November 2016 AAUW President’s Letter by Sara Staab

I toured the Driehaus Museum in Chicago on October 8.  I enjoyed seeing a mansion from the Gilded Age, known at the time as “the marble palace.”  It is a beautiful, amazing place that was built after the great fire destroyed the city. There was a special exhibit in the museum of cartoons from a magazine called “Puck.”  It included some drawings related to Chicago’s 1893 World’s Fair and some related to “Women of Influence: Chicago’s Leading Ladies.”  The World’s Fair had a Woman’s Building designed by Boston architect Sophia Hayden.  The building was devoted to exhibits of women’s work and progress in arts and sciences.  The board of the building was chaired by socialite Bertha Palmer and included “female lawyers, doctors, farmers, social workers, and others.” They “met to discuss plans for improving pay and job opportunities for women.”

Another part of the exhibit at the Driehaus had photographs of influential Chicago women who were involved with the Woman’s World’s Fair in 1925.  According to the exhibit, the fair introduced “the emancipated woman to new and innovative career opportunities” – over 100 occupations were represented.  Some editorials at the time worried about feminist aspects of the organization and “hoped the women would not release their ‘hold on the home’.”  Fair chairman Louise de Koven Bowen replied that “women possess, as well as men, the energy, industry, and talent which… will fit them to rank with men in industry and the arts.”
So, we in AAUW continue the work of our female predecessors in Chicago…  Go to our national website ( to learn about the 2016 update to AAUW’s research report “The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap.”

I’m looking forward to seeing you at our November dinner meeting.  Bring items for the Silent Auction for the AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund. And bring your checkbook, too!

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