Sadker Equity Awards



Congresswoman Connie Morella,
2000 Myra Sadker Equity Award Winner


Introduction to award presentation by David Sadker

I remember back in the early 1990s, when my late wife Myra, was selected as one of Washington's 100 most influential women. She came home to tell me about the exciting luncheon sponsored by Washingtonian magazine. Part of that excitement was sharing lunch and conversation with you, Connie. By the way, you share more in common with Myra than just lunch. Connie was an English professor at Montgomery College, and Myra was an English professor at Virginia State University. You have received an MA degree from American University, and Myra taught at American University. Both of you were discerning enough to marry AU professors. Like Myra and myself, you and your husband Tony raised a family in Bethesda. I must admit, however, that you outdid us in the child rearing department. We worked overtime raising two daughters; you raised three children of your own and, when your sister passed away, you raised her six as well. And to balance the stress of parenting, you acquired an unusual method of tension release: you became a member of Congress.

Connie Morella is a very unusual Congresswoman. For starters, she represents Maryland's Eighth Congressional District. I live in the Eighth Congressional District. You may not be surprised to learn that the 8th Congressional District is both liberal and Democratic. As I said, I live in the Eighth Congressional District. If you haven't yet noticed, Connie Morella is a Republican. She has been elected to represent my district seven times. The reason is simple: Connie Morella avoids putting party interests above her conscience or above the interests of her constituents.

Since first taking office, Connie has focused on many issues, some considered non-traditional for a female. Her work ranges from efforts to enhance scientific research and development to promoting international and human rights issues. She was the first woman to Chair the Arms Control and Foreign Policy Caucus, and is considered a friend of the environment. This evening, we will focus on her efforts on behalf of equal opportunities for girls and women.

Congresswoman Morella, former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues, is recognized nationally for her work on domestic violence, women's health, educational and economic equity issues. She has established herself as a leader in the fight against HIV/AIDS in women with legislation focusing on research and prevention. She represented the United States at the UN Conference on Population and Development in Cairo and co-chaired the congressional delegation to the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. Because of her efforts, she was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame. Glamour Magazine honored her as a Woman of the Year for "fighting for women's rights and winning." Last year, the New York Times recognized her as "one of a dozen who have risen to prominence" in women's health.

Congresswoman Morella has made education funding a top priority during her tenure in Congress. She has worked to preserve programs for displaced homemakers, single parents, and pregnant women, and sponsored legislation to create campus-based child care centers to enable low-income women to receive a college education.

Congresswoman Morella reintroduced the Advancement of Women in Science, Engineering and Technology Development Act, which calls for a review of career roadblocks for women, minorities, and the disabled in science and technology and to develop effective and productive policies that address their underrepresentation in these fields. In some of these efforts she has been successful; in others, the Congressional leadership of her own party thwarted her efforts.

But I must tell you, I admire not only her victories, but her efforts even in losing causes. For those of us committed to educational equity, both in and beyond Congress, these last few years have been particularly difficult. For 350 years, America's girls have been denied equal educational access. Now, after only 25 years of efforts to level the playing field, the radical right contends that we have gone too far. This position would be silly, if it were not dangerous. These rights, so recently won, can be lost as well. There are only two genders on the planet, surely that is not too much for us to handle.

This past Fall, equity advocates around the country applauded as the Congresswoman co-sponsored the Morella-Mink-Woolsey amendment to save the small but symbolic federal funds working to build gender equitable schools. The House leadership attempted to eliminate these funds. Isn't it amazing that even in these times of unparalleled economic boom, some believe that ANY money, no matter how small, invested in women's programs, is simply too much. Connie and her colleagues stood firm in support of America's school children. And this time, they won — and so did we.

Winston Churchill — no stranger to tough times — once said:



Congresswoman Morella, on this eve of yet another primary, we are so pleased that you chose to be with us. For all you have done, it is our pleasure to thank you and to honor you with The Myra Sadker Equity Award.

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