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*By Kate Meyer
Last week Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, and Preeta Bansal, General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, hosted a White House Webchat to highlight findings from the recently released report Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being. Here at NCRW we were thrilled to see Jarrett and Bansal advocating for the same policies and programs that are on our agenda.
Jarrett and Bansal began by emphasizing the importance of restructuring the workplace to be more accommodating to women. Policies such as paid leave and flexible time benefit both women and men employees alike, and can help maintain productivity and a competitive edge in a 21st century workplace environment. They also addressed the issue of pay equity, noting that even though women’s educational attainment has soared, the gender wage gap still persists.
One solution Jarrett and Bansal highlighted was their initiatives to encourage and train women to go in to non-traditional jobs, which are often higher paid, such as those in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). Women’s economic security can also be attained through small business ownership- fact sheets and eligibility requirements for the government’s Women-Owned Small Business programs can be found here. They noted that President Obama understands the importance of increasing the number of women in decision-making positions in the corporate sector, and is supporting efforts to attract more talented women CEOs and board members.
While these are all policies and programs to fight for, they require lots of resources and time in order to see real change. The First Lady, however, is advocating one solution that’s completely free: mentoring young girls, especially girls of color. Encouraging and supporting women and girls to reach their goals is one crucial step we can all take together right now.
*Kate Meyer is a Research and Programs intern at the National Council for Research on Women. She recently graduated from Cornell University where she studied Government , Spanish and was a member of the Cornell Women’s Resource Center Advisory Board.