Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking to the members of the Women in Government Relations Education Task Force (WGR) about theWomen In America Report. WGR is a non-profit, non-partisan, association of professionals in government relations with over 750 members representing a wide variety of groups. The purpose of Women in America was to spark discussion about the well-being of women and the many policy issues that impact women’s lives. It was encouraging to see groups like WGR use the report in just this conversation.
Women in Americafocuses on five critical areas: people, families, and income; education, employment, health, and crime and violence. It highlights progress and change over time, but also emphasizes the stark realities women face in America today. As Women, we represent a majority of college graduates but we are still paid less than men, have more trouble accessing health care services, and are less likely to pursue lucrative the careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) that will help contribute towards closing the wage gap.
During our discussion with WGR, the other panelists and I had the opportunity to discuss the kinds of policy approaches that might help address these issues. First and foremost, we talked about the importance of creating educational opportunities that help women (and men) tackle the challenges we are facing in a new global economy. For example, one of the panelists suggested that STEM education begin at a very early age, and that science appreciation could begin in preschool programs. And because the panelists understood the importance of creating a healthy learning environment as well as improving the curricula, they applauded the Obama Administration’s commitment to end cyber bullying and other forms of violence that stifle women’s growth. We also discussed providing support for women and girls beyond their formal education, with policies that help women pursue careers and family lives that are fulfilling.
It’s my hope that the discussion in forums like these will lead more people to seek implementation of sound, pragmatic policies that will help us achieve gender equality.
Dr. Rebecca Blank serves as Under Secretary for Economic Affairs at the Department of Commerce