusiasm of the late Deborah Pickman Clifford, prominent Vermont historian and author specializing in women's history. Congratulations to the recipient of the Deborah Pickman Clifford Award,Lilianna Ziedins of Crossett Brook middle school. The title of her documentary was Politics Through the Eyes of a Legendary Woman: Madeleine Kunin. Teacher Lori Morse worked with Miss. Ziedins. Read more about Vermont History Day here.
Explore Past Vermont Public Radio Women's History Month Commentary Series
In recognition of Women's History Month, Vermont Commission on Women is very fortunate to collaborate with Vermont Public Radio and the Historical Society's Vermont Women's History Project to present a series of stories about Vermont women.
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.
Bennington Area Listening Forum for Girls Issues
VCW 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)
Women's Economic Opportunity Conference
Senator Leahy's annual free and fabulous conference for Vermont women takes place every fall and is currently in it's 18th year. The Women's Economic Opportunity Conference enjoys a long tradition of bringing women together from all corners of Vermont to explore career opportunities, sharpen business skills and expand professional networks. The conference draws hundreds of women for a full day of workshops tailored to meet a range of talents and skill levels. In the interest of making the conference accessible to all, there is no charge for registration or for pre-arranged child care. VCW assists with event coordination. More info here.
Celebrating Women's Equality Day 2015
August 26, 2015, marks the 95th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution - an important milestone in women's equality. The significance of this victory cannot be understated, as the movement for women's suffrage was a nonviolent and long-lasting civil rights effort. Despite harassment and sometimes violent attacks, the suffragists remained committed to nonviolence and to their right to vote.
Today, women have the right to vote, yet they still face many issues that stand between themselves and their right to good health and to care for their children. Policymakers, business owners and advocates gathered at a press conference in Burlington to mark this anniversary, and celebrate both progress for women in our state and milestones yet to be won. VCW Executive Director, Cary Brown (pictured below) opened the event and served as emcee, explaining the significance of Women’s Equality Day and providing context for how paid sick days plays a role in women’s economic security.
Link here for press coverage from the event, featuring speakers: Governor Shumlin, House Speaker Smith, Senator Baruth, host of the event, Eric Warnstedt, Chef Owner, Hen of the Wood, and Stephanie Hainley, Chief Operating Officer, White + Burke Real Estate Investment Advisors.
VCW's Listing of Education Loans and Grants
Creating Positive and Effective Programs for Girls
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.
The Vermont Women's History Project
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. VCW serves on the Project's steering committee.
VCW Executive Director served on a panel of women in leadership roles at the 2014 American Legion Auxiliary Green Mountain Girls State gathering this year. For a whole week the young women are actively engaged in “doing” government. The two-party political system is brought to life through setting up and administering city, county and state governments. From campaigning, party rallies, and debating to mock legislative sessions and parliamentary procedures the girls are immersed in experiential learning. The result? Many participants choose a career path involving politics or community service. And all leave with knowledge about their responsibilities as U.S. citizens and memories that will last a lifetime. More info here.
Vermont Women's Business Center
VCW served on the Vermont Women's Business Center Advisory Board since its inception in 2002. The center was a partnership project of Capstone and the US Small Business Administration, and assisted more than 6,000 Vermont women starting up and/or growing their businesses with business counseling, training, access to financing, and support.
Vermont Woman Editorial Advisory Board
VCW Executive Director Cary Brown sits on Vermont Woman’s Editorial Advisory Board. Vermont Woman is a bi-monthly newspaper that serves as a forum for news, issues, features, arts and entertainment from the perspective, experience, and voices of women in our state.
VCW's Report: The Status of Women and Girls in Vermont
NEW: Women in Leadership and Public Life 2015 (PDF file, 412 KB)
2013 Women in Public Life (PDF file, 856 KB)
2011 Women in Public Life Report (PDF file, 274 KB)
2009 Status Report (PDF file, 735 KB)
2008 Status Report (PDF file, 384 KB)
2007 Status Report (PDF file, 417 KB)
2006 Status Report (PDF file, 701 KB)
2005 Status Report (PDF file, 335 KB)
Listen, Talk, and Keep Talking
Listen, Talk and Keep Talking (PDF file, 243 KB)
"What Teen Girls Say": A Statewide Survey of Vermont Girls
The Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains and the Vermont Commission on Women worked together to conduct and present these annual Statewide Surveys of Girls. “What Vermont Teen Girls Say” theme and survey questions were created by a panel of girls. That panel presented survey results to legislators at the Vermont State House every spring. “What Teen Girls Say” survey results captured the attention of Vermont legislators, community officials, schools, and the media.
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!
Working in coalition with powerful partners Vermont Women’s Fund and Vermont Works for Women, we launched Change the Story Vermont, a multi-year initiative engaging business, government and education to improve women’s economic well-being and ensure Vermont’s economic future. Check it out on the web and Facebook too.
VCW's Listing of Education Loans and Grants
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. Written in plain language, the handbook, although written for women, 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 include information on human trafficking, health insurance, same sex marriage, and immigration. The new edition allows users to link directly to the Vermont Commission on Women’s comprehensive resource directory and to federal and state statute websites. The result is reader-friendly content with easy-access reference links.
Read VCW's agency brochure
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Learn about (and plan) conferences, meetings and workshops for women and girls by using our event calendar tool:
Easy to use, easy to add events to, and super mobile-friendly, this new calendar feature is an extension of VCW’s efforts to facilitate collaboration between Vermont organizations doing work with women and girls, and to increase public awareness and participation of these activities.
Looking for help? Try our Resource Directory with over 200 pages of organizations/agencies to assist you.