Employment & Unemployment

Women continue to lag behind men in earnings and wages. The underlying reasons for these continuing disparities are cultural, social and economic. While unemployment rates for women have declined less for women than for men during the recent economic downturn, women are still apt to have lower-paying jobs, with fewer benefits, and more part-time and interrupted careers. As the jobless rate for men rises, women are increasingly becoming primary breadwinners for their families, often without increased access to child care, elder care and help with domestic chores and other key supports.

Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER)

WISER is a nonprofit organization that works to help women, educators and policymakers understand the important issues surrounding women’s retirement income. WISER creates a variety of consumer publications including fact sheets, booklets and a quarterly newsletter that explain in easy-to-understand language the complex issues surrounding Social Security, divorce, pay equity, pensions, savings and investments, banking, home-ownership, long-term care and disability insurance. As part of our national education campaign, Your Future Paycheck®: What Women Need To Know, WISER has been able to reach thousands of women through workshops held across the nation. WISER has also been the driving force behind a series of state and local events aimed at leveling the playing field for women on long-term financial security.
WISER was founded in 1996 with a grant from the Heinz Family Philanthropies.


1146 19th Street, N.W.
Washington , DC 20036
Ph. (202) 393-5452
Fx. (202) 393-5890


Principal Staff

Cindy Hounsell, President

Lara Hinz, Program Manager

Vadaire James, Program Associate

Camille Koué, Social Media and Communications Coordinator

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The Center is a "one-stop" gateway for retirement planning. Since 1998, the Administration on Aging has awarded a competitive grant to the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) for the design, execution and maintenance of the National Education and Resource Center on Women and Retirement Planning.

WISER was founded in 1996 through a grant the Heinz Family Philanthropies to provide low and moderate income women (aged 18 to 65) with basic financial information aimed at helping them take financial control over their lives. With offices in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., the Heinz Family Philanthropies are creating positive change across the philanthropic spectrum with particular interest in health care, women and health, and the environment.


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Center News

Change was promised, Change has come

May 27, 2009 posted by Linda Basch After nearly a month of anticipation, President Obama has finally announced his nomination for Supreme Court justice—and what a nomination!  The President tapped Sonia Sotomayor, a New York federal appeals justice born to Puerto Rican parents and raised in housing projects in the South Bronx.     In a world where most Latinas are far less likely to go on to college than any other group of women, only 2.9 % of Latina Women hold advanced graduate degrees, 10% of all Latina women are unemployed, and the number of female Hispanic Federal Court Judges can be counted on one hand, Sotomayor has risen above those odds to become the first ever Hispanic woman to be nominated to the Supreme Court. Her ascent from humble beginnings mirrors President Obama’s personal narrative; both overcame incredible obstacles to become role models for generations.  For those in the Hispanic Community, her appointment is a glimmer of hope that the often silenced voice of the Hispanic, female minority has a better chance of being represented in public debates and decision-making.

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