Women and Our Unique Voice
As of November 2018, with 131 women in Congress, the most in the history of the United States, women’s voices have their best chance to be heard at a federal level. But we are far from equally represented and women’s issues are far from the forefront of legislative agendas. With a 25-point gap between the percent of women in the US population and the percent in Congress, it is not hard to believe reports of lacking federal policy when it comes to women. For example, the United States is the only industrialized nation not to offer paid parental leave as a federal policy. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranks dead last in its recent study on the national paid maternity leave policies of its member countries.
Childcare is but one issue in a set commonly dubbed “women’s issues”. Sexual harassment and gender-based disparity in wages are two others. All are of direct concern to women in business and should concern businessmen, as well. Who will fight for women’s issues to be focused upon as everybody’s issues? Can we trust our issues to get equal play on an unequal playing field in Congress? Or do we need more women in politics? The Institute for Women in Politics’ answer is a resounding yes.
March 31, 2020 was Equal Pay Day, a date which presumably symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. While some organizations, like the National Committee on Pay Equity protest every year, April, 2018, Karen Lips, President of a conservative women’s organization, New Enlighted Women was asking in her Forbes article: “who really wins when women are taught that they are victims of rampant discrimination in the economy? The answer: supporters of increased government intervention in businesses.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts forth annual statistics comparing wage rates between men and women. 2016 statistics indicate women were paid overall at a rate of 80% as compared to male earners. In 2017, women earned 82% of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center study.
But while the BLS and Pew debate whether to include part-time wage earners and/or focus on hourly wage earners to determine the appropriate comparative data from which to derive pay rate statistics, they both conclude that no method is fool-proof. No method to date can eliminate the very pertinent and completely non-discriminatory variables that drive pay rate differences: work experience, because women voluntarily work fewer hours and leave the workforce for family more often than men, educational attainment, in other words, fewer advanced degrees, and occupational segregation, that is, choosing less intricate or demanding jobs as a career path. Herein lies the argument for status quo.
Nonetheless, per the PEW survey, one-in-four employed women said they have earned less than a man who was doing the same job; just 5% of men said they have earned less than a woman doing the same job.
Uncovering the facts to arrive at appropriate legislation will take a more concerted effort… and more women legislators to bring it to focus.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, in a radio interview with BBC, agreed:
“We need to start paying women well and we need the public and the corporate policy to get there,” she said. “Certainly, women applying for jobs at the same rate as men, women running for office at the same rate as men, that has got to be part of the answer.”
Women in politics not only offer a unique voice but also enhance work methodology and outcomes. Numerous studies of women in legislative roles have indicated that because women experience issues and approach problem-solving differently than men, women tend to be more collaborative & inclusive, and less hierarchical, when seeking solutions and in negotiating compromise, therefore lean towards win-win scenarios more often than their more competitive male counterparts who tend to be win-lose driven. Other findings have shown that political bodies comprised of both men and women tend to debate issues and conduct business more civilly and less combatively.
The Institute for Women in Politics of Northwest Florida embraces a vision of a future where women are fully engaged, represented and respected in the political process. We are non-partisan and issue neutral. Our mission is to encourage women to take seats at the political table for the good of all. Because we remain optimistic that at that time when a diverse body politic represents the great diversity of our population, all will be treated equally, all voices will be heard. Please plan to join us in June for our Annual Meeting and Awards Celebration.
Myra Van Hoose is President of the Institute for Women in Politics. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
Myra Van Hoose is the President of IWP Board of Directors. We have defined our values! Integrity, Inclusivity, Mutual Respect, and Making a Difference. Help us live our values by becoming a member in the Institute, email contact@IWPflorida.org.
Special thanks to Pensacola News Journal for publishing this article.