We are pleased to announce two Executive Board-approved steps toward a more inclusive membership beginning in 2020: a more equitable and affordable dues structure; and a demographic data update that will help us gauge the impact of Association-wide diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion efforts.
First, the dues changes, which the Board is convinced help make the dues structure more equitable and create an affordable avenue to AAA membership. You may be aware that AAA changed its dues structure in 2007 from a flat fee model to a model based on “ability to pay.” Member dues are now based on self-reported income ranges for most members. After 10 years of implementing our income-based dues model, and in response to questions about how we might make dues more affordable, in 2017 AAA decided to review the structure to determine whether updates are needed. AAA retained the consulting firm, Avenue M, to help conduct the review. Once the consultant’s work was completed, AAA convened a work group to review the consultant’s recommendations. Section leadership and other key stakeholder groups were consulted extensively in 2018–19, resulting in a number of improvements that provide lower rates for those less able to afford higher dues, and offer discounts for longer term membership.
These changes preserve the fairness principle based on “ability to pay” while lowering the barrier to join and renew their memberships for those with the fewest personal resources.
For AAA dues, salary tiers have been revised to create a lower tier of $49 per year for those members who are unemployed or marginally employed (income of $10,000 or less). In addition, AAA will offer a five percent discount to retired members. We are also offering a five percent per year discount to AAA and section dues for purchasing a two-year membership. At some point in the near future, we will offer members the convenience of automatic renewals as well.
We have standardized membership categories for AAA and all sections (with the exception of the Section Sustaining member category, which will remain as an option for sections). Sections will continue to determine their own rates for their section categories.
We have eliminated the “joint” member category, which was an artifact of an earlier era when publications were widely distributed in print, and households with two members at the same address did not wish to receive two print copies. We have also discontinued the offer of new Lifetime memberships, while honoring those who have already purchased Lifetime memberships. Information about the new dues rates and section dues can be found on the AAA website.
A second change the Board approved involves the request for certain demographic data about our members and contributors to our publications that will help us better gauge our improvements in equity and inclusion on behalf of the discipline. Beginning in 2020, AAA is going to require that when people join or renew their membership, and when they submit articles for peer review, they respond to a request for a bit of information about themselves, specifically how they identify themselves with respect to gender and race/ethnicity. One of the possible responses will be “prefer not to answer,” but some sort of response will now be expected. At the moment, we do not know with any certainty about the composition of our membership, the backgrounds and identities of people submitting manuscripts for publication in our journals and proposals for the Annual Meeting, applying for fellowships and awards, and so forth. Without this information, we have no way of holding ourselves accountable for being an equitable, inclusive association.
We have been working with the Members Programmatic Advisory and Advocacy Committee on the specific wording of this request, as well as reviewing how sister societies obtain this information. We recognize the disadvantages of these category labels, and we also recognize that we still have much ground to cover to live up to our high expectations for an inclusive, equitable, and accessible association. We will only know that we are gaining on our expectations if we have some specific ways of holding ourselves accountable. I hope you will join me in embracing this organizational challenge.
Cite as: Liebow, Ed. 2019. “Two Steps toward a More Inclusive Membership.” Anthropology News website, October 22, 2019. DOI: 10.1111/AN.1292