Written in collaboration with PRCO Intern Sara Harrison
We have a long road ahead toward reaching equality for women in wages, leadership and power, but a few powerful trends are helping to drive that change forward.
1. Transparency & Data Analysis with a Gender Lens
The picture isn’t pretty. Claire Cain Miller’s “When Women Take Over a Male-Dominated Field, the Pay Drops”, explores exhaustive research conducted at Cornell, the University of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, showing that not only do women earn less than men, but as women move into different sectors, pay in those areas decreases. Even though the numbers are bleak, collecting them is a positive and important first step. As the Women Donors Network’s “Who Leads Us” report taught us, it’s much easier to tackle a problem when you can clearly name it. Reports like this provide the data we need to understand where and how problems persist, and offer insights into possible solutions. Companies like Amazon and LinkedIn lead the way by systematically examining wage differences between men and women – making it impossible for them NOT to do something about the results.
2. Women + Business = Financial Gain
New investment models focused on gender equity are here. Consider Plum Alley, which joins female investors with women-led businesses before they go public. Or State Street Global Advisors’ newest exchange-traded-fund – the SPDR Gender Diversity Index E.T.F. (ticker symbol SHE!) – which invests in companies that recruit and retain women in leadership roles. Or Portfolia, a crowd-funding site for women. These platforms not only acknowledge and respect that women – not husbands or male advisors – control their funds. They also privilege the powerful and positive effects women have in the workplace. Women now have the tools to leverage their money, make bold investments, and close the gender equity gap too.
3. Momentum for Woman-Friendly Policies
Bipartisan public policy issues increasingly recognize the true value of women’s work outside the home. California’s first-in-the-nation Paid Family Leave Act, sponsored by longtime women’s advocate Senator Sheila Kuehl, may serve as a model for the country, enabling women to manage their familial obligations while still making it possible for them to maintain their professional careers. Nationally, preschool for all has become a rallying cry for the Democrats and the GOP alike, and an increasing cacophony of voices calls for an increase to a working minimum wage. All of these policies help women enter and thrive in the workforce.
Behind every great leap forward for women, is a woman who stepped up to her own power to drive the change. From an UpShot article by Claire Cain Miller, to Deborah Jackson and Andrea Turner Moffit’s launch of Plum Alley, to the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act introduced by Sheila Kuehl, women aren’t waiting around for change: they are leading the way towards gender equality.