Will a 42-page document help bring about gender equity and equality? The Biden-Harris Administration hopes so.
It recently released the country’s first national strategy to remove the barriers that keep women from having access to the same opportunity, prosperity, education, health, and safety as men. By laying out ten strategic priorities, the aim is “not just policy reform, but also a shift in the social and cultural norms that undermine gender equity and equality.” Here are three of those priorities:
Improve Economic Security and Accelerate Economic Growth
Specifically called out is the systemic workplace discrimination faced by women and gender-nonconforming people, including barriers to entry. Once they do get in, women often endure ignored/accepted sexual harassment and persistent wage gaps. And if the COVID pandemic taught us anything (besides how to use Zoom) it’s that working women typically bear a far greater burden than their male partners in taking care of the home, the children, and the sick or elderly in their families, most of which is unpaid labor.
Close Gender Gaps in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Fields
According to recent census data, women are nearly half of the U.S. workforce but only 27% of STEM workers. Without equal access to these high-paying jobs, women are missing out on all of the benefits that go along with them. How many girls have been dissuaded from pursuing this field because they’ve been told: “it’s not for them”? I personally know of several.
Advance Full Participation in Democracy, Representation, and Leadership
This priority addresses the old adage, “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.” When women aren’t among the decision-makers, they’re probably not getting their needs addressed as well as their male counterparts who are calling the shots. We’ve seen this in all sectors from medical research not including women in studies, to auto manufacturers not designing cars with women in mind, to male legislators passing laws about women’s bodies without comparable representation from female lawmakers.
In all of these areas, organizations can mirror the government’s commitment to “elevate gender in strategic planning and budgeting, policy development, management, and training, and monitoring and evaluation efforts” as well as to “strengthen data collection and analysis and take steps to ensure transparency and accountability for progress toward the goals laid out in this strategy.”
Want to support these efforts? Follow the government’s lead to:
- Address persistent gender discrimination and systemic barriers to full workforce participation.
- Increase gender parity and diversity in leadership roles.
- Advance women’s employment in well-paying jobs.
- Ensure diverse and inclusive participation and representation in decision-making.
- Support women-led organizations and movements.
- Encourage STEM innovation and entrepreneurship.
- Look at things like engagement survey results by gender and women of color rather than just at the overall workforce results.
As a wise woman said at the United Nations World Conference on Women in 1995, “Women’s rights are human rights.” Twenty-six years later, we’re still trying to make that a reality. Maybe this 42-page strategy document will get us there. A girl can dream…