Vol.1, No. 6
Women's Advocate named
by Gay Cosgriff
Houston's new Women's Advocate, Dr. Nikki Van Hightower, sees herself as just that -- an
advocate for all the women of
Most of her energies will be
directed towards getting women
who are employed by the city
into decision-making positions,
and promoting qualified women
within their departments. "I
think if you saw the way jobs
are sex-segregated in City Hall,"
Van Hightower says, "you
would see that women are
automatically put into the lower
status, clerical kinds of jobs."
Van Hightower, formerly an
assistant professor in political
science at the University of
Houston, was appointed last
month by Mayor Fred Hofheinz
to fill the office which had been
vacant for seven months.
Since the City of Houston is
currently experiencing a hiring
freeze, she will concentrate on
the area of promotion. "I plan
to monitor an affirmative action
program for city employees,
which will include instituting
training programs and a merit
system for promotion," Van
Although the Civil Service
Department officially has authority in hiring and promotion,
ir\ practice each department
head has tremendous autonomy,
which is why Van Hightower
feels that a merit system is
essential to ensure promotion
of qualified women. There is
no female equivalent of the
"I believe that without an
outside, objective criterion for
hiring and promotion, women
are stifled in their desire to advance themselves," she says.
In the short time she has
been in office, Van Hightower
has received a number of calls
from women employed by the
city who feel that hard work
and dedication do not win them
the promotions they deserve-
rather, they are penalized for
being 'aggressive'. "Women still
are clearly stereotyped in terms
of what jobs they hold," she
Since her appointment, Van
Hightower has been spending
most of her time dealing with
the media and organizing her
office. She plans to contact
all the city department heads
and the members of the city
council and make herself known
She is apparently already
known to two or three of them.
Council member Homer Ford
stated, "I see the office of Women's Advocate as an overlapping
of services provided by others in
the affirmative action office and
'The city has been doing a
good job of hiring women,"
said Council member Louis
"A Women's Advocate is not
any more necessary than a man's
advocate," believes Council
member Frank Mancuso. "It is
a waste of taxpayers' money and
I see no need for it."
Van Hightower replied, "Men
already have advocates—they are
well represented in all the highest levels of city government.
They do not have the problem
of under-representation that
Van Hightower is emphatic
in saying that she sees herself as
being instrumental in raising the
consciousness of city officials.
"Consciousness raising with city
department heads will be part
of my job."
The office of the Women's
Advocate is part of the Affirmative Action Department, and
Van Hightower has no staff or
secretary of her own. She shares
the services of the Affirmative
Action's clerical staff and sees
DR. NIKKI VAN HIGHTOWER
no possibility of the city providing her with her own staff in
At present there is no listing
for 'Women's Advocate' in the
city directory. Van Hightower
says she will try to rectify this.
Another top priority for Van
Hightower is to develop a program of child care for city employees. This area was included
in a four-point feminist platform
Continues on page 16
Nurses organize efforts
by Janice Blue
"I cannot for the life of me,
as a politician, understand how a
profession as large as yours,
with as much know/edge and
skills, has so little political
"You have the power in
numbers . . . You are 10:1 in
number over doctors. You have
the skills and training ....
PLEASE start to use your
political muscle to help this
Daniel K. Inouye
ROZANNE THATCHER, graduate nursing student at UT-Austin
and chairperson of the statewide Save Our School (SOS) organization, addresses nursing students, faculty, and supporters in
Austin, May 14, following the
UT Regents' refusal to reconsider its March 26 decision to
abolish The University of Texas'
System School of Nursing.
98% of nurses are women.
95% of doctors are men.
Until the swift and sudden injustice abolishing the University of Texas System School of
Nursing by the Board of Re-
gents-and with the apparent
sanction of the Texas Medical
Association—the struggle for
professional dominance of doctors over nurses took place,
overtly or covertly, in hospital wings or physicians' offices.
Today, thanks to the Board
of Regents and the TMA, the
battle is out in the open. . . en
route to the courts and the legislature.
"Nurses are tired of being
acted upon rather than acting
on," said Dr. Evelyn Redding,
faculty member at UT-Houston.
"The regents may not know it
yet, but their actions have politicized nurses across the state.
After the regents failed (May
14) to reconsider a second plea
by the state-wide nursing community to reverse their March
26 decision dissolving and decentralizing the UTSSN (See
Regents Scalpel Nurses, Breakthrough, April 1976), the Texas
Nurses Association, in an histor-
14 women raped
Fourteen area women, ages
17-29, have been victims of rape
in recent months by a man who
is being referred to as the "Memorial City" or "Beer Belly"
rapist. Three of the women
were abducted from the Memorial City Shopping Center.
The rapist operates around
shopping centers and apartment
complexes. He generally tampers with a woman's car and then
renders aid when she is unable
to start it.
Detective Patricia Fawkes in
the homicide bureau of the
Houston Police Department said
the rapist then tells his intended
victims that because he stopped
to help them, he is late for an
appointment and he asks that
they drive him to his meeting.
After entering their cars, he
pulls a gun and directs them to
drive to what becomes the scene
of the rape.
The rapist generally has a
sloppy appearance, wearing his
shirt out and wearing some kind
of hat (baseball or fishing hat).
It is believed he hides a stocking
under the cap which he pulls
over his face during the attack.
Detective Fawkes advised
area women to ask security
guards for assistance with their
automobiles if they have car
trouble in shopping centers or
The rapist is believed to be in
his late 20's or early 30's, with
brown hair, of stocky build and
under six feet tall.
Houston women detectives
are working on the case around
the clock. Because of the media
attention given the case in late
May, the "Beer Belly" rapist has
been under cover since May 20.
ic act, filed suit.against the regents in 53rd district court.
"The Texas Nurses Association has chosen the only alternative left to professional nurses—
the justice of the courts," read
Opal Stewart, president of the
Texas Nurses Association, a
state affiliate of the American
Nurses Association, the largest
professional organization for registered nurses in the country.
Continues on page 20