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Women in the Financial Sector: A White House Forum on Economic Growth

Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank meets with women to discuss the U.S. economy.

Ed. Note: This piece is cross-posted from

Yesterday, I spoke with around 100 women from across the U.S. financial services industry at the White House. The forum included business executives as well as stewards of institutional funds.

I’m an economist by training and I’ve studied the role that women play in the workforce. When it comes to decision-making, in the boardroom or anywhere else, the best decisions get made when there is more diversity of perspectives and opinions at the table. So it was great to hear from these leaders.

We talked about the U.S. economy and some of the challenges we face, and I highlighted some of the things that President Obama is pushing for to help strengthen our economy, build on our global competitiveness, and create even more jobs.

Already, GDP has grown for 11 straight quarters and more than 4.4 million private sector jobs have been created over the past 28 months. That’s good news, but clearly we must do more.

For example, we need to expand support for states and localities to hire more teachers, police, and firefighters. We need to expand infrastructure investment, and put unemployed construction workers back to work. We need to reward firms that insource—bringing jobs back to America—and eliminate tax benefits for companies that outsource. And we need to extend tax cuts for middle class families.

Dr. Blank at disscussion on Jobs

In addition, everyone agreed that Americans should be as concerned, perhaps even more concerned, with long-term investments that assure long-term American competitiveness. For example, the president has called on Congress to support more research and development as well as tech transfer in America’s top universities and labs along with investments that will help to increase the skills of the U.S. workforce, provide greater access to higher education and enhance our nation’s educational infrastructure.

Clearly, we have the tools at our disposal to create stable, long-term growth. We should use them. Strong and steady economic growth is necessary to build the economy we all want—an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same rules. That’s the vision for America that we all share.

After I finished speaking with this talented group of women, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez moderated a panel focused on the opportunities and challenges in the global economy. The panel boasted high-level participants, including: Lael Brainard, Under Secretary for International Affairs, Department of the Treasury; Elizabeth Littlefield, President and CEO, Overseas Private Investment Corporation; and Abby Joseph Cohen, Managing Director, Senior Investment Strategist and President, Global Markets Institute, Goldman Sachs. The discussion covered such wide-ranging topics as the impact of Europe on the U.S. economy, opportunities in the Middle East/North Africa region and the sectors and markets that are ripe for private investment.

 Dr. Rebecca Blank is the the Acting Secretary of the United States Department of Commerce.