A few months ago in the Washington Post, I read a story about an immigration lawyer in Atlanta who couldn’t get a postponement of a hearing despite the fact that she was on maternity leave. Since she couldn’t get child care, she brought her infant with her and was reprimanded by the judge for being unprofessional. Lack of child care and parental leave in the United States is keeping women from advancing in the workforce.
Arlie Hochschild, sociologist and author of various books like The Second Shift recently came to talk to WiPP about the roles of women and lack of childcare in the United States. WiPP aims to promote gender equality and to support future generations of female leaders in policy and beyond. We also foster an inclusive space for professional development and discussion—for males as well as females. We work in the spirit of inclusion and encourage male participation to address societal issues as a team, particularly in policy or media.
As Hochschild told us, women currently perform three times as much housework as men, regardless of profession or socioeconomic status. Essentially women work two shifts: one at the office and one at home. But without a substantial child care policy, women won’t be able to earn leadership roles in the workplace. Heck, it impacts all Americans. According to Hochschild, 60 percent of kids in the United States live in homes with two working parents and we have no national childcare policy. Not only does this hold women back but it perpetuates America’s widening gap between rich and poor.
Arlie’s expertise helped the group explore many questions like what are sound economic arguments for providing childcare and parental leave? Is this the government’s responsibility? Which nations are doing better than us?
Another issue WiPP has tackled through trainings and collaboration is the lack of women in public office. With midterm elections behind us, the lack of female representation brings up a recurring question: why don’t more women run for office? As you can see on the map above we haven’t had too many female governors, and California still hasn’t had one. Only 100 out of 535 members of Congress are female, and worldwide only 1 in 5 parliament members are female—meaning our policies may not reflect the people whom it serves. We need to WiPP that, and we have been joining other organizations to do so.
In August, we hosted a healthcare panel with Emerge California. Emerge seeks to identify, train and encourage women to run for office, get elected and seek higher office. Their intensive, cohort-based training focuses on the nuts and bolts of campaigning, and often doesn’t have time to get into the weeds of policy issues. That can be daunting when a candidate is expected to be an expert on everything from energy policy to health care. That is why Emerge and WiPP hosted their cohort members with our students to learn from the experts. The panel included: Janet Reilly, President of Clinic by the Bay and Host of The Mix; Adrienne Bousian, Vice President of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood Northern California; and Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson. The panel explored local health care issues and how to frame those issues when running for office.
In March some WiPPers joined students from Mills College to get their own training on running for office. Ignite—a spinoff of emerge led by GSPP alum Fatimah Simmons—provided an all day training on fundraising, public speaking and lessons learned from local female politicians.
We’ve heard the story that women don’t run, but another truth is that many women don’t negotiate. Women today make 76 cents to the dollar to their male counterpart, and part of this gap can be accounted for by the failure to ask. In fact, by neglecting to negotiate her first salary, a woman may sacrifice over half a million dollars by the end of her career. Women fail to ask for raises and promotions as well. That’s why WiPP held a negotiations roundtable with Professor Amy Slater, who teaches a popular negotiations class at Goldman. Women from GSPP shared their experiences and with expert advice will understand their value and feel better prepared to enter real-world situations.
Yet getting prepped for the real world doesn’t always relate to policy issues or learning to negotiate. A sense of community, purpose, friendship and mentorship are important elements of WiPP. For international women’s day on March 8, Women from the Goldman School of Public Policy participated in the Vital Voices 2014 Global Mentoring Walk, where mentors and mentees walk together in over 30 countries. The Vital Voices walk was founded by former CEO of Oxygen Media, Geraldine Laybourne, who launched mentoring walks to empower young women professionals in New York City and across the world. Her success was due to the mentorship she received, and she vows to help other women along. Just as this Global mentoring walk was a women’s leadership incubator, an opportunity to highlight the importance of women’s leadership and accelerate the impact of women leaders—a prestigious program like Goldman should be as well.
However, a few years ago the women of Goldman found themselves without female mentorship. In fact, the faculty did not reflect the increasingly diverse class of students. Although WiPP was concerned about the lack of diversity on all fronts, the team decided to focus in on gender diversity, and they authored a report entitled "Women in Public Policy: A Framework for Greater Faculty Diversity," which documented the lack of female diversity at Goldman. Although we would aim to see more women teaching core classes and in key advisory roles like APA advisors, it is noted that in the past four years the school has added 5 female to ladder rank faculty and another handful to adjunct faculty and lecturers.
We would like to see this trend continue, and have access to great mentors right here on our campus. Therefore, our next event is a women’s student-faculty coffee connect female students and faculty. In the spirit of inclusion and collaboration our momentum will continue to address the issues we see in the world around us, like implicit bias. Implicit bias is an unconscious positive or negative attitude held toward a group or thing. It is unknowingly carried by people—perhaps those in leadership roles. Would an employer be more willing to hire John than Akhmed. Instead of just teaching, we will help the Students of Color in Public Policy (SCiPP) execute an implicit bias training, so students can go into the workforce without carrying unknown biases towards people different from them.
And finally on our roster for next semester is the domestic violence symposium. We have all seen in the press Ray Rice’s egregious abuse on his then fiancé. Yet violence against women is not a phenomenon that happens to just black women or uneducated women. It impacts all women, regardless of race, income or education. We’ve seen a case recently of a highly educated, government official be involved too. US District Court Judge Fuller was arrested in August for beating his wife, but accepted a plea deal and he will most likely return the bench in Georgia. Violence against women needs to be addressed and not swept under the carpet, and I am proud to say it is one of our male counterparts leading our efforts to address violence against women.
WiPP is a tool for us to work together as a community to create action on the issues we see and experience. I know the work we’ve done over the past year has encouraged women to stand straighter, be more informed, and reach for leadership positions. I know it has done that for me.
Inspired? Confused? Outraged to your very core? Feel free to leave a (respectful) comment below or to submit your own post to either Paula.Wilhelm or BChristopher (at) Berkeley.edu