The director of West Virginia Universitys Center for Womens Studies and a prominent Greenbrier County businesswoman will lead a newly formed statewide advisory committee that will research the status of West Virginia women and compare them to peers nationally.

Barbara Howe, director of the WVU center, and Joan Browning, a lecturer and writer from Greenbrier County, will co-chair the West Virginia Advisory Committee to the Status of Women in West Virginia Projectan initiative begun in 1995 by the Institute for Womens Policy Research to gather information on womens economic, social and political rights.

“The advisory committee will help identify issues affecting West Virginia women and locate sources of research data,”Dr. Howe said.

In particular, she said, the report will document how West Virginia women rank in five major areas: political participation, employment and earnings, economic autonomy, reproductive rights and health and well-being.

“It also will specifically document where and how much West Virginia stacks up with other states in providing services in the areas of interest to women,”Browning said.”This includes areas such as reproductive rights, domestic violence legislation, environmental health risks, child support, womens political participation and womens economic status.”

The advisory committee also will gather data on these other issues especially relevant to state women:

  • Domestic violence information from the West Virginia Supreme Court of AppealsFatality Review Committee, the West Virginia Coalition against Domestic Violence and womens shelters
  • West Virginia laws affecting women including business tax information and how the West Virginia Development Office and Small Business Administration serves women entrepreneurs
  • Geographical constraints on access to state services
  • Women in prison
  • Anti-terrorism legislation affecting womens rights
  • Welfare reform
  • Services provided to women by faith-based organizations
    p. “We want to make sure that the report will not merely sit on library shelves,”Howe said.”The Status of Women in West Virginia report will have far-reaching implications for government and private state agenciesprograms that affect the women of West Virginia.”

The committee will also try to raise money to put a copy of the report in the hands of every government official and legislator, she said.”We plan to distribute this to all public and university libraries and to all the state private organizations.”

For more information, or to make suggestions, contact West Virginia Advisory Committee co-chairs: Dr. Barbara J. Howe, director of the WVU Center for Womens Studies, WVU , P.O. Box 6490, Morgantown, WV, 26506-6450, 304-293-2339, ext. 1155,email, ;or Joan C. Browning, Papilion Lane Press, P.O. Box 436, Ronceverte, WV 24970 -0436, email

Statewide members of the Status of Women Advisory Committee include:

  • Mildred Bright, retired Morgantown businesswoman;
  • Bettijane Burger, Charleston area high school teacher;
  • Susan Burt, teacher, Pocahontas Countys High Rocks Academy;
  • Charlene Byrd, National Center for Human Relations Institute, Institute;
  • Phyllis Carter, West Virginia Human Rights Commission, Charleston;
  • Dinah Courier, WVU -Potomac State, Keyser;
  • Chris Hedges, attorney, Spencer;
  • Judy Higgs, WVU at Parkersburg;
  • Sue Julian, West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Charleston;
  • Susan Landis, Beckley Area Foundation, Beckley;
  • Jane Moran, attorney, Williamson;
  • Diane Reece, West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Charleston;
  • Judith Seaman, teacher, Elkins;
  • Clare Sulgit, Wellsburg United Methodist Church, Wellsburg;
  • Linda Tate, Shepherd College, Shepherdstown; and Debra Weinstein, Young Womens Christian Association, Charleston.