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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: Andrus Center

How an attempt to kill the Civil Rights Act ended up changing history, revolutionizing American workplaces…

As the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act this year, EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic, who spoke in Boise yesterday at the Andrus Center Conference on Women and Leadership, noted a bit of the act’s history that’s largely overlooked today – but that transformed American workplaces.

The act, as originally proposed by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and then by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, was all about race. Congress had passed the Equal Pay Act a year earlier, and many felt they’d dealt with gender discrimination by doing that and needed take no further action in that area. “No one was contemplating that there would be a provision added into the law that would protect women from discrimination in the workplace,” Lipnic said. Then, as the bill worked its way through Congress, a Democratic congressman from Virginia, Howard Smith, who was an avowed segregationist, added the amendment to the law. “There was no legislative history, no committee reports, nothing. This was on the floor of the House,” Lipnic said.

Smith’s move was widely viewed as an attempt at a “poison pill” – a provision so onerous that it would cause the whole bill to fail; he later voted against the bill. But of the 12 women then serving in the House, 11 “rose up to support it,” Lipnic said. “That sisterhood in the House of Representatives then carried the debate.” It passed, 168-133.

When the bill moved on to the Senate, prominent GOP Sen. Everett Dirksen planned to propose an amendment to strip out the sex-discrimination provision. Only two women then served in the Senate; one was Republican Margaret Chase Smith from Maine. She went to a meeting of the Republican caucus, and, the only woman in the room, made such a powerful case that Dirksen decided not to introduce his amendment.

“When that provision was added in to the civil rights bill, it transformed the Civil Rights Act to not leave out half of the population, and it revolutionized the workplace,” Lipnic said. “This conference would not be happening today but for the actions of those women in 1964.”

EEOC commissioner: Nation still plagued by huge number of workplace sexual harassment cases

Victoria Lipnic, commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – and a former assistant secretary of labor – said she was stunned when she arrived at the EEOC in 2010 and saw the huge number of sexual harassment complaints. That’s true still in every region of the nation, she said.

“If we wanted to, we could have a docket of nothing but sexual harassment cases,” she told the Andrus Center Conference on Women and Leadership today. “I look at some of the facts of these cases, and I think to myself, what do women have to do to be able to just go to work and do their jobs and not have to put up with some of this behavior?”

She told the largely female audience of more than 800, “You don’t have to put up with this. And so when you find yourself in situations that are either harassing, borderline assaulting, some very real assaulting, or even just really boorish behavior, you do have an outlet, and you should complain about it – and don’t be afraid to complain about it. Because unless and until more women do that, we really are sort of scratching our heads at the EEOC about what we can do.”

Adm. Howard to Idaho women: ‘When it’s right to push back, push back’

In her talk, “Pioneering Success,” at the Andrus Center Conference on Women and Leadership today, Admiral Michelle Howard, the vice-chief of operations for the Navy and a four-star admiral, used the stories of pioneering women – from Sacagawea to Barbara Morgan and many more – to offer advice about how women who are pioneers in their field can forge success. She drew on the stories of women who joined wagon trains and traveled west, and distilled her advice to this: “Commit to the journey, travel light, develop stamina, keep a sense of humor, and stay connected to other women.”

Said Howard, “If you’re in an occupation where there’s less than 25 percent women, you’re a pioneer.” Engineering is a perfect example, she said.

Answering questions from the large audience after her talk, Howard was asked if she had a goal of becoming an admiral. “When I started at Annapolis, women weren’t even serving on ships,” she said. Yet she decided she’d like to command one – knowing it was a long-term goal. In 1999, she became the first African American woman to command a ship in the U.S. Navy.

Howard said the first person to tell her she couldn’t do something because she was a woman was her brother, when at age 12 she declared that she wanted to go to the service academy – but by law, women weren’t allowed. She consulted her mother, who said if she still wanted to go when she was older, she should apply – and if necessary, they’d sue the government. “She goes, ‘Honey, the most important thing in life is trying for what you think is right.’” And solutions could take time, she warned. “You could apply, you could sue the government and you may never get to go but you should keep going after it. … And it doesn’t matter if you never get to go, because if you’re right, the law will change and some women will get to go.”

Howard said she had to deal with “knuckleheads” from time to time in her career. She advised: “Have the courage on your own behalf that when it’s right to push back, push back.”

Female 4-star admiral to Idaho women: ‘Join the military, because we get equal pay’

Idaho women shouldn’t despair over their state’s poor rankings for representation of women in top leadership positions, or for women’s pay vs. men’s, Admiral Michelle Howard, vice-chief of operations for the U.S. Navy and a four-star admiral, said after wowing a big crowd at the Andrus Center Conference on Women and Leadership today. “They will make the change,” Howard predicted. Just last week, Idaho was ranked 45th for women’s pay compared to men, with Idaho women earning 73.5 percent of what their male counterparts earn. Howard, who infused her talk at the conference with humor, had a response to that, too: “Join the military – because we get equal pay.”

Howard, the second-highest official in the U.S. Navy, both the first woman and the first African-American to achieve her four-star rank, and the first African American woman to command a Navy ship – she took command in 1999 – said of all the important things on her plate, talking to women about leadership ranks as “extremely important.” While in Idaho, she’ll also visit the Wyakin Warrior Foundation’s center for injured veterans, and will join Gov. Butch Otter at the state’s official Sept. 11 remembrance ceremony.

Howard was in the Pentagon during the Sept. 11 attacks. “We were on the far side of the building from where the plane hit,” she said. She and other top officials of the joint chiefs were meeting, and watched the New York attacks on television. After the second plane hit, “We really went into overdrive,” she said, clear that “this is not an accident, this is deliberate,” and beginning to organize and mobilize top military resources. “We were getting ready to finish up that meeting when we felt a shudder,” she recalled. Another officer said, “I don’t think that was yellow gear,” referring to the big trucks that rumble in and out of the Pentagon complex. “Pretty quickly we realized we had been hit. We started to lock up all our classified materials, and then the order came to evacuate.”

She and other top brass grabbed bottles of water and headed outside; the Pentagon does so many fire drills that things ran very smoothly, she said. Then someone suggested that the hit might have been the first of many attacks, and everyone began moving down by the river, away from the building. “We could see the smoke,” she said. “I was frustrated and angry. I had trained my whole life, by golly, if I was ever attacked … we’re going to shoot back.” But the 8,000 people evacuated couldn’t all rush over and help; most had to evacuate and go home. “That’s not what I trained for,” she said.

Among her biggest frustrations: Trying to get word to her husband, Wayne, that she was OK. A hunting guide, he was off in the wilds in Wyoming. “He doesn’t even know this is happening,” she said. He ended up getting word the next morning – both that the Pentagon had been attacked, and that his wife was OK.

Big-name women - including four-star admiral - head to Boise for Andrus Center conference

A four-star admiral who is the second-highest official in the U.S. Navy – and also is both the first woman and the first African-American to achieve that four-star rank – is among the headliners at the Andrus Conference on Women and Leadership, which kicks off tomorrow at Boise State University. Adm. Michelle Howard, vice chief of Naval operations, will give the luncheon keynote speech at the conference, which starts at noon in the Jordan Ballroom.

Conference organizers said “a bit of finesse” was required to accomplish the admiral’s visit, as either the chief or vice chief must be present in Washington, D.C. at all times; and the visit includes the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The conference runs through Friday at noon, and also will feature astronauts Ellen Ochoa and Barbara Morgan; 124th Fighter Wing Col. Sherrie McCandless; U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner Victoria Lipnic; retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who also addressed the first such conference last year; and Academy Award-winning producer Freida Mock, who will air her film about Anita Hill, “Anita: Speaking Truth to Power,” at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. An array of other female business, political, arts and academic leaders also are scheduled to speak, including Carla Harris, managing partner and vice chair of Morgan Stanley; author Judith Freeman; and Bonnie McElveen Hunter, former U.S. ambassador to Finland and current chair of the American Red Cross. The full agenda is online here.

The conference’s theme this year is “What is Success?” It’s a project of the Andrus Center for Public Policy, which is affiliated with the Boise State University College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs. “It’s a conversation among women on what is success and how to achieve it,” said David Adler, Andrus Center director. Between 800 and 1,000 people are expected to attend. “It’s a wide audience,” Adler said. “It includes university students, working women, people in the corporate world. … Women dominate the audience, but it’s not just for women.”

He quoted Warren Buffet, saying that the nation’s done pretty well using only 50 percent of its population in leadership – and much more could be accomplished if the other 50 percent also were tapped. Women are under-represented in top leadership roles in Idaho, Adler said, from political office to the corporate world. “We lag behind when it comes to women holding key positions in leadership,” he said. “We can do something about it.” There’s more info on the conference here.

Andrus Center to host Conference on Women and Leadership

The Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University will present a Conference on Women and Leadership Sept. 10-12 featuring an array of prominent speakers, from retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to four-star Admiral Michelle Howard, vice chair of operations for the U.S. Navy,  to Dr. Ellen Ochoa, director of the Johnson Space Center, to award-winning film producer Frieda Mock.  

The two and a half day conference at the BSU Student Union building is designed to motivate and educate women on leadership and success. Click below for more information.

Andrus Center conference to draw array of women leaders to Boise

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, novelist Alexandra Fuller, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, PBS News Hour commentator and reporter Anne Taylor Fleming, Amazon Vice President Teresa Carlson, New York Times sports reporter Karen Crouse, Longaberger Co. CEO Tami Longaberger, former ambassador to Finland Bonnie McElveen-Hunter and more are headed to Boise in September for an Andrus Center conference Sept. 4-6 entitled “Transforming America: Women and Leadership in the 21st Century.”

The conference will take place at Boise State University, where the Andrus Center for Public Policy put tickets on sale today. “This conference will focus on accomplishments of women leaders from business, government, science, the media and other fields and gain their unique perspectives on women in leadership positions,” the center announced. It also will explore “what Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has called the opportunity for all women ‘to earn respect, responsibility, advancement and remuneration based on ability.'” O’Connor will be the keynote speaker. David Adler, Andrus Center director, said tickets are expected to sell out quickly.

Leading Civil War scholars to converge on BSU for Oct. 25 Andrus Center conference

Leading Civil War scholars from around the nation will gather at Boise State University on Oct. 25 for a day-long conference entitled, “Why The Civil War Still Matters.” The conference is sponsored y the Andrus Center for Public Policy, the Idaho Humanities Council and the Idaho Council for History Education. Advance registration is required; the $25 registration fee, which includes lunch, will be waived for any current high school or college student.

Marc Johnson, president of the Andrus Center, said the conference marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. “If you are a Civil War buff, a student of history, or just want a better understanding of how a conflict 150 years ago shaped, and continues to shape, our history, this event should be on your calendar,” Johnson said; there's more info here.

Kustra: Adler’s move to BSU fits university’s public affairs mission

David Adler, a longtime political science professor and constitutional scholar at Idaho State University who for the past two years has served as director of the University of Idaho's James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research, has been named the new director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University – completing an arc across of all three of the state's universities.

“With our designation by the State Board of Education as Idaho’s public affairs university, Dr. Adler’s appointment allows us to realize the full extent of our public affairs mission,” said Boise State President Bob Kustra. “It not only recognizes the contributions Cecil Andrus has made to his state and nation, but it also allows us to carry out our public affairs mandate with the leadership of such a distinguished teacher, author, lecturer and administrator as Dr. Adler.”

The Andrus Center, founded by former four-term Idaho governor and U.S. Interior secretary Cecil Andrus, has focused since 1995 on providing a forum for non-partisan policy discussions on major issues in Idaho and the West. With Adler's appointment, the center will expand its programming to include the Constitution, civic engagement and education, political civility and the American presidency.

The UI has temporarily named Marty Peterson, the just-retired special assistant to the president and the university's former chief lobbyist, as interim head of the McClure Center; you can read my full Sunday column here at, which also includes a look at how North Idaho GOP legislative candidates answered the state party's platform survey.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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