Thirteen local women have been elected to the Maryland delegation to the National Women's Conference Nov. 18-21 in Houston, where they will vote on recommendations to President Carter on means to end discrimination against women.
The 26-member Maryland delegation will include Claire Bigelow, University Park; Cleopatra Campbell, Frederick; Lorraine Cecil, Hyattsville; Elvira Crocker, Chevy Chase; Ann Dentre, Arnold; Barbara Gordon, Bethesda; Gloria Johnson, Camp Springs; Del. Pauline Menes, D-College Park; Kerstin Powell, Annapolis; Hedda Sachs, Bowie; Bernice Sandler, Silver Spring; Lorri Simmons, Kensington; and Emily Taylor, Chevy Chase.
The delegates were selected at a recent conference in Baltimore of approximately 800 women who also adopted a lengthy set of recommendations for legislative action. Among other things, they called for a law prohibiting sex discrimination by members of Congress and stiff penalties against supervisors who discriminate against women.
Because of recent complaints that women Congressional employees are not treated fairly, the conference's employment caucus recommended that the federal Civil Rights Act be amended so that it prohibits sex discrimination in the legislative branch. Title VII of that law now prohibits such discrimination by private employers and the executive branch, but not by Congress.
Daisy Fields, an alternate delegate to the Houston convention and chairwoman of the employment caucus in Baltimore, said delegates felt that Congressional employees "have no protection whatsoever," adding that legistors "pay the women much less than men for work of equal value."
Delegates also urged that the federal Equal Employment Opportunities Act be strengthened with the addition of penalties on management officials who consciously engage in sex discrimination. Employers who discriminate must compensate employees for discrimination under the present law, but there are no penalties.
"There's no slap on the wrist now. We feel that it should be stronger, in that promotions should be denied to supervisors who discrimate, and that if there is other discriminatory action they be removed from their positions of authority," Fields said.
The convention also recommended passage of the Part-time Career Opportunities Act in Congress, which would require federal agencies to set aside 10 per cent of all positions for part-time workers at all levels. Maryland already has a similar law.
The most controversial issue considered at the convention appeared to be abortion. The subject came up during discussion of problems of teenage pregnancy, and after several close votes the women recommended that abortion should be available to teenagers. Tin Myaing Thien, a medical sociologist who led the health caucus, said the abortion debate was an "emotional" one during which there was little discussion of facts.
In several cases, the convention came to close votes that reflected concerns for public spending rather than women's issues. A recommendation that women over 60 be provided free education at state and community colleges passed but was opposed by delegates who felt it would increase the already high cost of education for their children. Similarly, the delegates narrowly endorsed creation of a federal office of child care, with opponents arguing that a new agency would cost too much.